The old adage reads “A picture is worth a thousand words”. This has never been more appropriate when it comes to our beloved sport rugby. Ever so often the committed and hard work of the sports photographers goes unnoticed until the next day when it is splashed over every newspaper’s front-page.
Rugby15.co.za feels honoured to be associated with two of South Africa’s top Sports Photographers. We zoom in a bit closer to have a behind-the-scenes look at Gerhard Steenkamp and Hilton Kotze.
Gerhard Steenkamp has been specialising in action photos from as early as 1984. Since then his work has been widely published in major publications across the world, including SA Sports Illustrated, Rugby International, Rapport, Rugby News and many others. (www.superimage.co.za)
Hilton Kotze is a dynamic photographer that specialises in wildlife photography and recently started capturing sporting heroes on camera. In 2007 he won the Getaway Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. When he isn’t busy chasing wild animals he shifts his focus to the “animals” on the sport fields. (www.hiltonkotze.com)
Gerhard and Hilton took time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions.
What sparked your interest in photography? Especially sports photography.
Gerhard Steenkamp: I got hooked thanks to the Sports page of the Sunday newspaper when I was still in primary school. I knew then already that I wanted to do this.
Hilton Kotze: Over the years I acquired all the lenses for my wildlife photography. Then in 2006 I was approached by someone to cover a rugby match and I got hooked immediately. I have never looked back since. I love it.
Describe what a typical event day entails.
GS: It starts the day before. Picking up media passes, checking equipment and then on the day arriving hours before the match to set up my camera and computer. I will take photos of the crowd before the game starts and then be busy taking photos until the last formality has finished. At halftime and just after the game I will send photos to my customer. After that I head home and upload more pictures.
HK: The previous night I will ensure all equipment and computer data files are in order. On the day I will arrive early to do some test shots and get my exposure settings right. During the game I will regularly download photos, select 3 or 4 photos, process them and send them to Rugby15 for publishing.
What is the most exciting thing about capturing our sporting heroes on camera?
GS: The whole vibe that goes along with it. Thousands of supporters cheering on their heroes and also the adrenaline of meeting the deadlines of customers.
HK: It is great to share the field with some of the biggest rugby stars. It can only be described as a dream coming true.
What is your most memorable sporting event to date?
GS: The 2010 Soccer World Cup. I had the privilege of covering 15 games for a French customer.
HK: The British & Irish Lions tour because it only comes around every 12 years.
Which part of the game provides the best action shots?
GS: The first few moments just after half-time when both teams are trying to stamp down their authority.
HK: Tackles and when tries are scored. Capturing the emotions that goes along with those two moments provide great shots.
What is your favourite/best stadium to shoot at?
GS: Soccer City. It is definitely one of the best stadiums in the world. The atmosphere is unbelievable when filled to capacity.
HK: I love Loftus Versfeld. The lights and the atmosphere blows your mind away.
Do you agree that a picture is worth a thousand words?
GS: Of course yes.
HK: Oh yes. Indeed.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring sports photographers?
GS: Just keep going. You only start learning your camera after 50’000+ photos.
HK: Don’t ever get discouraged. Shoot as many games as possible, even if it is school events. Every shot makes you wiser.
It’s not only Rugby15 that can benefit from the passion and hard work that Gerhard and Hilton puts into their images.
Fans and the public are encouraged to contact Gerhard and Hilton to get some of the exceptional action photos, whether you want to frame it as a gift or hang it in your entertainment area or bar. Gerhard and Hilton will gladly assist.
Here are some of the great shots from Gerhard and Hilton: