Being a cat who likes to spend a large proportion of his free time pondering life’s mysteries and reflecting on his role in the ecosystem, I am a firm believer that there is always something more to learn from being alive, providing of course that you choose to live as opposed to simply survive. Whether it’s learning how to improve your chocolate chip brownies or trying to understand why your cat swipes your legs as you walk past him, life always has more to teach those of us who will listen. One way to learn is through experience but as Oscar Wilde said …”experience is the hardest kind of teacher, it gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards”… So John and I often opt for an easier method of learning which involves going to school. Luckily it’s not the kind of school where the teacher yells at you for not pulling your socks up and you get essays for your homework, it’s the Mark Pain Sports Photography School.
Mark Pain is an internationally recognised award-winning sports photographer and an excellent teacher who is well connected in the world of sports having covered many major events from the Olympic Games to the Ryder cup. John and I have joined Mark for many of his sessions as a way to improve our photography skills and seek out new opportunities to shoot different subjects in fresh surroundings. Sports photography is inspiring because competing athletes feel joy, anger or sadness at their performances and the challenge for the photographer is to capture those emotions and convey them to the viewer. Like the look of pure concentration on the diver who glides gracefully into the water or the beam of satisfaction on the player’s face as the golf club swings through the best shot of the contest.
Low angle shots give us a different view on the world and these are easy for me to capture because I am so close to the ground. Mark taught me this technique when John and I attended a mountain bike event earlier this year and it was particularly effective because the riders would hurtle down the slopes and fly off the ramps at interesting angles which when shot from ground level looked even more dramatic. Well the high-flying moves certainly looked exciting to me as I craned my neck to watch the mud-covered bikers soar fearlessly above me and land with a thud and a skid a few feet down the track. Honestly you have to be quite brave as a feline photographer and I’ve had many a broken claw and fur loss incident as a result of my dedication to camerawork!
As I write this blog John is in Manchester with Mark working hard to get some first-class shots as official photographers for the Taekwondo 2015 World Championships. It’s a long weekend away so I decided to stay at home and contemplate my existence while my aunties (that’s John’s daughters and extended family) cater for my needs until John returns. I got distracted flicking through some of the photos John and I took at the rugby match we attended with Mark over the summer, thinking about the clever techniques Mark taught us to capture the burly players way up the other end of the pitch. I started imagining the focus and the thrill the players must have felt as they grunted and bull-dozed their way towards the goal posts with the ball in their hands. I lunged, I scored a try, then I woke up and realised that I was having a dream and had accidently put my teddy bear in the water bowl. Yes that’s right I have a teddy and I’m not ashamed to admit it! I dragged him out of the water and popped him on the radiator so that he would be dry and fluffy once more, ready for snuggles that night. After all, I need something soft and warm to sleep on until John comes home and I can use his belly as a pillow.