Tom Jenkins on scoring ‘The Money Shot’

November 8, 2019

Do I feel pressure trying to get that shot? Yes I do. Definitely. It’s a pressurised environment. Often where I’m working there are photographers all around me
and we are all out to get that best shot. When I miss the shot it’s… it’s quite hard to take. You know, I suppose when I was younger and
less experienced I would be really pretty angry. You’re standing at the end of the 100m straight and you got Usain Bolt coming towards you at quite a speed and it’s sort of
nine seconds and it’s – boom! – gone. And you’ve been there all day setting up loads of cameras and you’ve
got this big, big moment and it’s there for a fraction of a second. That is pressure. There’s a reason why camera manufacturers often test their
top level cameras on sports photographers. We push them to extremes. We’re often shooting under poor conditions. We want fast shutters. We want really quick motor drives. We are pushing the camera the furthest it can go to. I never know sometimes what I’m doing from one week to the next and
features come up that I might have to go and illustrate, be it you know, a top level or grass roots level. That’s where I started; doing things where I didn’t
need permission to go and photograph. These grassroots games, you can be much tighter to the action and there might be quirky, offbeat stuff that just don’t happen at top level sport. I have three cameras with me the whole time: a 400mm lens, 70-200mm zoom, and then 24-70mm lens on a 1D-X Mark II. A lot of the places that I’m working, there’s lots and lots of gear
around, lots of other photographers. So I put pink tape all over my gear to make sure I know it’s mine. In a fast moving subject that sport is, it’s absolutely critical to
have autofocus working perfectly and now it’s amazing. That is the biggest game changer and development in
technology that I’ve seen over the last 30 years. So at the moment I’ve got it on only cross-type AF points. Cross-type
AF points are just a bit more sensitive and react quicker for me. I use custom modes where I can sort of do like a preset exposure. I’ve got my main action setting so 1/1600 sec f/4 for doing normal peak of the action. And I might want a slow pan blur picture. So I just press this button and I’ve already got 1/20 sec f/8 to pan the shot. The 70-200mm lens is probably the lens that I use more than anything in my job. It’s my real workhorse of a lens and it’s vital to me. But I often say you don’t need to take great sports
pictures on these amazing big lenses. I started off with just a 50mm lens but that taught me
how to frame things, how to actually go in close. I focus through my right eye the whole time but when I’m shooting a
game I look also through my left eye to see what is going on. I’m following the play but out the corner of my eye
I might see a manager going loopy on the touchline. Bang! Over to the manager. People come up to me and say, “What do you do for a living?” And I say I’m a sports photographer and they go, “Wow, that must be amazing!You mean you get to sit on the touchline right next to
these amazing athletes doing amazing things?”And I sort of take a minute and I think
Yeah, it’s not bad, is it really?

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