I also write for the Coventry Blaze Ice Hockey team monthly magazine. I’ve been given permission to post my (pre-edited) articles
Scott Wiggins is entering his second season of standing between the benches taking photos of the game, but like any voluntary role, the time he puts in is far more than the two and half hours of match time.
Scott has been photographing hockey since 2006. He started off just photographing for himself and a season later he started making montages for the club and it’s gone from there. He’s been a Blaze fan since the BNL days.
He explained, “Standing at the benches gives you a very different viewpoint from photographing through the glass. It also gives me an insight into the team. I treat it as a job though, and you wouldn’t talk about the things that you hear outside of work. I’ve heard some fantastic chirps between the players though, that makes you just crack up laughing.”
Like anyone involved with the team, there’s a lot to do before you even reach the rink. “I am preparing the day before,” he said, “making sure batteries are charged and lenses are clean and I’ve got back-ups. I’ve always got two cameras in case one has an accident. I’ve already had to have a lens repaired after it got hit by the puck but because I had a spare I could keep shooting.”
He continued, “Early in the season I’ll photograph warm up to build a bank of images, otherwise, at home I don’t. At an away game, I’ll always photograph warm up to work out how to set up the camera; Nottingham is really bright, while some of the other rinks are a bit dimmer. Sheffield has a lot of black back out cloth so that just sucks the light out of the arena. You have to get used to where to stand for what shots and what kit you need.”
“The key thing when taking photographs is to look for ‘peak action’ shots – a goal, a big hit, a celebration or a fight. I also look to try and get some of the emotion of the game as well and some decent portraits of the players for use in art work.”
Does he miss watching the game? Scott laughs. “It’s been that long that I’m used to watching the game through the viewfinder.” It seems that being near the players on the bench makes up for that. “Cale Tanaka was pulling funny faces when he realised I was trying to take a photograph of him once. One of the funniest moments was when Ryan Ginand had cut his finger and given himself a couple of war paint stripes on his cheeks before returning to the play. That was a good shot!”
After a match there are usually some presentation photos or something with a sponsor. Then things get challenging. Scott explains “I have a pretty firm deadline of 10pm with the papers. To get photographs in the Coventry Telegraph I have to sort them out, upload them and get the photos to them. The earlier you get the photos in the more chance you have of getting a bigger picture and that means more impact for the club. I’m quite often downloading photos from my camera to the laptop during period breaks so that I can start to sort them out quickly. Last season with the NIHL Blaze playing straight after the senior team, and photographing both teams caused me a few logistical challenges!”
Scott doesn’t just take photos on match nights, as Team Photographer he gets called upon for other events during the season too. “It usually ends up costing me a couple of days holiday a year – one at the start of the season where I take team photos and head shots for the autograph cards. That’s followed a little later on in the year for the calendar, which I know most female supporters like. It’s not my cup of tea, but I just approach it as another shoot and do the best job I can. The funniest moment though was when I was shooting the calendar a couple of years ago. Domish told me that he was going to be in a certain position and that I should take the shot when he reached the hash marks on the ice. So I set up all the lighting to take the photo. He disappeared and then came flying out of the changing room wearing his skates, his stick, a Detroit Red Wings hat and his jock strap – that I was it! I had to take the photo twice as I was too busy laughing.”
Of course, all photographers are proud of their work, and when pressed, Scott is no different. “The ones I liked the most last season were the one of James Griffin checking a Cardiff Devils player against the boards and a really good shot of Drew Fata of Sheffield Steelers who was skating along with one leg straight out behind him and the puck on the end of the stick. The stick was flexed ready to fire a shot in – I was pleased with how that one looked.”