Driving to Switzerland for BeachEuro2016
Sometimes you get the request (this time I was late to get on the ball) for a job on a short notice, so with flight prices through the roof, and weeks car parking at the airport going well into three figures. Some photographers would give up as there would be no profit, others would ask the client for four times as much as their normal rate - and some, just find the economical way to make a profit and keep prices normal for clients.
This is what happened to me, as I noticed less than two weeks before a tournament - that it was happening (yes, my fault and I should be better!). Few quick enquiries and clients were happy that someone was offering them images ... and so it was planning time.
Quick search came out with flights/car parking/rental car/hotel/etc - came up to close to £1500. But hey! the tournament is only in Switzerland, and I live in the UK - so what about driving?? I've driven further away for jobs....
So, Petrol/Road Tolls/EuroTunnel/Hotel ... and all of a sudden I was looking at the costs being near £550. This was much easier expense to cover with the payments from my clients - and I still would end up making a decent profit from the job. Although eating out in Switzerland isn't the cheapest for a week!
Departure from home, HR8 postcode, afternoon on Sunday - non-stop driving to Folkestone EuroTunnel .. quick bite of Moroccan Meatballs and into the train (delayed by an hour). Out of the train around midnight in Calais - non-stop for about 500km, with fresh air breaks as I had to jump out of the car to pay for the road tolls. Luckily this was night time and roads were empty... I do LOVE driving on the French roads, driving is so much quieter than the British rumbling roads.
Around 4.20am stopping at a service station (no two hour limits for parking here!) - plenty of other travellers taking a nap in their cars. So pull on the duvet and two hours of sleep. Good as new ... drive through some small French villages to the Swiss boarder. Boarder guards looking at me funnily with my bike packed into the car and explaining that I am off to Biel for Beach Volleyball. But in the end this stretched to a ten minute chat ... very quiet crossing this one, so I was the only one there.
Off the motorway in Switzerland and through some mountain roads... LOVELY SCENERY!!... and down to Biel. Two hours before check-in time to the Hotel. So taking advantage of this one and go for a little cycling around the lake. What a way to end the journey/start the day.
Is driving 700 miles a great way to go to every job?? Probably not, but for me - it beats the stress and hassle of flying. No worrying about the weight limits, connecting flights, what kind of rental car I get... Maybe I should move somewhere in southern Germany... would be pretty easy driving to most countries in Europe :-)
I do understand that as photographers we probably should always pass our expenses (whatever they may be) to our clients - but with the ever tightening budgets everywhere. I do not mind looking for ways to keep my clients happy.. and keep making a profit myself.
Now - looking forward to GREAT five days of covering BeachEuro2016 (European Championships in Beach Volleyball) here in Biel - and after today's first photo-session in the training... it's all looking good at the moment!!
Let the games begin!!
p.s Car is now parked at the garage of the hotel, while in Biel - I will move with the bicycle. Great way for an unfit photographer to try to keep himself in some sort of shape.
Erik Murphy is someone whom I've followed for the past years - and was lucky enough to catch-up with him in Istanbul after a EuroCup game.
It was couple of years ago when I first heard the surname Murphy, in association with Finnish basketball. While covering the FIBA EuroBasket U20's B-division in Sofia, Bulgaria.. Alex Murphy was taking his first steps with the Finnish 'Susijengi'. It was after this that I looked up more about the Murphy's and noticed his older brother Erik .. playing for Florida Gators at the time.
I must admit that I am not a great follower or even fan of NCAA or NBA basketball - so do forgive me my ignorance on this subject. But when Erik came to play with the Susijengi in 2014 - even if he probably wasn't quite suited for European style of game to start with, I definitely liked what I saw through the viewfinder (as a photographer, that's how I see my games). As the summer went on, and Finland enjoyed their first outing in World Cup.. and after many chats with Erik over the summer. I was just hoping for him to sign for an European team for the domestic season - so there would be a chance to see him play. (flights across the pond aren't cheap - so unfortunately his D-league season passed me by).
Summer 2015 once again saw Erik play with the 'Wolves' - always ready to have a work and wearing his blue 'Gators' baseball cap.. this summer Erik was leaner and fitter than in 2014 and it showed in the way he contributed to the team on the court.
So when he signed for Besiktas in Istanbul during the summer (coached at the time by Finnish National team Head Coach Henrik Dettmann) - I knew I had to get to visit him in Istanbul. Early November saw my visit to Istanbul - for a EuroCup game vs Szolnok. After the practise on day 1 of my visit, you guessed it - Erik walked out of the training with his Gators cap on. Quick exchange of hellos, before Erik jumped into his car and 'confidently' drove into the rush-hour traffic in Istanbul.
Following day was the game day, Erik played the first 14 minutes of the game (no-sub) - gave me a nice dunk to capture.. and in the end was second top scorer for his team. After the game - caught up with him, to talk about playing abroad for the first year, what he thinks of Istanbul/Turkey.. as well as Finland's chances of hosting a group at the EuroBasket2017.
Finnish basketball will enjoy Erik's game for many years to come - and don't be surprised if one year you'll see Finland's starting five being read out and you see three Murphy's on the score sheet!
Next time Erik - it'll be Maksalaatikkoa and Lättyjä for dinner :-)
When all else fails, follow the locals!
Another long work day abroad, just to get your mind at ease that I am not sitting by the pool and enjoying a Turkish holiday ;-)
Up early in the morning, catching up on invoicing and other correspondence - then cross Istanbul in the Metro (two lines) to catch-up with Finnish Men's National team Head Coach Henrik Dettmann, first meeting with Turkish security then at the gate of the apartment complex. After four phone calls, I was taken on a golf buggy down through the garage and up on the lift.... they do make things complicated sometimes.
Quick interview and photo-session with the coach, as well as catching-up on stuff... even when this is mostly work, it is always nice to have a more relaxed chat with people on the road.
Then back across town on the Metro (just missed rush-hour!) - lunch.. shower and off to the Sinan Erdem Spor Salonu for the evenings EuroCup game.
Aah, the entry wasn't easy. Instructions were to use a door on the RIGHT hand side of the Arena.. slight language barrier with security .. whom all sent me in different direction. After trying all doors with anyone guarding them, and always been sent to one direction or next.. I did what I should have done to start with. Stand outside the dark doors of Media Entry and wait for local press... they always know who to call and contact. So after five minutes, I was following three journalist and a door was opened to them and I just followed them in SUCCESS!!
Off to the press seats, get wi-fi code, accreditation badge, chat with the locals - high five the players I know.. the usual prep to a game.
Cover the game, concentrate on Murphy - nice dunk inside the first five minutes, I knew that was the picture! Although if Murphy would have made the flying dunk to start 3rd Q with.. that would have been even better. Post game video interviews (one below - two more to follow in the next two days). Great game by Erik - on the court from start and one of the key players for Besiktas tonight.
Arena was a bit like when I visited Sasu Salin in Ljubljana for some EuroCup games - tough to fill a 14000 Arena for a regular season game. But the Besiktas fans we GREAT!! making noise well before tip-off, and when DJ tried to play music.. they whistled so he would turn it down and the fans could keep singing ... some REALLY great fan culture!! Thumbs up from this traveling photographer!
Quick drive to get something to eat with players - off to the hotel, edit material.. and after few hours of sleep - Havalimani Ataturk and flying back to Birmingham.
Return to old haunts in Istanbul!
As a photographer you get used to things not always going smoothly, or as you'd expected them to. So it came as no surprise today that I ended up spending two hours outside the Sinan Erdem Sport Salonu in Istanbul, instead of inside it. But the weather was nice, and there was a little exercise park across the road - so got my own fix of practise done (no hoops though!).
At the end of training, managed to catch up quickly with Erik Murphy and Lassi Tuovi - Murphy headed quickly to the evening traffic in Istanbul - and Tuovi and I went inside the Arena for a quick interview on video.
It was a strange feeling, last time I left this building was after the Final whistle of the FIBA2010 World Championships - after photographing the tournament in Turkey. On this trip I am staying in the same hotel, walking the same route to the venue... it is a trip down the memory lane.
Tomorrow should hopefully be a busier day, with a surprise interview to be done in the morning - and then Besiktas EuroCup basketball in the evening, capturing 'Susi-Erkki' (Erik Murphy) playing for the Turkish team. But - there is still the wait to hear from the Media Person in regards to the accreditation for the evenings game tomorrow.......
For now - interview with Lassi Tuovi to start the Istanbul work part of the trip.
Let's see if one can return to some Blog posting of the usual non-sense....
And what better place to start than sitting in the same hotel where I stayed during the FIBA World Championships 2010 in Istanbul.... It's a return to Blogging and back to one of the first big tournaments I covered (guess that's up for debate).
It was your usual travel day - nice drive through the fog back in England to the airport, then it was time to 'Fly like Kobe' .. with the Turkish Airlines. Come on, one covers hoops week-in week-out, I had to check this airline out ;-)
With long legs and economy class seating.. I wasn't feeling like bouncing the ball to the fellow passengers, and they didn't look like they were up for it. In flight meal... less said the better (would be nice to have it hot??). No Minions on the entertainment set.. even if it was advertised on the magazine. The little things that disappoint a frequent traveller.
Flight was smooth, so all safely and in one piece in Istanbul Airport - the usual taxing of 15 minutes to the bus, and then 5 minutes to the terminal on the bus. Luckily the airport made us from Britain feel very welcome, with all the little potholes on the tarmac.. it was just like driving a car back home.
Passport control was nice and quick - and as a Finn, no need to get a Visa to get to Turkey!!!
Airport Hotel for the three night stay, but no shuttle bus after 22.30 in the evening (and my arrival was at 23.30 due to Turkey holding on to Summer Time for a week longer... due to the General Elections). So a very disappointed Taxi driver .. who had waited for three hours, and then got a ride for five minutes to the closest hotel. I don't understand much Turkish, but he wasn't best pleased... after my ride he was back at the end of 800 Taxi's waiting at the airport.
Quick room service pasta once in, which at least was warm.. if rather tasteless. Now time to chill for few hours.. hopefully tomorrow photographing the Besiktas training session ahead of Wednesdays game.
Good night from Istanbul .. hopefully tomorrow we'll spice the Blog with some pictures!