For as long as I can remember, I have always been a fan of soccer. I would go out of my way to watch soccer or watch literally any game that was on TV. About the time when I started high school, I started getting serious about photography.
The first thing I started photographing was soccer. It was one of the few things I loved most in life and my friends wanted pictures of them playing soccer. I have love for both soccer and photography, but very early on, I realized that I would struggle with one peculiar aspect: How do I enjoy watching the game, but also take pictures at the same time?
When I first dealt with this, I was unsure of how to handle it. I wanted to celebrate when the team scored or yell in disgust when a wrong call was made.
I had to resist every urge in my body to jump up and celebrate whenever the team scored. Instead, I just had to sit there and capture these moments. As I started to photograph more, I realized I could turn this struggle and dilemma into something positive. I realized that I could celebrate and photograph these moments at the same time. My celebrations were captured in the photos I took.
My photos were my celebrations and my varying emotions throughout the game. The inner fan in me was being brought to life through the medium of photography. The only struggle I deal with now is what end of the field to be on and whether or not I got the shot.
My friend and fellow photographer James Wichert knows this dilemma all too well. When asked about this dilemma, he said, “The hardest choice of every game is deciding which end you want to shoot at.”
Wichert also added, “The rational part of you wants to go where all the action is, but your inner fan wants to just shoot ‘your team,’ the team that may not be the best, but you want to capture their moments.” Trey Madara, another friend and fellow photographer who has shot several games for the Philadelphia Union of the Major League Soccer and the United States National teams added, “It definitely makes you impartial to who you shoot. For example, I barely shot any of the England team during that game. Same thing for the Copa America Matches.
I spent more time photographing Chile because I had liked them a bit more than the other squads.” James and I have shot several games together and this is all too familiar.
When an incredible goal happens right in front of your eyes, you want jump up in joy and cheer your heart out with your friend.
But instead, we have to get the shot and celebrate after. It’s a weird feeling celebrating after everyone else is done celebrating, but most of the energy from the celebration goes into getting that perfect shot.
On Saturday, March 4, I had the incredible opportunity to shoot the United States Women’s National Soccer Team at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
This dilemma was well and truly present, as I had watched the women’s team play at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Montreal back in June of 2015.
But being so close to some of my favorite players this time was so surreal. As much as I wanted to get autographs and pictures with the players, I had to remain professional, but being able to photograph these players in action was all I needed to remind myself that this is my celebration.
Despite the U.S. losing in the 90th minute and having to stand in frigid temperatures for about six hours, my inner fanboy reminded me that this dilemma should be celebrated, not dwelled upon.
Luke Stergiou can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org