Photographing Team USA Women’s Water Polo

I’m always up to photograph a sport or an event I never shot before. So when the opportunity to photograph the Team USA Women’s Water Polo team against Spain arose, I quickly said yes. Of course I never shot any water polo in my life, so it was one of those learn as you go type of deals. And besides, who wouldn’t want to add the Team USA Women’s Water Polo team as a client to their list?

Pregame Drama

Like any other sporting event, the night prior I charge my batteries and format my memory cards. I went to the match with 7 memory cards; I thought that was more than enough. I had 6 SanDisk cards and 1 Lexar. Tell me why all the SanDisk cards gave me the error message in my camera. I tried them all a few times and nothing.

Talk about freaking out.

My only saving grace was that my Lexar memory card worked and I shot the entire match on that card. I’m not one to shoot an entire match of games on one card in case one gets corrupted. I rather lose some photos than all of them.

So if anyone knows someone at Lexar or ProGrade Digital and they want to sponsor me, I’m all for it. I’m done with SanDisk because this isn’t the first time something like this has happened and as a sports photographer, that is my biggest nightmare.

And now back to our regularly scheduled content.

Team USA Women’s Water Polo vs Spain

Like I said, I know nothing about nothing when it comes to water polo. I found out that this exhibition match was a rematch for the Gold Medal at the last Olympics and that a lot of the women we Olympians on a couple of teams. So that in itself was pretty cool.

I’ve always wanted to shoot water sports. Not those water sports perv, but swimming, diving etc. and photographing this water polo match was a great foray into it.

The match was at Ransom Everglades High School in Coconut Grove, FL. It’s a very affluent neighborhood and a top of the line school so when I heard it was there I figured it would be in this amazing indoor pool with amazing lighting that would make all other indoor pools pale by comparison. To my surprise the pool was outside, with beautiful views of the bay by the way, and with the match beginning at 5pm, the available light disappeared quick and I had to rely on the little artificial light they did have shining on the pool.

Since I was hired by the Team USA Women’s Water Polo, my only objective was to capture content for them. It makes life a little easy that I didn’t have to try to go back and forth trying to capture content from both sides especially when we were basically restricted to just the corners of the pool.

As I mentioned prior, I’ve never shot water polo before, but I have to hand it to these women. Such strong and amazing swimmers. I would have caught multiple cramps trying to play.

Another thing I quickly picked up on is how dirty water polo can be. Pulling on bathing suits, kicking underwater, pushing heads down into the water. It was physical and I wasn’t expecting that.

Other than the lack of sufficient light, the other biggest hurdle was focusing on the players. With so much water splashing around, a few times my autofocus caught onto droplets of water and not the player themselves. And there was a lot of splashing, so it was tricky. With the light being on one side of the pool made it tough as well. Where the brightest areas of the pool were, there was no place for me to shoot as it was the coaches and benches for the respective teams on that side. I was basically backlighting the players at times or waiting for them to find a sliver of light and shoot from there.

All in all it was a great experience. I got to photograph Olympians and a new sport all in the same day.

And the best part was that the USA Water Polo Association gave me credit on social media and on their website for my photos. What photographer doesn’t love credit?

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