Being a photographer is one of the best jobs ever and it’s been my pleasure to cover sporting events up and down the country, and I have been lucky enough to see some great matches and games. Not only do I get to cover what’s happening on the pitch, field and track but I also get to photograph players and athletes before and after the events. It’s one thing to be able to be close to the action at so many matches and take candid shots, and yet another to be face to face with great sportspeople before or after the event and capture their personality. Chatting to them gives me a lot of background information and helping them to relax and open up leads to some wonderful shots. I always hope to not just capture the sport events themselves, but something of the essence of these sportspeople and show just what it is that makes them champions, standing head and shoulders over the rest of us.

As I said, I cover events all over the UK but as I am based in the north-west, many events take place there and I am asked to photograph them. Being a sports photographer Stoke is one of my favorite ways to spend a day. It’s a great city for a start and is of course very well-known in the sports world. There’s a lot going on: football tournaments, cricket, basketball, rugby/soccer – as well as all kinds of other events.

Stoke is a brilliant venue for sports and it’s of course within easy reach of other sports towns that host some amazing events to cover; Newcastle-under-Lyme, Congleton, Cheadle and Audley all have a plethora of sportspeople and regularly host events worth attending, and of course photographing.

When working as a sports photographer Stoke, it’s not just a question of turning up and shooting the event in question; any professional sports photographer will spend plenty of time beforehand planning exactly how to cover the event – for example, I always have an idea of exactly where I will stand, where I can move to, and work out all the best vantage spots and angles for the day. I also have to reckon on sudden weather changes and be ready for changes in light and atmosphere. While every sport follows different rules, what unites them is the lightning speed of the players and athletes. As a sports photographer Stoke, I have to catch these micro-seconds when everything changes. The crucial moments have to be there on film and a half second too late may make a shot meaningless. Thanks to my experience I am able to capture exactly what’s going on.

And since I have been invited to be there, I know that I will be spending a bit of time with the sportspeople themselves and photograph them in close-up. To do that, I will need to bring with me lighting and background devices and ensure I choose the set-up which is going to reflect the players and athletes at their very best. Photography isn’t for those who settle for second best and to be a professional who stands out requires not just skill but dedication and a quest for brilliancy.

Naturally, I also consider the end product – where the photographs are going to be seen and the audience who will be looking at them. It makes a difference if the shots are going to appear in print media or somewhere on the web; what works for one, may not for the other. There’s a lot to consider.

After the event is over and the post-event photography has been done, it’s a question of going back home and doing all the editing. Out of many hundreds of photos, the ones that are the finest have to be chosen, and then, of course, edited before the results are sent out. And just because we photographers no longer have to work in darkrooms, this doesn’t mean to say that our work has become easier. With digital products, we know that editing is even more crucial and we need to be able to provide the maximum quality. I pride myself on doing this, without skimping on quality or cutting any corners. And when the deadline arrives, or even before it does, the work is always ready to be sent. As a sports photographer Stoke, I know that exacting craftsmanship is required and I make sure that I deliver it.

Stoke boasts not only its well-known sportspeople but there are also many up-and-coming players and athletes; some may still be at school but all deserve the very best when it comes to sports coverage and photography. My job is to give them this and help them succeed in a tough yet rewarding domain.