In my opinion shooting wrestling is a little bit zen, because, unlike a regular assignment, I can’t control many of the variables. In wrestling, unlike, say, football, I can’t move along the field of play, and just have to watch for what happens in front of me. Today I shot district wrestling, and, sitting on one side of the mat, waited and watched, trying for a frame where both wrestler’s faces were facing me. I couldn’t zip around the mat as they turned, using my position to change the frame, I just had to put the frame up and wait for the composition and the moment to come.
The flip side of this knowing that I have little control over how the wrestler’s bodies move in relation to my position, is that unlike an assignment where I can go up to people and ask their names, sometimes figuring out the information I need can be challenging. Today I got a list of wrestlers who were likely to do well in their divisions from sports writer Scott Spruill, which was very helpful. He also gave me a list of brackets. The challenging part, for me, was getting to Ellenburg high school and having to figure where the tournament was in terms of timing — were the semi-finals that I was shooting started yet? — and the lay of the land. With four mats, and no numbers on the mats and no numbers of the matches on the scoreboards– which would have corresponded to the numbers on the brackets — it took a few minutes of just staring around, looking at scoreboards, waiting for the announcer to say a name I recognized before I could find my place.
The attention to notes, keeping track of what order I shot the matches in, who was wrestling, what colors they were wearing and who won each match, as well as keeping an ear open to listen to where my next match would be required attention and precision outside of the frame, the opposite of the go-with-the-flow of shooting the actual match.