National Badminton League at the Albert Hall!   Leave a comment

Yeah, well I got this totally wrong!

In the latter part of last year a certain Physio named Krista, whom I work alongside for Notts County Ladies F.C., mentioned that she was involved with the University badminton team. Of course, I immediately said I’d love to shoot the sport and she said she’d let me know the dates nearer the time of their next game in January.

So there was I thinking ‘local leisure center’ badminton when last week Krista emails me to say she’d got me ‘photographer accreditation’ for the game on the 26th. ‘Accreditation’? For a leisure center knock-about?

The penny slowly began to drop when I arrived at the venue that evening – The Albert Hall, Nottingham! Parked outside, feeding cables in to the auditorium, where two ginormous television lorries. Sky Sports were covering the game! So not the local leisure center then?

Here’s the evening in words and pictures:

DL8D7736_0060So rule number one; try not to get in shot of the TV cameras and get thrown out. This means finding the people in charge and asking where you can photograph from and where you can’t. The University had a plethora of helpful friendly people that told me how not to get thrown out.

DL8D7794_0117Here is just one of the many friendly Nottingham University staff that make this whole thing possible. Although she’s slacking off here phoning in a Pizza order.

1L0A8755_1581This is the Albert Hall, playing NBL badminton to a full house.

DL8D7752_0076Prior to the match between Nottingham and Loughborough they let a number of children come on court and thrash a shuttlecock back and forth. They had great fun and those crafty organisers built the fan base of the future.

DL8D7773_0098The capacity crowd was ready to go and had been issued with those inflatable tube things you bang together. And this cheeky trio had smuggled in a couple of pink honkers – which they honked at strategic points in the games.

DL8D7788_0112Now, bear in mind that this was my first time shooting badminton and therefore have no idea who anybody is. But this is a recognisable tableau in TV coverage; the main presenter is paying scant attention and looking for his next question on his list, the guy talking is in a world of his own and the guy far right not talking is wishing the other guy would shut up so he can.

DL8D8507_0825The game gets underway and the crowd are loving it. Nottingham seem to be winning (I think). I begin to realise that the ‘best’ pictures are those that don’t have the shuttlecock in frame. In fact the overheads that do have the shuttlecock in view are pretty boring. How odd.

DL8D8589_0904See! Great dynamic body shape and not a shuttlecock in sight – it’s already on the other side of the net!

DL8D8267_0586Seems the only time it works well is when it’s a reaching low to the court kinda shot – then it’s okay.

DL8D8598_0912The game progressed – certain strange things happened that I didn’t understand, like the ‘power play’. I think this is where a player is allowed to serve two shuttle cocks at the same time and one is filled with exploding custard or something like that. Anyway the ‘heart beat’ music played during the power play point was tres atmospheric and really got the crowd involved.

DL8D8631_0945This was not the only time music was used to good effect; when dangerously slippery sweat needed mopping up, the girl perform the task accompanied by the ‘Benny Hill’ chase music….

DL8D8575_0890…. much to the hilarity of the crowd. It was funny. 🙂

DL8D8650_0962And the pranks didn’t stop there – at the end of his game Kieran Merrilees slipped an electric shock ‘buzzer’ in to his hand before shaking hands with the chair umpire!

DL8D9119_1428An epic night of badminton concluded with Nottingham University running out emphatic winners.

DL8D8452_0768I’d met a lot of wonderful and friendly people…

DL8D7770_0094… managed to dodge the cameras and not get thrown out….

DL8D9196_1505…. but still get right in the thick of it….

DL8D9188_1497… but just missed out on bombing this selfie!

I had a great night and thought the whole evening was fantastic – I’ll be back again if they’ll have me. Thanks Krista! 🙂

(C) Drew Smith Photography

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