Behind the Camera: Make Your Own Luck by Brandon Wu

July 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
I was in the right place at the right time for Ian Toner’s splashy layout but my luck wouldn’t last all weekend

Back in the day, I was a decent college Ultimate player, but I was inconsistent. Sometimes, everything seemed easy and the game came to me; but in other games, I was basically invisible –no matter what I did I couldn’t seem to make an impact on the game. Thankfully, over time I figured out how to consistently contribute to my teams’ efforts, particularly at high-stakes moments. Even if one aspect of my game wasn’t clicking, there were other things I could do to make a difference.

I’m no longer playing competitive Ultimate, but I feel like I’m in the college Ultimate phase of my Ultimate photography adventure. Sometimes it seems like I barely have to do anything and the shots come to me. The first day of this past weekend’s US Open was pretty much like that – one of my first shots of the tournament was a huge layout grab by Ian Toner of Ring of Fire that landed him directly into a giant puddle of standing water. And the shots kept coming – somehow I seemed to be in the right place at the right time over and over again.

One of the few good action shots I got late in the finals: Ironside’s Danny Clark holds on against tight Revolver D.

By Sunday, it seemed my luck had run out. Particularly in the highly anticipated men’s finals between Revolver and Ironside, I just couldn’t seem to get a break. All of the exciting plays were happening across the field, and twice I missed focus on ones that happened right in front of me. It was the biggest game of the weekend in the men’s division and I wasn’t getting any good pictures.

Far too late in the game, I decided I had to make my own luck – if the plays weren’t coming to me, I needed to go to them. I started chasing the action, switching sidelines and at times actually following the disc as it moved up and down the field. I realized that even if the big exciting shots weren’t there for me to grab, I could still make some creative shots away from the action. This worked reasonably well. I finally started getting some decent photos, and ended up with some keepers despite a rough first half. 

While there are always things outside your control as a sports photographer, a combination of careful planning and a willingness to chase the action can tilt the odds in your favor. I’m still learning that lesson.

I saw this Fury hat propped up on a water bottle with the scoreboard in the background, and it couldn’t have been better if I’d set it up myself.

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