– David Bauckham – author and award-winning photographer –
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Eastbourne and my ‘proper job’ is as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, where I primarily teach anatomy and physiology to nursing students. However, I have also been involved with non-League football for many years: both as a fan and volunteer, and latterly as a writer, broadcaster and photographer. I have published four books to date and my photographs have been published in the UK, Europe and the US including in ‘When Saturday Comes’ and ‘Groundtastic’.
A few years back I set up the Centre Circle Publishing imprint and am currently working on a study of non-League football people titled ‘No Place Like Home’ that I hope to publish later in 2012.
What or who got you started in photographing sport?
I actually came to photography and sports photography in particular, quite late. Around 2001, having been writing a regular column for the then-Langney Sports programme under the pseudonym ‘Nomad’, which chronicled away games across Sussex, I decided to publish these columns on a website, and include an online Directory of all the county’s non-League clubs as well, just to make it a little more interesting.
I also decided to include a photograph of each of the grounds which is what got me started. As Langney Sports became Eastbourne Borough FC I became the club’s first website manager and began to include a few action shots to accompany match reports, as well as photograph away grounds. It just developed from there really.
You have successfully published popular books showcasing your work, most notably ‘Dugouts’ – a celebration of the dugouts that grace the pitches of football’s Non League clubs. What gave you the idea to do this and how did you go about getting your work published?
I’d begun photographing dugouts at Sussex County League grounds for the Directory, for the simple reason that at some of them there wasn’t anything else to photograph! In 2003 football grounds photographer Mike Floate invited me to contribute a Sussex volume to his ‘Football Grounds of …’ series, which was published in 2003.
In the book Mike assembled a couple of pages illustrating all the dugouts and for the first time I was struck by how varied they were. A couple of years later I spotted a book titled ‘The Roundabouts of Great Britain’ and thought (jokingly) that the publishers might be interested in a similar book about dugouts. I sent them a speculative email with a couple of examples and to my amazement I received an enthusiastic reply almost immediately.
Pure luck really. I think they saw it primarily as a humorous gift book idea although I was interested in it from a football culture perspective. It went on to become a ‘cult classic’.
You have a new book ‘Sport of Kings’ featuring your Horse Racing photography due for publication. Tell us a little bit about this project.
I’d always been interested in horse-racing since I was a child; then I worked for a bookmakers as a student and was a member at several racecourses. For this project however I wanted to illustrate ‘grass roots’ horse racing, away from the glamour of say Royal Ascot and decided to spend the best part of a year taking photographs at two of my local tracks, Plumpton and Brighton.
I wanted to focus on the setting, racegoers, and bookmakers, as well as the action and therefore the book is really a social documentary through the medium of photography: an approach I also use for my non-League football work. Racing is traditionally known as the sport of kings and therefore the book title is intentionally ironic. The book can be purchased online here.
What type of camera and lenses do you shoot with?
When you begin photography, particularly on a budget, you tend to get tied into a manufacturer, which tends to be Nikon or Canon. All of my equipment is the latter. I am currently using a Canon 7D as my main body, with a trusty 40D as back-up. The majority of my pictures are taken with a 17-85mm lens which I find ideal for the sort of images I prefer as I prefer to wait for the action to come to me, rather than use a long lens.
As Robert Capa once famously said: “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” and I prefer to be up close to my subject. I also have a 10-22mm lens, a 50mm lens, and an old f/4-5.6 70-300mm lens that I rarely use. However, I am thinking about finally getting an f/2.8 70-200mm L lens
What other equipment or accessories do you consider essential on your shoots?
I tend to move about quite a lot when photographing sports events and rarely remain static; therefore my kit has to be quite portable and able to fit into a backpack. I always have spare memory cards and batteries just in case, including for the flash if taking portraits. Also a digital voice recorder for interviews. Finally a cloth to clean lenses and towel for the camera in case it rains, along with waterproofs and a high-vis vest just in case I’m asked.
How important is Photoshop / Post Production in your final images?
It’s pretty important to be honest. I’d love to say that I’m good enough to get it perfect first time but when you are moving around taking pics in a hurry and often having to contend with changeable light, that’s not always possible.
I shoot everything in RAW because I’m not too bothered about taking rapid, long bursts of images and it gives me far more control with any editing that may be required afterwards, particularly with any exposure, white balance or other minor adjustments that might be necessary. When having to use a high ISO at quite fast shutter speeds in poor light, ‘Noise Ninja’ is also quite useful sometimes.
What has been your most memorable photo diary and why?
That’s such a difficult question to answer. Sometimes I come away from a non-League match thinking I’d done quite well, or more often feel rather disappointed, only to be pleasantly surprised when I see the results. As long I get a few images I really like from each shoot I’m happy.
I guess the best Photo Diaries are of games that are particularly important such as cup ties or play-off matches; for me it’s the spectators and the atmosphere that makes a particular Photo Diary special. The last game of the 2010/11 season at Altrincham was especially memorable, where Alty had to beat Eastbourne Borough to avoid relegation but ended up losing by the odd goal in seven!
Your work inspires me and a great deal of others – hence the interview. Where do you get your inspiration to create such amazing imagery?
Again that’s a difficult one but I guess it’s simply an ability to ‘see’ a photograph, perhaps from an unusual perspective. That’s why I tend to move around a lot: I get bored very quickly shooting action from the same vantage point and am always looking for a different ‘angle’, sometimes from a spectator’s point-of-view. I like to stand back and capture the ‘landscape’ in my sports pics, i.e. the setting in which the event is taking place rather than zoom in on the action.
My pics are often compared to those of Stuart Clarke, Martin Parr and Hans van der Meer; I admire them enormously but equally wouldn’t claim to be particularly influenced by them as I wasn’t really aware of their work until it was pointed out to me. My biggest influence is definitely William Eggleston and his love of saturated colour and subjects that might be considered mundane. There is nothing I love more than bright, slightly shabby paintwork at an old non-League ground!