When I started working as a sports photographer it soon became obvious that an element of luck plays a major role in getting those ‘wow’ images.
More often than not, there is an element of being in the right place at the right time but luck will only get you so far.
You then have to have the skills to capture that moment, or that shot, when it presents itself.
And that is why I have chosen this picture as my favourite image.
I first came across gymnastics in a professional sense on one of my first away trips with the Youth Olympics in Hungary. There was a girl from Cork competing and while it was enjoyable to shoot, I just couldn’t nail the picture that I wanted to get.
So there was an itch there that I needed to scratch.
Fast forward a few years and I was again covering the Youth Olympics, this time in Argentina. I nipped into the gymnastics arena to have a look around and get a feel for the place so that I’d know the lay of the land if an opportunity presented itself.
I spotted this small black backdrop section which was devoid of any signs and knew that there was potential for a great shot provided my positioning was right.
So a few days later, I was heading to cover a swimming event but had about 10 or 15 minutes to kill so I decided to pop back into the gymnastics arena and take my chances.
The Getty (worldwide agency) photographers that were there had opted to shoot from higher up so that they would get the background of the ‘clean’ floor but I was still convinced that there was a chance with that black backdrop which I had spotted on my first trip.
So I did a quick walk around and then set up in one spot with the backdrop that I wanted.
I just started shooting and the picture above was the third frame in the sequence.
It just fell perfectly, with the setting, the light, the pose, the background.
The fact that you can’t see here head is critical. That is what makes it work.
You can only capture what you are given... but you have to be in the right position for it.
A foot to the left or right here and it just would not have been as striking.
I saw the picture in my head beforehand. You visualise it and then you try to achieve that.
No matter what event you go, you are always thinking about the picture you want to get the job then is to achieve that. And this is one of the times when everything fell into place.