Review - Sports Photography with Mark Pain, 18 Oct 2021

A review by Janine Scola - Sports Photography with Mark Pain, 18 Oct 2021
What a treat of an evening we were given when Mark Pain joined us via Zoom at the club. I think there are many of us who have either participated or enjoyed watching sport, and then seen magical images appear in the newspapers the next day and thought WOW, that has really captured the moment.

Well Mark Pain is just one of those photographers – his background as a multi-award winning sports photographer with over 25 years’ experience and international recognition, has seen him covering major events worldwide from the last four Olympic Games to the Ryder Cup and of course, football and rugby World Cups. Mark is definitely at the ‘top of his game’ (apologies for the pun!) and was the Chief Sports Photographer for the Mail on Sunday.

The evening started with a short video sequence of some of Mark’s favourite images entitled “Capturing the Moment” – and they certainly did that! One in particular, was the shot – quite literally as it turned out – of Tiger Woods taking a swing at his golf ball in not the best conditions, but not hitting it as he wished, and for the shot to head directly to the front of Mark’s lens. This was an amazing image, although probably not from Mark’s point of view, showing the ball just before it made contact with its target, with the image becoming internationally renowned.

Other images presented equally fascinating stories in how they were achieved. However, the lesson for all of us to take away to improve our level of achievement, was simply to be prepared – whether it be sports photography, landscape or wildlife. Mark stated that if you get comfortable, take your time and put yourself in a good position then you are physically prepared. Technically, he encouraged us to shoot in manual, choosing auto-focus, alongside the right ISO, shutter speed and aperture for our environment, and then we would be prepared mentally, knowing that all was in place ready for us to take that ‘moment in time’. Mark offered further stories behind some of his other photographs, covering bob-sleigh, Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi and horse-racing using a fisheye lens, to amazing silhouette images giving a very different perspective.

For the second half of the evening, Mark again showed a short video covering his favourite images taken during the last four Olympic Games – having travelled to Sydney, Athens, Beijing and of course, London – not a bad life! Here we saw one of the Bahamian relay runners on the track, running in front of the Olympic flames – the difference to this shot was the heat haze being given off, which gave the photo a unique quality and for Mark, the image he was aiming to achieve. As he said, this was all about being prepared, being in the right place and the patience to wait for the right time! Another was his story behind the photograph of one of the Chinese diving team in his practice dive, with the spray of water coming from the top of his head in a beautiful arch as he curled into his dive. The previous day Mark had watched their performance, but the distraction of seating behind his position was not good. With a bit of perseverance and finding out when they would be practicing, this provided the opportunity for him to be in the place he wanted, which in turn gave him image presented to us.

This was an evening which offered some superb photographs covering major world sporting events, but each showing their own story and the impact of that moment. Our thanks to Mark for a splendid presentation and his time in answering many of our questions too.

Well members, we have land, water and if we’re unlucky, snow too, so there is really no excuse for us not to get out there – have a go in manual (if you don’t already!) - you might get it wrong, but finding out why and trying again means you can only get better!


~ Janine Scola