TWG Photographer Rachel Bach takes us through her game day experience at the Asian Cup.
When I arrived at the stadium for the first group game, I felt a mixture of elation and anxiety. That’s more or less how I feel every time I photograph the Matildas. I’m excited to be there, but I also feel the pressure to deliver a good story.
My first point of business when I get into the ground is to choose a seat. I’ll consider such things as lighting, where the Matildas’ bench is located, and where the Aussie fans are seated. Then it’s time to test my gear. Once the team comes out to warm up, it’s all systems go.
I love shooting warm-ups – it’s a chance to gage how the players are feeling. But it’s also when I feel most self-conscious.
The playing group is only meters away, and the sound of my camera shutter is conspicuous. Aivi Luik starts laughing when she notices my lens facing her, and proceeds to stick her tongue out at me. Light-hearted moments like this make me feel slightly more at ease. It’s reassuring.
Once the warm-up is finished, it’s time to get ready for the teams walking out. Everything seems to happen very quickly at this point. I’m on the lookout for substitutes, coaches, officials, and starting players.
Then there’s the anthems, handshakes, team photos and the coin toss. It can be overwhelming, but I know that I can’t capture everything. The beauty of a tournament is that I can focus on different aspects in different matches.
As I’m walking past the bench to get back to my seat, Alanna Kennedy grins and says hi. It serves as a reminder of how accessible (and lovely!) these players are, and it hits me that I’m at an international tournament doing what I love most.
Then the match starts, and by then my adrenaline is pumping. It takes time to settle, and how the Matildas are playing largely affects that.
Photographing them is an emotional investment for me – I’m not just shooting, I’m also a passionate fan. I’m willing them to score, and cursing when things go wrong – albeit rather silently. After all, I’m on the field, self-conscious and all.
At half time, I’ll quickly upload and edit a few photos that our writers can use for graphics and articles. When the match restarts it’s time to focus again – I haven’t mastered the art of photographic multi-tasking, so away the laptop goes.
After the game, it’s time to capture some post-match reactions, before rushing over to the media centre. My accreditation won’t let me shoot the press conference at this tournament, but I want to hear Alen Stajcic’s take anyway.
Once question time is over, Staj comes over – a handshake and a quick hello to the small Aussie media contingent.
Afterwards, I rush home to start editing. The time difference means that everyone back home in Australia will start waking up soon, so the gallery needs to be ready. I walk in the door around 11.00pm and start sorting through the hundreds of frames from a few hours earlier.
I carefully select those that best tell the story – they need to be engaging. I try to choose a good mix of players and angles, as I think about the album as a whole. It’s 1.30am by the time the gallery is finished and uploaded to the website. Inevitably, I’m exhausted.
This is only game one of five. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.