THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

Will Carling outpaces the Welsh defence at Cardiff Arms Park, 6th February 1993, by Pete Jenkins for the Sunday Telegraph

Alan Sparrow introduces this month’s image

In normal times we might all have been sitting back and analysing the end of the Guinness Six Nations rugby tournament. Another season for armchair coaches debating the merits of one fly-half to another.

The Rugby Football Union has suspended all rugby and estimates are that they may face a loss of income around £50 million. The loss to football will run to billions when calculations are made for the loss of TV money to top clubs and gate money at lower league clubs, and if you consider the estimated cost of the now delayed Olympics was £9bn the figures are truly eye watering.

The ravages of coronavirus continue to plague our country, and our thoughts are with those who lose loved ones in these difficult times. Industry is closing down around us and many people find their livelihoods on hold for what could be three months or longer. 

So spare a thought for the freelance photographers who are sitting at home unable to earn an income, and among those who make their living in this way is sports photography Pete Jenkins.

Jenkins has been a sports photographer since the late 1970s and joined the Sunday Telegraph sports photography team in 1983, as the rugby union specialist. A rugby union enthusiast from an early age, Pete started working professionally while still at school, supplying rugby magazines and local newspapers from the age of 16.

Pete estimates that he has attended nearly 3,000 games of rugby during his shooting career, and reckons that he would on average take four rolls of film (before digital became the norm), so that works out at about 400,000 pictures.

I asked Pete how I could become a top sports photographer. “Taking good photographs, better than anybody else, is a given - being a good photographer is merely the first rung on the ladder. Being able to accurately caption every picture you give a client is imperative. I spent a huge amount of time researching every game I was attending, finding out who was doing what, who was coming back from injury, who was getting the eye of the national selectors. I learned to recognise every player of the top teams. You must learn to anticipate the game, know where the players are going to take the ball even before they know themselves.

“Sports photography has never been more competitive. so if you’re going to do this you need to be prepared to work very hard. I did it – so can you

Despite his favourite subject being rugby, and with a stack of rugby pictures published, the picture that has made him the most money was of a tennis player – an image of Steffi Graf which was used in an advertising campaign for a national bank.

But seen here is one of his favourite pictures, showing Will Carling outpacing the Welsh defence at Cardiff Arms Park on 6 February 1993. Wales won the game 10 points to 9.

This picture and other work by Pete Jenkins are available from Fleet Street's Finest at  https://fleetstreetsfinest.com/product/will-carling-by-pete-jenkins/?v=79cba1185463.

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