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Shot selection

Shooting Rooty

The trials and tribulations of getting a player to pose for an interesting, sometimes offbeat, photo

Philip Brown
Philip Brown
Joe Root poses with his bat in the Lord's Long Room, June 2016

Joe Root: ruthless on the field, genial off it  •  Philip Brown

A very special welcome to Shot Selection if you've never read a post on this blog before. If you have, and I believe that there are over 40 pieces to choose from, then I say, "Have you not had enough already?"
Today I've decided to let you in on the dark arts of gaining access to a cricketer for what we are going to call a "special shoot". Normally, for a special shoot you have to approach the media liaison officer and persuade her or him that it is in everyone's interest that a photographer (me) should have five or six minutes with a particular cricketer, and that the subsequent photograph will take cricket to the next level (whatever that means). Normally this approach will get one of two responses. Either a positive one, which may be something like: "I'll ask the cricketer and see what we can do", or "No."
I have had an instance where a cricketer agreed to a quick special shoot at Southampton during a one-day county match. No media liaison officer was involved in this case. The player wasn't due to bat till seven wickets had fallen, so he was ready to do a five-minute posing session there and then, as his team had just begun batting. I stupidly told him to let me set up my lights and that he should come over to the nets in about five or ten minutes. I kept sending messages to the dressing room saying that I was ready. Six hours later I gave up and packed up my gear and when I drove past the Worcestershire coach (a bus, not the human coach of the team) at a nearby McDonald's, I was tempted to go in and give this player a piece of my angry mind. I won't name the player as he's a nice guy and also comes from Wales. No point holding a grudge, is there? Or is there?
I did a shoot for the Cricketer magazine in 2007 with heart-throb Mark Ramprakash at The Oval. I decided to put my camera on a tripod and take two different images of Mark that I would stitch together using Photoshop. As Mark was involved in the popular Saturday evening programme Strictly Come Dancing, I wanted to show his flamboyant side. I used a couple of flashes to make him stand out on a grey London day. I was very happy with the result, but Mark wasn't so chuffed when he saw it.
England have a brand new media liaison officer who is very, very nice and more importantly, very helpful and accommodating. (I'll send a link for this blog to Danny, I think). I had a plan in 2015 to photograph the baby-faced Joe Root in the Lord's Long Room, and he agreed to do it in September. Unfortunately Joe forgot his Test kit and the shoot had to be postponed.
Anyway, last month the opportunity to do this shoot reared its lovely head again. Joe was chatting with journalists in the writing room at Lord's and was due to join me in the Long Room for a few minutes of fun and photography. I took out a small insurance policy to make sure that he came to the Long Room by taking his bat and batting gloves with me. I needn't have bothered. Joe was quite happy to pose for five minutes in the famous room.
I got some shots of him looking out the window and looking at the camera. Lastly I wanted a moody shot of a determined young man staring at the camera. I asked Joe to look at me as if he hated me and the shoot descended into laughter. He is just too nice for any of that stuff. I can't imagine why David Warner tried to batter him in Broad street all those years ago.
Ramprakash: Canon Eos 1D MkII 125ASA F5.6 24-70 @32mm 1/400th;
Root: Nikon D4 500ASA F5 70-200 @110mm 1/200th

An Australian freelance cricket photographer based in England, Philip Brown has photographed over 200 Test matches around the world