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Photographing Portsmouth FC

For many years now, photographing Portsmouth Football Club in action has been high on my list of priorities. Football clubs are typically a closed book. They have in house photographers who they know and trust and then the visiting photographers from National Publications and the likes of Getty Images. Basically, its a tough nut to crack. A nut, however, that I finally cracked last Saturday.

Pompey line up ready to take on Havant & Waterlooville in their pre season friendly. Photos by Alex Shute Photography

Working for the local press has afforded me many opportunities and opened many doors that would have otherwise been closed. I have shot football matches across all of the local clubs, including Gosport, Clanfield, Denmead and Havant & Waterlooville, all of which have taught me something new...something different. I even recently got to carry out the photography for the Pompey Legends at Gosport during a charity match. However, the big prize has alluded me for some time now. As a life long Pompey fan, its tricky knowing that you have ability and availability to shoot at Fratton Park, but not have the opportunity to demonstrate it to those who have the power to make something happen.

Action from the Pompey Legends match at Gosport FC's ground. Photos by Alex Shute Photography.

I was aware that Pompey would be playing at The Hawks ground on Saturday in their pre season friendly, but I was already booked to do a shift for The News, Portsmouth, covering so press stories and some Cricket. I was told a photographer had already been allocated to the Pompey game, however if I finished my jobs and was able to gain access, then I was welcome to attend too and shoot the game. Needless to say, I did not need a second invitation. Once my appointments for the day were complete, I shot over to WestLeigh Park (now known as the Draper Tools Community Stadium), grabbed my 500mm prime and convinced the stewards to let me in.

It may have been a friendly, but the gloves were off. Photos by Alex Shute Photography.

I may have missed the start, but the goal here was not to watch the game, but to shoot it. Capture images that would demonstrate my ability to those that questioned it in the future and as a bonus, provide The News with a second set of images should they ever need them. Its always a struggle knowing what gear to use. My 500mm lets me stay close to the action despite being on the side line, but when the action gets close, i'm out of the game. I carry a second body but by the time you transition from one to the other, the action has moved on.

More action from the Pompey pre season friendly at Westleigh Park. Photos by Alex Shute Photography.

Sport photography, as with any press and photo journalism is all about timing. The news moves quickly and the rate at which we consume media is as fast as ever. I ensure I have the ability to both edit and submit work from pitch side, so that live updates can be supplied and that whoever I am being employed by, gets the best quality images in a timely manner. These images were ready to submit during the first half.

More action from Pompey's pre season friendly at Westleigh Park. Photos by Alex Shute Photography

I was very proud of the set of images I produced while at Westleigh Park. There is always a pressure to nail the image as you only get one chance at it. The players are not going to keep going so that you can get the shot you want. With the arrival of the 2022/23 season, I am hoping for more opportunities to shoot football matches and fingers crossed, some more Pompey games.

More action from Westleigh Park. Photos by Alex Shute Photography

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