No matter what kind of VIP seats you have, you’ll never get as up close to all the action on the sports field like Pal Pillai does, with his lens. He’s the face behind the camera that shoots all the action in precise motion. If there’s anyone other than the sportsman, most coveted in the arena, it’s this guy and his camera.
Whether it’s cricket, football, field hockey, tennis, table tennis, synchronised swimming, water skiing, or archery, you name the sport, he’s shot it. Pal proudly gushes about turning his childhood hobby as his profession today. He’s come a long way from starting his career as a photojournalist with the Times of India, then moving on to other publication like Mumbai Mirror and then AFP (Agence France Presse). After a great start in the professional world, he took a chance on himself in 2010 and ventured out as an Independent Sports Photographer.
There was no looking back for him then, he went on to contribute to different Sports agencies across the globe and two years back co-founded Focus Sports (Sports Photo Agency) with one of his friends, Aliasgar.
Speaking about his passion for sports photography he says, “The unpredictability of a photo is what appeals to me the most. You can plan a photo in sports photography – for example where you are going to stand, what you are going to do and still you might not get the picture that you have thought of. The magic happens on its own and it’s pure patience and concentration.”
Continuing our conversation with this passionate photographer, we asked him a few questions about his work and here’s what he had to say.
Tell us about your favourite on-the-field shot.
Sports photography is filled with action, it’s all about the moment and the timing, it requires high concentration.
But at the same time, for me, it’s also about studying the personality of an athlete, taking time out to study certain characteristics of that person and trying and capture that in a photo while still being in a sports environment.
This picture of Indian cricketer Suresh Raina running on the field during a rain-hit match is one of my favourites. Raina has a jovial personality, he always has this smile on his face all the way through, even during a tense situation in a match. He keeps running around motivating the team. I was able to capture this personality of his. And I take great pride in saying that these kinds of pictures don’t happen on a daily basis.
What equipment did you use to take this photograph?
This was shot for Getty Images, with a Nikon D300s camera and a Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 lens. I love my Nikon gear, it’s very user friendly and has never let me down.
One piece of equipment you cannot work without?
My Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens.
One piece of equipment you want to buy right now?
A Nikon D5, it’s the best in the business.
Share 1 tip for those just starting out in this profession.
Dedication and hard work is the base for anything that you want to achieve in life, the same applies for photography as well. You should practice a lot and try and fine tune the art on a daily basis.
One should plan a photo before releasing the shutter button, unfortunately with modern technology a lot of them just shoot without thinking and planning – this should be avoided.
To get that perfect sports photograph, you can browse through the photography equipment below.
Cover image by Pal Pillai; image via Pal Pillai for Getty Images