The Deer Hunter
My experience at Tele2 Arena yesterday could only be described as Seinfeldian. I was on hand to photograph the match between Djurgården and Elfsborg. It had all the criteria for an interesting evening. Djurgården was coming off of a few wins and hoping to build on it. Elfsborg coming off of several losses and needing to turn the tide.
I did the first half with Elfsborg coming towards me. I placed my self along the goal line, which is my favorite place to sit. The way Tele2 Arena is set up the advertisement banners along the goal line do not extend all the way to the corner flag. I placed myself in the arena where the banner had stopped, in line with them of course. I was no closer to the pitch than I would have been if I had been behind the banner. This is a position that one photographer or another has used since the arena opened earlier in the summer. An area that we have been told that we are allowed to use.
There I sat and worked until a crowd stewart came over and told me I needed to move. I wasn’t allowed to sit there for safety reasons. He was rather authoritative, I could tell right away that he wanted to let me know who was in charge. After a half hearted attempt to explain to him that I could in fact sit there I gave up and moved. Irritated I tried to focus on the game and let go off the situation. When I moved I ended up moving closer to another photographer and he in turn got up and moved into my old space. It didn’t take too long for the stewart to wander over to him and again exercise his authority. The photographer tried to plea his case but there was no doing and he ended up having to move.
As soon as the first half was over I saw the other photographer talking to a club official and I immediately joined in. It was quickly decided that we could in fact sit in that area and that the stewart was wrong. The stewart was brought into the conversation and everything was resolved. Smiles and a couple of pats on the back. We are all here to do our jobs and the best jobs we can. Now the second half is starting and I make the decision to stay put knowing I can sit where I originally wanted to. Elfsborg had taken the lead in the first half but I had a feeling the home team could put one away and then maybe ride that towards a draw.
The match progresses and Djurgården is coming on strong. They are creating chances. They have a corner, I decide to stay on the camera with my 400mm lens. The framing is tight. It would be easier to switch to the camera with the 70-200mm lens but I want push myself. If I set it, it will almost certainly be a better picture.
They are about to take the corner and I am fully concentrated. Left hand on the lens with my index finger atop the AF-Stop button, ready to strike. My other hand on the camera. My thumb on the multi-dial ready to move the focus point. Index finger is holding the shutter button down half way. Deep breath and concentration. Complete focus. Staying on 400mm lens means the people can come in and out of frame very easily.
For a second I feel like I’m hunting deer. I block out the sound of the crowd. I’m alone in the woods stalking my prey. They take the corner and I start shooting. Suddenly I hear something running toward me from behind. I’m startled. I hear uncontrolled screaming and realize that it’s the stewart. He’s yelling at the progression of the situation like a rabid fan.
Everything shatters.The bubble bursts and my concentration is gone. The only thing I can think of is “Is this guy for real?” He went from Mr. Authority in the first half to Super Fan in the second. I regain my composure and keep shooting. For the remainder of the match on every occasion that was played on my end of this pitch this man had something to say. He yelled at players. He yelled at the referee. He yelled at life in general for things that were not going as they should.
When there was a goal I could hear him celebrating like a madman somewhere behind me, but he didn’t throw me off. I captured Emil Bergström’s goal from start to finish. Him getting in front of James Keane and heading it into the goal. Him running past the goal on the far side and then making a left turn and running right at me. The stars aligned and I had a perfect position and was able to fire off frame after frame. The icing on the cake is that he came right up to me and looked right into my camera.
Suddenly everything seems to have worked out. The crazy stewart is an afterthought. If everything stays the way it is I got a fantastic chance of having the best celebratory shots of the evening. Some very publishable material. But this wouldn’t have been a sitcom-esque evening if everything worked out in my favor. In the end my luck was short lived, Elfsborg scored another goal at the 89th minute and my celebratory shots lost all their significance.
These images and more available exclusively via Pic-Agency.