Sometimes amusing, often fascinating

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Simona Halep
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Denisa ALLERTOVA – Tessah ANDRIANJAFITRIMO – Victoria AZARENKA – Timea BABOS – Irina Maria BARA – Annika BECK – Belinda BENCIC – Kiki BERTENS – Elyne BOEYKENS – Eugenie BOUCHARD – Jennifer BRADY – Madison BRENGLE – Lou BROULEAU – Cagla BUYUKAKCAY – Jana CEPELOVA – Petra CETKOVSKA – Louisa CHIRICO – Dominika CIBULKOVA – Sorana CIRSTEA – Alizé CORNET – Carolin DANIELS – Lauren DAVIS – Indie DE VROOME – Steffi DISTELMANS – Oceane DODIN – Misaki DOI – Lourdes DOMINGUEZ LINO – Vera DUSHEVINA – Diana ENACHE – Sara ERRANI – Julieta Lara ESTABLE – Dia EVTIMOVA – Kirsten FLIPKENS – Anna Lena FRIEDSAM – Andrea GAMIZ – Caroline GARCIA – Daria GAVRILOVA – Myrtille GEORGES – Katharina GERLACH – Nicola GEUER – Nicole GIBBS – Camila GIORGI – Claudia GIOVINE – Julia GOERGES – Viktorija GOLUBIC – Barbara HAAS – Beatriz HADDAD MAIA – Simona HALEP – Daniela HANTUCHOVA – Vivian HEISEN – Polona HERCOG – Amandine HESSE – Martina HINGIS – Andrea HLAVACKOVA – Katharina HOBGARSKI – Richel HOGENKAMP – Michaela HONCOVA – Lucie HRADECKA – Olga IANCHUK – Ana IVANOVIC – Dalila JAKUPOVIC – Jelena JANKOVIC – Oksana KALASHNIKOVA – Kaia KANEPI – Paula KANIA – Daria KASATKINA – Lesley KERKHOVE – Madison KEYS – Deniz KHAZANIUK – Romy KOELZER – Pia KONIG – Johanna KONTA – Anett KONTAVEIT – Tamara KORPATSCH – Petra KREJSOVA – Swetlana KUZNETSOVA – Petra KVITOVA – Johanna LARSSON – Elixane LECHEMIA – Katharina LEHNERT – Varvara LEPCHENKO – Alizé LIM – Magda LINETTE – Jamie LOEB – Antonia LOTTNER – Mirjana LUCIC BARONI – Tena LUKAS – Ekatarina MAKAROVA – Lidziya MAROZAVA – Alice MATTEUCCI – Elise MERTENS – Mandy MINELLA – Sania MIRZA – Tayisiya and Yana MORDERGER – Karolina MUCHOVA – Garbiñe MUGURUZA – Asia MUHAMMAD – Monica NICULESCU – Raluca OLARU – Naomi OSAKA – Jelena OSTAPENKO – Gabriela PANTUCKOVA – Jasmine PAOLINI – Chloe PAQUET – Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA – Guadalupe PEREZ ROJAS – Conny PERRIN – Andrea PETKOVIC – Jessica PIERI – Dinah PFITZENMAIER – Tsvetana PIRONKOVA – Katarzyna PITER – Karolina and Kristyna PLISKOVA – Anastasia PRIBYLOVA – Tereza PROCHAZKOVA – Monica PUIG – Yulia PUTINTSEVA – Agnieska and Urzula RADWANSKA – Ankita RAINA – Virginie RAZZANO – Alison RISKE – Laura ROBSON – Evgeniya RODINA – Camilla ROSATELLO – Lena RUEFFER – Arantxa RUS – Elena Gabriela RUSE – Amra SADIKOVIC – Olga SAEZ LARRA – Maria SAKKARI – Laura SCHAEDER – Barbara SCHETT – Francesca SCHIAVONE – Anna Karolina SCHMIEDLOVA – Patty SCHNYDER – Demi SCHUURS – Maria SHARAPOVA – Isabella SHINIKOVA – Yaroslava SHVEDOVA – Laura SIEGEMUND – Katerina SINIAKOVA – Tereza SMITKOVA – Sara SORRIBES TORMO – Ipek SOYLU – Sloane STEPHENS – Melanie STOKKE – Samatha STOSUR – Barbora STRYCOVA – Carla SUAREZ NAVARRO – Jil Belen TEICHMANN – Patricia Maria TIG – Martina TREVISAN – Alison VAN UYTVANCK – CoCo VANDEWEGHE – Elena VESNINA – Sachia VICKERY – Natalia VIKHLYANTSEVA – Roberta VINCI – Stefanie VOEGELE – Erika VOGELSANG – Stefanie VOGT – Kathinka VON DEICHMANN – Renata VORACOVA – Ana VRLJIC – Heather WATSON – Ashley WEINHOLD – Caitlin WHORISKEY – Yanina WICKMAYER – Carina WITTHOEFT – Caroline WOZNIACKI – Anna ZAJA – Vendula ZOVINCOVA ETC. ETC. ETC.


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Last update: 24/11/17
Dear Visitor, many words, which you can skip by going directly to the images section. I’m not in love with my own importance (which doesn’t exist), but with the experience of the last two years I reckon it to be worthwhile to come up with a little transparency here as far as my goals and motives are concerned. So, please forgive me for my verbosity.

As the name implies, the intention here is in documenting the beauty, not only of the players and the sport itself, but of the whole ambience, the surroundings, all those small situations which make the WTA, the ITF etc. and their events always interesting, sometimes amusing and often fascinating.

WHERE DO THINGS COME FROM?

Where do things come from? Ideas. Talents. Interests. I never knew the answer to this question. I didn’t know it, when I started to think. To feel. I didn’t know it, when jazz came to me at the age of twelve.

Same with this here. When did my love for tennis start? What I remember, is, that the basics of that old sport were explained to me by a fellow bass player decades ago and that I as reluctantly as fascinated stayed with him after rehearsals to watch parts of some Boris Becker or Steffi Graf matches. But I never would have called myself a tennis fan in those times.

…was like drinking a very old VSOP cognac out of a luxuriantly adorned medieval glass.

It was in the first third of the Nadal and Federer era that I was drawn into that topic more and more. With the internet leaving its childhood behind and streaming technologies becoming attractive, I finally subscribed to services like TennisTV or Eurosport.

I learned the tennis rules and increasingly appreciated them. To see good players perform inside the frame of these sophisticated and a bit queer guidelines and restrictions to me was like drinking a very old VSOP cognac out of a luxuriantly adorned medieval glass. And after a while it became totally normal to me. As if I never had been anything else but a premium tennis alcoholic.

Guardian angels. Mojos.

From the start I was interested in constellations as well, mostly those of kin. Sharapova with her father, Dementieva or Jankovic with their mothers. The latter with her brother afterwards. Guardian angels. Mojos. Henin with her coach, whose eye-contact she was searching between each and every rally. All those rituals and whims. The differences of temperament and character. How the momentum of a match could turn completely within a second just due to a player’s mood change.

Stuttgart ’16

My first live event was Stuttgart ’13. Never before I had gone to soccer matches or other sporting events and so it was quite strange to me to be in that beehive for the first time. And thrilling. The crowd, the nearness of the players on the practice courts.

The crowd, the nearness of the players on the practice courts.

Very rarely and only by accident I found myself asking for autographs though. Guess it was the advantage of coming to it at rather old age. Too many things I had experienced in my rollercoaster life to get involved with these things more than marginally.

Be it as it may, I had a ball that week in 2013 and so the following year I was in Bad Cannstadt again. Sat in the crowd at the final weekend in Roland Garros. Went to Luxemburg then for the first time in autumn. Started to make cellphone pics. And to be discontent with them. Having become an ambitious photographer years before I had invested some inherited money in semi-professional equipment. Took artsy pics of buds in contre-jour and so on.

Luxemburg 2015 was the first tennis event I covered with my camera. Learned from mistakes. Went to Stuttgart 2016. Strasbourg. Rosmalen. Eastbourne.

Meanwhile I had talked to some colleagues who steered my attention to the ITF circus. Very nice it was to experience the familiarity of those cozier events. Didn’t know many player’s names, but seeing them again and again that became better after a while. Even now I have photos of players whose names I cannot remember or find in the internet. It’s nice how many talents are striving for excellence out there.

It’s nice how many talents are striving for excellence out there.

Even if the motor for that diligence may be at least in parts a financial one, I never was interested in that. I am after those moments, when the player is forgetting about everything, the score, the prize money, the ranking points, the public, the photographers, even him-/herself. Those golden seconds, where there is the ball and nothing else. For me tennis is an art form. A cultural achievement. A temple-dance at the feet of the gods of presence. As I said, I’m no sports person. My fascination is based on my engagement in eastern philosophies and their esteem of NOW! If I am lucky I’ll manage to find the right words to express that fascination in the upcoming, which would be a good thing since probably not many tennis people share this slightly esoteric point of view.


THE BALL IS NOW.

Often I had the feeling, that one didn’t understand my motives. In many cases I felt reduced to a dirty old man with a naughty tele-lens. To be honest, that was the most exhausting part of the work. Browsing through material which is waste 70 – 80% due to albeit comprehensible distrust or erroneous concession. I don’t realize things like that behind my camera. While shooting I am too concentrated on moments, energies and parameters. Shy, as I am, otherwise there would have been no result to present now.

As a matter of fact I never was offended or annoyed. Of course it is nicer to be respected by everybody. But what shall people do? They don’t know me. They don’t know anything about my preliminary decision to strictly refrain from each and every personal activities inside this project. Many of them, as decent persons as they obviously are, might not feel a very close connection with photography and arts. They don’t understand, that the eagerness for aesthetic results doesn’t have anything to do with the eagerness for personal advantage-seeking. There are a lot of maybe a bit dubious hobby-togs out there at the courts, many of them male and my age. And the pros, a bit tired sometimes, are taking their seasoned motor-shots and rush to the next job instead of sitting at the courts all day long taking pic by pic, as I do. By the way I strongly believe not to be the only one to be quite astonished now and then, what kind of pics both fractions obviously consider appropriate for being published in the internet sometimes. Well, given all that, and to make a long speech short, I have to thank everybody who suspected me of having greasy or quirky intentions, for their tolerance. As being tolerant doesn’t mean to understand but to suffer the alien.

Tolerance doesn’t mean understanding but to suffer the alien.

The remaining 30 – 20% though are pretty much the harvest I had hoped for. One has to be a little bit stubborn sometimes, I guess. And some stunningly shiny results wouldn’t have been possible without these misinterpretations as well. Women can be so beautiful even when scoffing or despising. From the side of the players I felt such a brought bandwidth of impulses, all between suspicion and being flattered. Some plain vanity as well, which of course went to the trash basket bee-line. But even some of those ‘big ego’ photos have to offer such an ambiguity of layers, that I am thankfully keeping them as a treasure. As most of the players are very decent and down-to-earth individuals, I very rarely met that vanity problem, almost never in the upper segment by the way. There is an english saying I always loved. “Those who matter don’t mind. Those who mind, don’t matter.”

“Those who matter don’t mind. Those who mind, don’t matter.”

In the end shooting had become a little bit messy with partners and daddies being (causelessly) jealous and myself having developed a far too deep affection towards a far too young player. And so it seemed to be quite the right thing to stay away from the courts a bit and concentrate on the material instead. Could even be that I sell my equipment again. If my vision comes to life and there will be some publications with my photos, I may return to that path later. Or go another one…

‘Beautiful WTA’

As the name implies, the intention here is in documenting the beauty, not only of the players and the sport itself, but of the whole ambience, the surroundings, all those small situations which make the WTA, the ITF etc. and their events always interesting, sometimes amusing and often fascinating.

Some excessive ambition in tennis as well. Hard competition makes the borders between enthralling verve and mere grim catfight pretty fluent now and then. Some people much smarter than me say, that the most important phases in the personal development of an individual are what they call ‘bottleneck’ situations. Moments in life, where it becomes narrow and uncomfy, which indicates an upcoming growth of character due to some learning process which wouldn’t have been possible without these temporary inner plights. In tennis every ball, that comes your way, is a guru as far, as this phenomenon is concerned.

“Forever is composed of nows.”
― Emily Dickinson

The player’s reward for exposing themselves freely to it is a flood of cathartic moments. If they manage to enjoy that is, instead of being frustrated with single failures which tend to pile up then to Mount Everests with the avalanches of disappointment generously rattling down on you. So much psychology in it, which utterly mesmerizes me without preventing me from worshipping the sporting and aesthetic aspects.

I’ll never will cease being fascinated by those ITF matches without ballkids, where the returning player always has to provide the one on serve with the balls. If nothing else would, this permanent alternation of competition and cooperation finally would make the fabulous sport called tennis unique and veritably special to me.

  • The point here is to celebrate the aspects of flow, abandon, presence, vigilance, strength and shine of beautiful WTA and the human side behind the scenes.

There is much to spot!

Taking single pics without any motor usage I’m always happy with these shots showing the ball at or very close to the racket. In fact nowadays I often focus on the ball much more than on the player. Of course it’s not very polite to say that, but it’s true, and truth is beauty (Keats). If it’s not about ambience, motion or emotions, I like to synchronize with the moment of hitting. That’s, why for me the ball is the star. But of course without all those exquisite, talented and wonderful ‘actresses in the supporting role’ the star would be nothing.

The pro sports photographers have better cameras and lenses. They always shoot with fast motors, which makes sense for them, as they have to deliver optimal material very quickly to their clients or editorial departments. One colleague was friendly enough one day to offer me a swap of lenses and so he worked with mine and I with his much more expensive one for about two hours. Afterwards I told him jestingly, that of course I would have to kill him now in order to keep that fabulous treasure for my own. But then I watched the technically brilliant results on my computer screen and after a while I realized, that to me they were a little boring.

Having to deal with some restrictions as far as the gear is concerned brings out the artist in me. Many of the photos I elect now as good enough for being published in greyscale would appear too grainy in color due to bad indoor light situations. Motor usage would keep me from being as alert and awake as the players themselves, which in fact is the thing which interests me the most in tennis photography. I don’t have to deliver quickly and so I would invest an unattended flush of money rather in travel expenses than in a better camera. Well, one or two premium lenses probably would not kill my creativity. But it’s always rewarding to be content with less.

P.S.: Someone meaning well just reminded me to mention the fact, that I never use any of the camera’s other automations as well but do everything manually instead…
P.S.2:

As I used to live as a pro musician for most of my life here’s one of my songs. It’s named ‘Letting U Go’, which describes the most costly and valuable present one can give to a beloved person.

P.S.3:

Life’s a chain of precious moments, with sometimes a lot of empty space in between… …this photo was taken at one of mine. The good news is: The less you expect, the more you get…
…so let’s watch out for the little things…
 
Sam Stosur
Stuttgart ’17

Favorites Of The Day

Having tested several styles and approaches finally I come to these results, which reflect best the vision which drew me into this project two years ago. So, why not have a look. From now on there will be five greyscale samples from this category, updated on a daily basis…

Just click on the first image and enjoy the slideshow like a movie with a new pic appearing every ten seconds. Or you can stop the slideshow by clicking on the symbol in the upper right corner and navigate individually with the arrow keys. In order to enhance the ‘cinematic’ impression you might want to toggle your browser to its fullscreen mode as well…

Kiki Bertens
Nuremberg ’17
Sorana Cirstea
Nuremberg ’17
Viktorija Golubic
Linz ’16
Koelzer/Rueffer
Versmold ’17
Vivian Heisen
Versmold ’17




389 | 394

 

As for the counter: The tally below adds up with aprox. 23000 visits on my former website, which I started in Nov 2015.

16/7/17 — Had to repair my start page, with the result, that aprox. 7000 visits are not shown here anymore. So, starting from zero again…

23/9/17 — And once again I had to move, cause suddenly I wasn’t able to enter the editing mode any more. WordPress all in all is a good thing, but it can be a nuisance sometimes. So, folks, hello again…

Screenshot from 23/9/17 . 05:39

 

 

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