The Story Behind The Shoot
One thing you’ll learn very quickly about Sin City is there’s always something going on in Pattaya, you just have to pick your spots and make the shots. Whereas unlike pool if you miss your shot it may be your last and you could be sitting all night in regret twiddling your thumbs.
Our new life in Thailand is coming along and it hasn’t been without its hurdles there have been many, some have been tough and grueling but we didn’t expect it to be a walk in the park either. So far life is great, just as it was when we first use to holiday here in 2007. From our first Pad thai Jamie and I always knew this was the place we wanted to make home.
If you want to find out more about our story and how we got here, we cover it all on our Vlog and Blog – The RAW Files.
As things are coming together we’re nearly back to the photographers lifestyle we created for ourselves in Vancouver the only difference being we’re full-time here in Thailand. We’ve been keeping our eyes open and ears to the ground of what’s going on in this city; you have to because in a blink you’ll miss it.
As the saying goes, ‘it’s a small world”, social media has helped connect us to friends of friends and one such connection is a fella who’s made the same move to Thailand allowing us to breaking the ice easily and comfortably.
Max Slade owner of Endless Lounge whom we came to know through a fb friend has been kind enough to connect and meet us a few times with expressed interest in our work. He was organizing a very important billiards event with Jimmy ‘the Whirlwind’ White and wanted to know if we’d be keen on photographing the night. Of Course we were.
For those who need to know, Jimmy White is an absolute snooker legend from the 80’s and early 90’s, a 6 time World Championship finalist, Ameteur Champion, Seniors Champion and Doubles Champion among his many Victories. But his greatest title of all, he is know as the ‘People’s Champion’ and is now seen throughout the circuit by invitationals and special events like Endless was hosting to meet and play a few frames with the man himself.
For us no matter if it’s an event, private party or function we prefer to shoot in a style that is different from normally clean and exposed PR photos. We want to create mood and capture emotion, to accomplish this we search for the right amount light and work with the shadows mixing the two elements to reveal a story of drama and anticipation. Now part of that may have sounded like a few superhero slogans but a photo assignment like this had all those qualities in the setting we were in. Think of smoky, low light, dark and over and underexposed light, it’s the ideal setting for a pool hall and sports bar and for patrons of such places they wouldn’t have it any other way.
The event was promoted as a one night affair to meet Jimmy White buy purchasing limited tables and play a few frames with the Whirlwind himself: also a raffle with prizes, signed cues, pics etc. Needless to say Endless was a full house and the energy was great. Every shot, missed shot, break game and move Jimmy made had the audience on their feet all night. It was a success.
To photograph in a packed house like this a photographer must take care not to disturb or disrupt the flow of good energy. Feeling the need to get shots may require moments of obstructing paid views of patrons but it has to be done without interference. Ninja stealth technique and the art of the deal moves need to be applied. If done properly a photographer will capture all he needs to cover the gig.
Remember Katherine Zeta Jones in the movie Entrapment with Sean Connery? That’s what it was like to work this room maneuvering in out of people, around poles, under tables and chairs then making it to the table where all the action took place. A photographer must have a tolerance for pain too squat and stretch when it comes to nabbing such tight shots; moves of a Ninja.
We had access to a table side seat to see the action up close. To create the shots we wanted we had to observe and analyse the room, the lights, the table and positions of the players then we started composing, focusing and finding the field of view we had to work with. We knew this going in because we researched and scouted Endless before the event. The only difference on this night was with the amount of people crammed inside causing shadows to be darker and what good directional light there was, was often blocked.
We wanted a high f-stop for certain scenes to get as much in focus as possible as these would help market Endless and the event. Trying to get that high f-stop is not easy in dark environments and any movement except from Jimmy himself would not be sharp or blurred. These shots had to be anticipated before hand where Jimmy would come set himself behind the cue ball and eye up his shot on the table for a moment of stillness, this is was our frame to snap and we did the same to him as our subject. The reason sharp focus is difficult is because you don’t want your shutter below 1/60th when handheld is your only option and getting your ISO as qualitatively as high as possible without the introduction of noise and image loss.
Being up that close we got to see Jimmy and skills like no other it was truly amazing. I remember watching him and the likes of Stephen Hendry on CFMT back in my youth on Sunday mornings in my old home of Stoney Creek in Ontario, Canada and now here we are table side shooting this legend.
For a better appreciation of Jimmy’s talents watch the video.
Jimmy was well dressed a cool cat as he casually and calmly made his moves around the table and played to the room. He never noticed me at first and that means I did my job but as it was a fun non-competitive event I think he understood the compositions we wanted and I believe was kind enough to allow us the room to work. For the up close shots I kept a respectable distance but the shutter was placed on silent mode.
The shots turned out really well and styled individually to meet the requirements of promotion and emotion. We really like what we came away with.
We must say these images couldn’t have been shot without the people who attended and Jimmy himself who allowed us to get into position for captures. Thanks to Max and all the staff at Endless for helping us maneuver around the room and assisting when needed. Endless is a great lounge and place to shoot some stick they have one of if not the best tables in the city. Pool in Pattaya has always been part of the culture, it’s finding serious gamers and a growing community where these days players want quality places to meet and play.