Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Widow Of A Sports Photographer

The Widow of a Sports Photographer

Most weekends when major sports events were happening in Singapore or around Asia, almost always, you would find David unleashing his sports photography magic as Singaporemaven.  Yes, I often felt like a widow during these weekends.  So, I thought it was time for me to recognize the talent and dedication behind the lens within my blog.

Camera First Wife Second

When David found his passion in photography, I was resigned to playing second fiddle to his massive collection of photography equipment and paraphernalia at home.

When the delivery men carted a few “wine fridges” home one day, I was jumping up and down with glee, ecstatic that my man had such a big heart enough to acknowledge my love for red wine and wanted to turn a little corner at home into my personal wine haven by stocking these “wine fridges” with crates of Amarone and Barolo.  I was horrified when he carefully placed all his camera lenses in my wine fridges and learnt then that these boxes were not wine fridges after all.  They were in fact, Dry Cabinets to keep moisture out of his gear.

When we went out for long walks exploring secluded trails and heritage buildings, he would ask me to pose for photos, sometimes against the wall, sometimes under a tree, sometimes by the river.  My heart would swell with pride thinking that my man just wanted to take lots of photos of his beautiful bride, only to feel deflated when he said, “Just testing the light.”

When we traveled on our vacations, he would brandish a few extra bags. That seemed quite thoughtful of him as I often needed extra baggage space to store all that shopping.  However, these extra bags were instead used for different type of camera equipment which he claimed he needed for different type of shots he wanted to capture during our vacation.

It took me years to accept that his love for photography would always come first.  Secretly, I was even proud of him for honing his skills throughout the years to be one of the best in sports photography.  I could not argue with a man with a mission to make the most ordinary looking scenario, like a woman on a running track, into a most extraordinary picture of an athlete’s grit and passion as she crossed the finishing line.

Behind The Photography Work

David had often been jokingly described as the busiest photographer in Asia. Most weekends would be spent covering sports events like MMA events, Track competitions, Swimming meets, Soccer tournaments, and Rugby matches. He enjoyed rubbing shoulders with world class athletes and inspiring men and women who dedicated their lives to sports.  Sometimes, I wished they would rub off their commitment to a life of fitness, on him, so that he would visit the gym more regularly. 

He loved capturing unique shots at these events.  He told me he was not interested in just shooting the athlete performing at the event.  He said, “Anyone with a mobile phone could do that.”  He wanted to capture their emotions. Through his lens, he wanted to interpret their pain, their joy of winning, their sorrow of losing, their anxiety as they waited for the moment they had to “win or die fighting”.   I often looked forward to him coming home to edit his photos so that I could get first glimpse of wonderful shots he had captured.

As his wife, I was proud of him.  It took years of lonely weekends, but I finally understood why he was completely finicky about angles, composition, lighting and anything I would not give a toss about when I used my IPhone to take a photo of a favorite rugby player waving a V sign as he posed for a photo for me.

While many people might have spotted him walking pitch side during various games, what they might not realize was the work that went on after the hours spent on that pitch under the blazing sun or pouring rain. 

Beyond the photography work, he often spent hours at home combing through the thousands of photos taken and editing them.  His editing work might take an entire night, and he would sometimes only get to bed at 5am upon completing the edits.

I remembered how he was the only photographer who waited for hours, for a rugby team to arrive at a hotel as they were preparing for a big match in Singapore that weekend.  I wondered then, if it was because of the lack of patience that the younger or less experienced photographers were not there waiting alongside with him that night.  The rugby team did finally arrive at 1am. After covering that meet and greet session, he then hopped back home and went straight into his photo-editing work till wee hours of the morning.

Maybe, it was not patience. Perhaps it was grit and endurance. I remembered how he covered an MMA event in Bangkok till late Saturday night last week, completed the editing work at 2 am in the morning, slept for 2 hours, showered and prepared to leave for the airport at 5am so that he could catch the 7am flight to arrive back in Singapore at 11am on Sunday.  From the airport, he went straight to  the OCBC Arena to cover a Swimming competition. 

 I was in awe with that energy.  This energy could only be driven by one who had an immense passion for his craft.

As his wife, I was often anxious about whether he was getting enough rest although he told me he was not tired.  However, I finally understood what kept him going, pushing through his exhaustion was his love and pride for his photography work.

There was once, he came back to Singapore with bruises and a swollen knee after covering an MMA event over that weekend.  Apparently, before the stage was lit up in preparation for the fighters to walk out, the entire event venue was pitch black.  In order to get to his position to prepare to capture great shots of the fighters, he missed a step and fell.  When I questioned him about his bruises and swollen knee, he just brushed it away and told me it was nothing.

However, as his wife, I felt the pain, but I knew that that was his style.  His photography work came first.  Nothing else mattered. 

I also remembered him ranting one day about losing a contract for a weekend of sports photography work.  He mentioned that someone in an organization had decided to not hire professional photographers like him, and instead, had made the decision to invite a group of young amateur photographers to take photos for free. He had no issues with that as he too was once an amateur photographer hungry for the opportunity to better his skills and garner experience. 

What annoyed him was the decision of these officials and event organizers to use those photos taken by amateur photographers in subsequent marketing promotions, effectively getting free content to sell multi-million dollar events a few months later.  I was actually flabbergasted by that decision, not because I was his wife.

As a PR professional, I would never allow my team to submit to the press, lesser quality photographic work that had not been professionally taken as it would have been disastrous to my efforts in telling my company’s brand story.   For David, the principle was simple.  That decision, did so much injustice to the sports and the sportsmen and women in that game.

Another pet peeve that made me raving mad as I fiercely guarded the integrity of my husband's photography work was when I might come across social media posts, and press clippings featuring his photos without according him a credit.  

As his wife, I found myself gnashing my teeth and clenching my fists as I  sat behind my PC screen after every sports event, scanning through the web and social media platforms like a hawk, looking for those  who might creatively crop out David's watermark off his photos and post them on their social media feeds or publish them in the press without crediting him.

The wife, PR professional and Team Ash’s unofficial Intellectual Property lawyer and policewoman in me would gamely send messages to these people to take down the photos or face an angry wife’s wrath.

The Photographer’s Wife

I am proud to be a photographer’s wife.  To me, my husband is an artist and a writer too.  He does not just take a photograph of a sportsperson.  With his camera, the Singaporemaven paints a picture and writes his or her story in a way that inspires the rest of us to live our lives to be the best that we can be, the way these sportspeople do.

So when you do meet David with his camera in his hands, do ask for a shot by the Singaporemaven.  That photo of you, would be taken by not just the busiest photographer in Asia, but to me, also the best.

*The sports photography work featured in this blog post have been provided by Singaporemaven Photography.  For more details on his work, please visit singaporemaven.com and follow him on Singaporemaven’s Facebook page and Instagram @singaporemaven


About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media when time permits.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from 
singaporemaven.com.  She is passionate about Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.