Frame, set and match: how Eddie Keogh
© Eddie Keogh/AELTC
Canon Explorer Eddie Keogh has been photographing top-level sports events around the world since the early 1980s and his latest assignment was to cover the 2015 Wimbledon Tennis Championships. In an exclusive interview he spoke to CPN writer Steve Fairclough to reveal how he shot Wimbledon 2015 and what equipment he used to capture all the action and atmosphere from 'London SW19'...
During his career Eddie estimates he has shot around 20 Wimbledon Championships, dating all the way back to 1983, but 2015 saw him working directly for the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) – the club that hosts the tournament – for the first time. “It was a little bit different,” reveals Eddie. “Bob Martin (Photograph Liaison Manager) kind of runs the whole show, so he asked me if I’d come along and work with him.”
Eddie adds: “Out of all of the sporting events that I go to the guys who run the [Wimbledon] competition really ‘do’ photography well. That’s probably down to Bob Martin having such a big influence there now. There’s photography everywhere – all over the whole of Wimbledon – at every court. There are pictures in all the offices and all the media rooms. Everywhere you go there are big pictures, so photography is really important to Wimbledon.”
After the vetting process about 150 photographers get official accreditation to cover the Wimbledon Championships and Eddie reveals: “It’s the first year we’ve had a brand new photographers’ workroom. We have our own room behind glass; those who work at Wimbledon have the biggest room because they’ve got the most people working there. Then all the agencies – Reuters, AFP, Press Association… they have their own little workrooms as well. Everybody else has a ‘work desk’ – that desk has a lockable lid so you can padlock it and you can leave your laptop safely when you go out to work. Every photographer has a locker so all your equipment is safe.”
He adds: “Canon [Professional Services] are there to help to facilitate anything that photographers want – if there’s any problem with their gear; if they want a lens loan or if they want to talk about how WFTs work on the back of the camera you’ve got the Canon team there – they do a great job. It’s great that they’re literally there in the next room to us – it’s really nice that they’re ‘in amongst it’.”
The Wimbledon kitbag
As for what equipment he used to shoot Wimbledon, Eddie explains: “My kitbag was a 14mm f/2.8, a 24-70mm f/2.8, a 70-200mm f/2.8 and I’ve got the 70-200mm f/4 as well – I use both depending on what I’m doing on the day. I’ve actually been using the 200-400mm [with built-in extender] as well – that’s been really good; it’s a slightly more ‘sports news’ lens as opposed to a pure sports photographer’s lens in some ways. A 200mm f/2 [lens] would have beautiful, out-of-focus backgrounds but sometimes when you’re on the 200-400mm at 400mm and something happens that’s more wide-angle you can be on a 200mm [focal length] in half a second. It really does have its moments when it’s really handy to have. I’ve also used the 500mm f/4 this year as well from ‘up top’; when you're shooting from a very high angle the 500mm f/4 has been very good, either on its own or with an extender.”
Eddie was working in a team of official ‘club photographers’ who were briefed by Bob Martin every morning. “Eight or nine photographers are there and each one almost has his own speciality. I specialise more in the immediate photography [for] social media and the [Wimbledon] website. Other photographers concentrate on other details at Wimbledon – doing crowd shots, stadium shots, [images] for the sponsors – Rolex, Slazenger, Robinsons, Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren sponsors all the umpires, all of what they and the ball boys and girls wear, so there are guys literally concentrating on getting the best shots of ball boys and girls and umpires – all that is in the brief.”
He explains: “Basically the photographs I take, starting from the most immediate, were literally sent from the back of the camera with a WFT-E6 [Wireless File Transmitter unit]. You either use WiFi or we’re using ethernet cables plugged into the camera, depending on where you are. As things happen they [the club] literally say to you ‘can you do a picture of Roger Federer walking on court?’ So you do a picture of Roger Federer walking on court, send it and they put it out on their Twitter feed… ‘Hey guys, guess what? Roger Federer’s just walked on court – why don’t you get somewhere or to a screen and watch the game?’ The whole thing is really quite immediate.”
“They look to me for action – you get out and get the action from the games; get the nice moments, like when Serena and Venus [Williams] hugged after their game. As soon as they hugged, before they walk off the court they [the AELTC] have got a picture of them hugging. As soon as whoever wins a game and celebrates with their hands in the air, you have a quick look at the back of the camera and then send your best frame; that goes on Twitter, Instagram, on the Wimbledon website – that’s the immediate use.”
RAW + JPEG, WiFi and workflow
Eddie reveals: “I was shooting RAW + JPEG on an EOS-1D X. The JPEG is for immediate use so, when I’m sending, I send the JPEG from the back of the camera. When the day is all done we walk back in to our room and download only the RAW [files]. The JPEGs are then dismissed. So, we download all the RAW files and we work from RAW; from the RAW we do a high-res JPEG, which sits alongside the RAW when we give our pictures to Bob Martin.
At the end of the day he has a high-res JPEG as we’ve cropped it but sitting alongside that is a RAW file, so if they ever want to go back to it – if they need more room or they want to re-Photoshop it – they’ve got the RAW file. It's a very good system; it all works very well.”
The workflow was also speeded up thanks to the superb WiFi system at the tournament. “There was a fantastic WiFi set-up. Literally everywhere in Wimbledon – however many acres that is but it’s a big, big area – you could WiFi [images] from the back of your camera. They’ve spent a lot of money on comms. All the ‘show courts’ have ethernet ports – you bring your own cable and plug in to your camera. There’s a lot more people sending [images] straight from the camera now.”
Eddie had to miss a couple of days of Wimbledon 2015 due to a prior commitment on another shoot for O2 but he shot about 10 or 11 days of the championships and reveals: “I was shooting 2,000 frames a day, so times 10 – that’s 20,000 pictures! Obviously the Twitter feed was not just me – they were using everybody else’s pictures as well. Everybody else was taking superb pictures as well and they used a lot on Instagram as well.” In fact, the official Wimbledon Twitter feed has over 1.75 million followers so it’s pretty obvious Eddie’s images have already been seen extensively around the world.
As for his camera settings Eddie notes: “Colour balance changes throughout the day, depending on whether it’s sunny or cloudy or when the [Centre Court] roof closes. Funnily enough when the roof closes the Auto White Balance [setting] was the best – I tried to do it manually by Kelvin [setting] but the lights kind of flicker and when you do it by Kelvin you’re actually getting different colours. Auto White Balance is actually best when the roof was closed and the lights were on.”
He adds: “I’m using very fast shutter speeds. If you want to get [freeze] the ball on the racket, because obviously the ball is going pretty fast, it’ll be 1/1250sec [shutter speed] at the minimum; I’ll try to shoot at 1/2000th [of a sec] of the light is good. ISO 200 if the light’s nice and sometimes up to ISO 1600 when the roof is closed and the light isn't so good.”
From his kitbag Eddie admits: “The main lens would be the 200-400mm – that’s the one I’d use the most. Then the 24-70mm is quite nice for slightly wider shots to try to show a bit more of the stadium or the court where you are and, occasionally, to get some really wide shots, if you’ve got a nice ‘blue sky’ day with clouds, then the 14mm can be really nice. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is also a key lens so, depending on what I want, the lenses I use most are the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 200-400mm. I shot with the 1D X at around eight or nine frames a second.”
Long edits and lots of grass
Eddie sums up working at Wimbledon 2015 by admitting: “It went well. They are long, long days – we’re in at around 9 [am] in the morning and I think the earliest I left at night was about 10.30pm. You edit [the pictures] yourself, whereas at Reuters all of the editing is done by an editor. At the end of the day if you finish [shooting] at 8 o’clock you then go in, sit down and start editing your pictures. Probably between 60 and 100 pictures per day would be the final edit.”
But what was his best image taken during the tournament? “My favourite picture would be Dustin Brown celebrating his win over Rafael Nadal. His long hair is flying everywhere and it would have been even better if the ball boy had not held up a ball at that moment. You can just see some yellow in the bottom of the frame, so I had to crop it really tight.”
He adds: “Working for the club was a little bit different to working for Reuters. Reuters tend to be bigger and bolder [in terms of image composition] and Wimbledon… well, they want to see grass! It’s the most famous grass tennis tournament in the world, so that sort of thing has to be stressed. They don't want too many ‘top half’ [shots of players]; they want to see that these guys are playing on grass. They also want atmosphere – to show a bit more of the crowds, the stadiums and the venue than maybe you would do if you were working for Reuters. They [the club] were good to work for – they are very professional.”
Eddie Keogh’s Wimbledon kitbag
3x EOS-1D X
WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter
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Biography: Eddie Keogh
© Eddie Keogh
Eddie Keogh is a freelance photographer who shoots sports and sports features for Reuters and has also shot for commercial clients including Rolex, O2, Rolls Royce and Barclays. He worked as a sports photographer for UK national newspapers from 1986 to 2005 and covered his first Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA, at the age of 21. He has photographed eight FIFA football World Cup Finals and in 2006 won the Barclays Premier League Football Photographer of the Year Award. In 2009 and 2010 Eddie won the Sports Journalists Association (SJA) Sports News Picture of the Year award and was named UK Picture Editors Sports Photographer of the Year in 2010. He won the SJA Sports Picture Portfolio award in 2012 and became a Canon Explorer in May 2013.