Iraq vs China: Football in Shenzhen

Posted by The A-Team on

Following up from our Aputure vs Canon battery grip battle on the last post, I’m going to share some of my experiences shooting the match.

The Iraqi National Football Squad © Jesse Warren

I was rather surprised when the Iraq Football Association called me up early one morning and asked me to shoot their team while in Shenzhen. Communication was difficult and the process was one of the most unorthodox I’ve ever encountered. Without a proper contract or assurance, I was a bit skeptical, but took it on faith and jumped at the opportunity anyways as it seemed like a good experience.

Over his head © Jesse Warren

After shooting the team for several training sessions it came time for the big game. Shenzhen doesn’t usually have big sporting events (save for the recent Universiade Games held this past summer), so this was actually a big deal. I was surprised and delighted to see local fans out in full force, in support of the home team. However, I was shooting for the opposing team, both figuratively and literally.

Collision on the field © Jesse Warren

The game brought back memories of my days shooting for the Shenzhen Daily newspaper: The fine line between competing with other photographers for the best position and the camaraderie of working together on the same subject. The knowledge that you are getting more or less the same shots as everyone else. The exclusive access to the teams and the event (and water bottles since water is not allowed in the stadium!) More on that later.

Copped the family jewels? © Jesse Warren

However, it was a tough challenge trying to get good shots of the players in action. I am not a sports photographer, being more of a portrait and landscape kind of guy. So it was fun to test my abilities using big fast glass, firing away in AI Servo at full continuous blast. In the end, I don’t think I came away with anything Pulitzer-prize worthy. But I think I managed to capture several key moments as the story of the match unfolded. Although, bummer that I missed the winning goal.

Another one bites the dust © Jesse Warren

Much to the dismay of the home crowd, China lost the match. The Iraqi team who had traveled so far, was ecstatic with the victory, putting them one step closer to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The small group of Iraqi fans cheered their teams bus with horns and chanting as they left the stadium. As for the home teams fans? Let’s just say it became clear why they ban water bottles in the stadiums. I sure wouldn’t want to be a player on the losing team with fans like that!

Iraqi fans after the match © Jesse Warren

Anyways, congratulations to Iraq for winning the match, and if you ever get a chance to shoot a major sporting event from the sidelines, go for it!

Jesse Warren is a photographer based in Shenzhen, China. He also works for Aputure.

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