Football match for women and children only
Wilco Van HERPEN
Hürriyet Daily News photo by Emrah Gürel.Last week, for the first time in my life, I went to a football mach. For my photography program I had a very special guest this time; Emre Oktay. For years, he has been taking pictures for the Hürriyet newspaper and even won a prize with one of his sports pictures. He invited me to come along to a football match between Beşiktaş and Sivasspor. The only problem was it would be a match without an audience; only women and children were allowed to watch the game.
I am lucky that I work for Digitürk; it was quite easy for me to get the accreditation. All I had to do was to go to the live broadcast truck of Lig tv and get my accreditation. I do not know if you have ever seen the live broadcasting truck, but for me it was the first time I saw it. It was in one word impressive….
From the outside all you can see is a long colorless dull trailer without any windows, surrounded by hundreds of cables. Once you enter the trailer, you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a high-tech control center.
Behind a switchboard with hundreds of buttons and more than a dozen screens sits Musa Çözen. Like a machine gun, he fires orders to all the people surrounding him, then speaks to all of the cameramen in the stadium and finally turns around to welcome me. He is like the captain of a ship; whatever Musa tells people will be done directly. He decides what the people at home will see on their television.
The number of police
In no time, Musa arranged all the things that you need when you have to work in the stadium; a special press card and a blue vest shows you are accredited. I thanked him and of we went to the press entrance. Walking down the steep hill of Kasımpaşa I saw hundreds of police, all looking important and impressive. I wondered if the amount of police wasn’t a bit exaggerated. For a match where only women and children are allowed to attend, the number of police surprised me a bit.
Once we passed the first checkpoint, Emre had to arrange a couple of things, so I waited before the last gate that leads to the stadium. While I was waiting, the first autobus with football players arrived.
The team from Sivasspor arrived and after a kind of chaotic maneuver from the driver, the bus stopped and the players jumped out the bus. Minutes later, the second bus arrived. It was not difficult to understand which team was coming; the black and white design of the car made it clear that this was Beşiktaş arriving. Within minutes, those football players also went out of the bus. Football is a team sport and therefore, I was kind of surprised to see most of the players from both teams leaving the bus without any interaction between them. Some of the players even isolated themselves more by wearing big headphones, so they did not have to listen to anything else than their music. They quickly left the bus and disappeared.
Flirting with the camera
Together with Emre, we went through the second checkpoint and there I was, for the first time in my life on a football field. Emre directly went to one of the corners and choose his spot from where he was going to work. He opened his bags and took out two big cameras. On one of the camera’s he attached his 400 mm tele objective, the other camera was for general shots. Before the match starts he always walks around and takes pictures of the supporters and I followed Emre like a well-trained dog that does not leave its boss. However, it did not take long for me to forget Emre, because although there were not so many supporters, the women who came to encourage their club were all dressed up beautiful and photogenic. They woke the photographer in me up and I wondered why I never went to a soccer match before. This was great, this was real fun. All the supporters were flirting with the camera. Whenever a photographer aimed his camera at them, they started posing as if they were professional models.
The moment the referee blew his whistle Emre changed; he transformed into a hunter. With the big tele objective ready in his hands, he was following the match like an eagle scanning the area for prey.
Not only Emre, all the photographers were fixated on the match. The first long distance pass came and all the photographers were ready. Then, one of the football players made a move to the goal and it was as if I heard a sewing machine working. Emre took, just of this one action, at least 20 or 30 pictures. Because I was too much focused on Emre, I missed the whole opportunity and for me the action was gone. Result: 1 picture for me, 30 for Emre… Throughout the match this was more or less the story. Before I understood that this might be a nice thing to take a picture, the whole situation was finished. Emre’s machine, on the contrary, was constantly making sewing machine noises. The break might be a break for the footballers, but for the photographers in the field, it definitely was not. All of them took out their laptops and started selecting pictures.
The second half started, it was around 9 p.m. and the difference between the first half and now was Emre was both following the match, but at the same time looking at all the pictures he took so far (about 1,500!!!) and working on them in Photoshop. He was sending pictures, looking at his pictures and then, all of a sudden, he would fire his camera again. This was incredible; all I know about photography is that you always work on a story or on aesthetics. For Emre, action is the thing that comes first; aesthetics comes second.
The match was finished, Emre took some last pictures of a team that was disappointed and depressed because they did not win this match. Then, like all his other colleagues, he sat down behind his laptop and selected the last pictures. He had to be fast, the newspaper’s deadline was just half an hour later and they needed his pictures for the next day’s story. Watching such a football match without supporters was very interesting for me. I am not a football fan, but being here with all those shouting and supporting women gave me a thrill. I cannot imagine how it is to watch a match between one of the leading football clubs like Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, Trabzonspor etc. That should be a party from the beginning until the end.