Backgrounds Are Important

Alex Lewington attempts to hold up Jamie Elliott before the line

Shooting at Franklin’s Gardens is different to other grounds.  There are restrictions in place and only certain photographers (usually big agencies and club photographers) can shoot from the South Stand.

Samu Manoa, one of Saints several big ball carriers, on the charge

This means unless you have a coveted ‘South-marked Bib’ you pretty much have to stay at the Sturridge End for both halves.  It is possible to shoot from the side at the south-west or south-east corners but unless you really have to cover a specific team, it isn’t worth it.  The angles aren’t good and the jumble of the Sturridge Stand along with the ticket booths, big screen and ambulances doesn’t make for a good, clean background for the photos.

Ben Foden is stopped by Marland Yarde

Backgrounds are important.  Generally, you try and minimise the amount of clutter and distractions. Sometimes you can’t do anything about it - such as if you are shooting from the Goldsmith’s end at Welford Road - but it pays to spend time choosing a good spot.  Full stands are generally good, but if there are empty seats or stewards in hi-vis jackets, it can ruin an otherwise great photo.

Luther Burrell barrels through the Irish defence

Because the sidelines at the Gardens aren’t very big, the other big difference to other grounds is that you aren’t pitchside but behind the advertising hoardings.  At the Sturridge End, the corporate guests can come right up to the boards which means you’re competing for space with them.  As they tend to lean over when anything exciting happens in the corners, more often than not it’s impossible to get the action.  If you’re really unlucky, you might end up with a pint spilt over you.

Marland Yarde is dumped by Luther Burrell

As it turned out, the Sturridge End was the best place to be - Northampton had all of the play in the first half, leading 24-0 at half-time and then Irish rallied in the second, scoring three tries in ten minutes.  If Irish had won the game, I would probably have been quids in as the papers would have run with the Irish tries.  Since I was the only one at the Irish end, then I had a captive market.

Marland Yarde looks up at the big screen during a TMO decision on his disallowed try

Unfortunately, Saints won, so that was that…

JP Doyle calls for the TMO, a frequent occurrence during the game.

Graham Wilson is a professional sports photographer and can be contacted via his website or twitter.

See Graham's other blog posts.

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