I’ve always loved sports photography. So when I saw the Safaricom Sevens billboards a couple of weeks ago, I started preparing to be there for Africa’s premier sevens tournament. I applied for my accreditation to be able to shoot from the field but two days to kick-off, I was told it wasn’t approved.
Motor Sports is one of the most challenging activities to shoot. Over and above aperture, shutter speed and ISO considerations, there’s also safety – yours and your subjects’. In an attempt to get the most captivating photo, you can end up staring at a hospital ceiling or send the driver / rider into the ditches.
A quiet day at the office yesterday was interrupted by a pat on my shoulder by Allan Gichigi. He’d been invited to see some BMX riders doing their thing on the KICC Helipad. I quickly cleared my schedule and tagged along. I didn’t have my camera on me, only my Xperia Z1 which I decided to shoot with.
The development of cycling in Kenya has stagnated over the years due to lack of proper leadership, talent management and a list of other grievances that makes many wonder why the Kenya Cycling Federation are still in office. But today wasn’t a day to focus on these. It was a day to celebrate the best Kenyan talent at the Koffee Trophee.
A couple of Saturdays ago, I got invited to the Zuku Universities Basketball Finals at Kasarani by my brother and partner in positive contentization Okwi Okoh. This was a tournament that had so much swagg put into it when title sponsors Zuku saw the promise that lies in the game and had Samsung, Rexona and others follow suit.
My invite came with an all access media pass which I made great use of in getting shots I had envisioned.
As Kenya marks 50 years of independence on 12th December 2013, a daring group of bikers will fire up their heavy machines and set off from Nairobi to Cairo in a 10,000km return road trip with a difference.
It will be a ride through some of the toughest conditions that anyone can face – rock-lined to sand-lined roads, dry river crossings to mountainous highlands – these brave souls will endure it on two wheels for 50 days, topped up with a nice serving of fatigue – all for a worthy cause.
Sports photography presents challenges that attract me like a finger to an itch. The only thing that keeps me from fulfilling my itch is time.
So when I had a couple of free hours before church today, I couldn’t resist the urge to chase pro and amateur cyclists on their 20km individual time trial on the Ndumberi – Limuru road.
Shooting on a route lined with many coffe estates that provided great scenic backgrounds, plus ideal cloud cover that filtered the sun to just the right intensity, makes me believe I had more fun with my Canons than cyclists on they Canyons but in need of a serious work out like some of the cyclists who were panting and wheezing at the finish line.
Being at Kenya’s Olympic trials felt like being in London for the Olympics. The athletes I got to see up close are the very same who will show the world how to run, hog the podium and with medals dangling on their necks, make sure the Kenyan anthem is played over and over again. These are Kenya’s greatest exports.
Big kudos to Athletics Kenya who didn’t charge a cent to anyone coming to watch our heroes, and for their organisational excellence that showed in the races starting on time and officials handing printed results to members of the press shortly after each race. My man of the day was Kibunja, a patriotic Kenyan who run alongside the 5,000m runners to show his support. He was lapped several times but received some of the loudest cheers when he crossed the finish line.
This was the first time I was going to Kasarani after it was closed for refurbishment in 2010.
The date was June 2nd and Kenya were hosting Malawi in a first-leg World Cup qualifier. The security was the tightest I’ve seen at any venue, even where the president is present. It didn’t ruin the atmosphere though.
The Malawians had the upper hand during the first half with the Kenyans taking control of the second. The game ended in a goalless draw to the disappointment of the home crowd.
After missing the 2012 Rhino Charge because of family commitments, I wasn’t going to miss this year’s Safari. My first motorsports event for the year brings back many memories.
There were some scary moments for me on Saturday: I’d positioned myself at a culvert to take shots of the cars catching air as they sped past. As each car came hurtling down towards me, caution made my right leg scamper off into the bushes while my left leg stayed put, shaking in fear, until the brutal, grunting rally car flew past, a few inches from my lens.
Here’s some of the shots I captured. You can find many more on KWELI Magazine’s page.
I finally got a taste of rugby action last Saturday – at the wrong venue. Alan Hicks told me Nondies were playing Strath at Impala and in my absent mindedness, I rocked into RFUEA instead.
From the sidelines, I got to watch a great game amidst colourful grammar from a section of the spectators. As a referee, you need to be made of a special kind of metal for all those insults to be hurled at you and just ignore them. Or, maybe the guy was wearing ear plugs.
Anyway, Quins carried the day and here’s some of the photos I took.
I recall making rally cars out of wire hangers and used metal tins with my brother. We dreamt of entering the Safari Rally in our dad’s Datsun 120Y. As part of early preparation, we’d take our hand-made toy cars and race each other within Doonholm estate, and during school holidays, compete against other boys in rallies run in what are today Tena, Greenfields, Sunrise and Savannah Estates. The first boy on the finish ramp had to stand on his car like we saw on TV, and shower in a cold Coca Cola that was intended to assist in swallowing the marble cake won. The rest of us settled for tropicals, patcos, KSLs and, if budget allowed, Big Gs. The whole operation was funded through the five shillings we paid for entry – a hefty amount at the time.
Every Easter, without fail, we would gather at the Outer Ring and Jogoo Roads junction to wave rally cars by as they headed to Central Kenya. Patrick Njiru drew the biggest cheers. He once – I’m told – slowed down and threw sweets at the crowd. I believe he was time barred in that rally. When my brother and I performed well in school, dad would take us not too far from town to watch the rally cars zoom by. On the way home, we’d entertain him with rally car sounds and ask him to drive fast, like the rally cars. If you ever saw a white 120Y coughing and wheezing down Jogoo Road with two boys cheering like crazy from the back seat – that was us! At home, we would keep glued to the radio to listen to the results from the check points as broadcast by VoK and made sure the tallies we made in the newspaper pull-outs were up-to-date and correct.
The first photo below was the first good photo I ever took of anything. This was in August 2006. I treasure it as I treasure memories of me, my brother and our dad enjoying the Safari Rally.
I hope to rekindle my love for the rally and indulge my son in the battle of man and machine against the elements. And maybe, finally take part in a rally with my brother. We’ve practiced enough.
Despite the hooligans who threw huge stones onto the pitch that photographers had to dodge and the crooks who took advantage of the situation and robbed fellow Kenyans, football still remains a beautiful sport. Not like rugby, but it comes close.
I won’t stop attending football matches even with the risk of hooliganism because in the stadium arenas are many beautiful stories to be told and pictures to be taken.
As I thank God for shielding me and my equipment, here’s a selection of the best five shots I took.
I’ve have a keen interest in rugby – shooting and watching, not playing.
I just need to turn my interest into action and go shoot and watch what Pastor M, Alan Hicks and Ken Kimani believe is the game we’ll be playing in heaven. I believe them.
And since I’ll be shooting it there too and not playing, I need to get back to the sidelines and perfect my craft.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that when it comes to sports journalism, I need to pick a spot and pray the action comes towards me. If I move around the sidelines looking for action, there will be a greater likelihood of me missing the action altogether.
I took these at the Kenya Cup finals on 17th April 2010. More good photos I found as I continue cataloging my photos.
Friends like Mavuno’s Kenyatta Otieno are God-sent. He always tells me when there’s a big game happening. He’s such a football fan – a true Sofapaka fan.
Sofapaka (my team) met Sony today in a Super 8 duel which they won 2-1.
Didn’t snap many great photos tonight but I’m happy I got to click away.
I’m still fine-tuning my skills in sport photography.
A lesson I have come to embrace is ‘Position yourself at one place and patiently wait for the action to come to you.’ If you move from place to place, you won’t get good shots.
The sun was shining today allowing faster shutter speeds at low ISOs, unlike last Sunday when the heavens opened up.
Sofapaka took the day with a 1 – 0 win over Ulinzi.