Those Who Can’t Play, Shoot…

…and they have so much fun doing it .

"To The End" by Federica Valabrega

"To The End" by Federica Valabrega

The sun it high in the sky, it’s 12 pm, defiantly  the worst light to be out on a beach volleyball court shooting professional players during an AVP match in downtown Atlanta, GA. But the odds are against me. This is my job and I have to find a way around the light and shoot otherwise I can kiss my new job goodbye.

"Victory Dance" by Federica Valabrega

"Victory Dance" by Federica Valabrega

So, I set the camera to manual with a higher aperture and faster shutter speed, hoping my game will trick the sun into showing less brightly on my stills.  I wait a bit and take few more frames when, magically it seems as if my sun trap  it’s actually working. Now, all I have to do is wait for the next “net action” hoping I will be fast enough to get the players and the ball in the same frame. 

"Contenders" by Federica Valabrega

"Contenders" by Federica Valabrega

The temperature raises to 95 F, the sand is scalding hot and I am tired of holding the trigger down, I have shot over 1,000 stills already and there are two more days to go.

The temptation to turn the camera off, go sit down under the shades of the Media stand and get some rest and some cold water is enduring. 

But passion wins.  I keep going despite the raging headache because something tells me I am getting better. A voice in my head tells me the best shots are yet to come and I should wait to catch them and compete in style with all the other veteran photographers.

"Score" by Federica Valabrega

"Score" by Federica Valabrega

I am newbie at this and I want to be better. So, I will stay despite the heat, the dizziness and the frustration of sand getting everywhere.  

"Got it" by Federica Valabrega

"Got it" by Federica Valabrega

So I get pass the fact that my camera is slower than all the other’s machine guns I hear shooting  8 frames/sec., but money is tight and the $8,000 camera is not an option for me right now.

I like to continue thinking my 3 frames/sec. camera ( not exactly what sport photographers use these days) will deliver just as well because what counts is the photographer behind the lens. And it does. I get some winner frames and I receive compliments from the leading photographer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution who has been shooting sports for 25 years.

"Net Action" by Federica Valabrega

"Net Action" by Federica Valabrega

I am puzzled with surprise and fulfillment. I landed in the professional sport photography by chance and I am not that BAD at it. I catch myself grinning with amusment and satisfaction. I am ready for the next two days knowing hard work will pay off no matter the heat and the slower camera. 

I walk back to the media stand, put my camera down and start editing while, all of a sudden, Olympian gold medalist Phil Dalhausser, (aka: “The Thin Beast” for his 6’9” slim giant stature) sits next to me. I am speechless and I stumble upon my words to compliment him on his recent victory earlier that morning (as if he cared  for some comments from a crazy sweaty, newbie photographer with a funky accents).

"The Think Beast" by Federica Valabrega

"The Think Beast" by Federica Valabrega

When he stands up again to go play, I realize I do not care if he even listen to me. I set next to a sport legend who few months ago walked the streets of Beijing. I absolutely love my job, especially if as a prize I get to hang out with beach volleyball players recounting tales of their Olympics experience over a glass of Bud Light (players party are a religious habit after the end of the tournament and staff is often invited–unbelievable).

And, all of a sudden, scraping my knees in sand while cooking in the hot sun, becomes well worth my time and makes me wish the three-day weekend will never end.

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