I'm a Portuguese amateur photographer based in Lisbon.
I got my first camera when I was a teenager but only began to take photography more seriously after finishing college and gradually developed a special taste for portrait and architecture photography.
The following lines are an except of an interview for "Practical Photography" magazine in 2016.
A few years ago, when my kids began to play rugby, I started to take rugby photos, first of their games, then the whole team and finally of the national teams and international tournaments.
Rugby is a magnificent photographic subject: it provides strong emotions by extraordinary individuals with exceptional character and capable of great efforts with fine technique, transmitting team spirit, sacrifice, tenacity, courage and respect, all in large doses, with high intensity, often in tough weather conditions. And also gives you great colours, textures and environments. A perfect rugby photograph is the one that combines most of these components in a fresh and aesthetically appealing way. The good thing is that, if you are aware, this great sport provides you with immense opportunities to make those perfect photographs.
THREE MAIN SKILLS
I would say the three main skills are: know your subject, know your equipment and master your workflow. In the words of Ansel Adams, “You don't take a photograph, you make it.” If the first two skills are essential to take good photos, the last one is key to make them great. Knowing your subject is important to anticipate the best opportunities. Knowing your equipment is vital to ensure you know which exposure and focus mode you’ll need so the camera won’t stand in your way when the moment comes. And master the workflow is essential so that the end-to-end process, from the in-camera capture to the digital or physical output, is able to produce the images you envisioned.
HOW TO CAPTURE A FLEETING MOMENT
Prepare the camera, stay focused and stay mobile. Preparing the camera before the game is very important so you don’t waste time making adjustments after the game has started. I always shoot in aperture priority (so I can be in control of the depth of field), and use the auto ISO to define the minimum speed (usually not below one thousand of a second, unless I want motion to be apparent in the shot) and maximum ISO. I also shoot in RAW so I get the highest flexibility in post processing. During the game, I try to be always focused in what is happening in the pitch but also in the benches. And finally, I’m always moving in the sideline, trying to be close to the action. A good background separation is key and if you are close to the players it’s easier to throw the background out of focus (and you’ll be able to get more of the essence of the action). A final advice is practice a lot: you’ll only be able to move up on that experience curve if you spend a lot of hours in the field practicing.
HOW MUCH IS CHANCE AND SKILL
This isn’t landscape photography so when the action comes you must be prepared to act fast. It’s important to have a camera/lens combination with fast focus, a high shooting rate and a deep buffer. But is also key to stay focused on the action and anticipate when those fleeting moments are coming and know beforehand what type of framing you want for each shot. Having said that, luck plays a crucial role in the process. But the more you know the game and your equipment, the more you practice, the more you experiment, the luckier you’ll be.