in 2012, my sister (who is racing her 2nd EA.. Go Team Slummies!!!) and I followed her husband (Go Team Castle Lite!!!) as he raced around the Sunshine Coast. It was one of those spur of the moment things we could do before all our kids came along. But we “tracked” them (more like stumbled upon them) and at night i gracefully slept as they came past us. The year after that, I was asked to head up the photography for, what will be, one of the biggest adventures of my life.. This year, I will be photographing the start line of my 6th Expedition Africa!
Expedition Africa has always been for the athlete, for the teams. No surprise since, well, it’s a race raced by racers. I know right, mind blown! But over the past two years, however, the Kinetic Events team have changed that. Meet, what they are calling, Team Media. A relatively new concept in Adventure Racing is where each team brings a media representative to blog, photograph, tweet, video, etc etc about their team. Essentially, these guys and girls become the eyes and ears for family, friends, sponsors and just interested parties for those back home.
It goes without saying that AR offers very little “spectator value”, but with modern tech and media people on the ground, Kinetic has changed this to a point where they are reaching hundreds and thousands of people within the event they put on. It is thanks to these media persons reporting on their respective teams that “bring the game home”.
But this blog is not about endless possibilities of bringing AR to your glowing screen, but rather for those who are preparing to document their teams. With 50 teams entered into Expedition Africa: Namaqua, there will be close to the same amount of media on route, many of them popping their adventure media cherry on Expedition Africa. “It’s remote and there is no popping into the local Wimpy for a coffee, you on your own out there”, shares Race Director, Stephan Muller. This is your own adventure, so document the hell out of it!
So, in saying all that, below are 5 tips and tricks that I have learnt over the past 6 years that will make it a little easier for those documenting their teams at this year’s EA.
Yip, you are not the only one out there burning calaries. Sure, it’s not at the same rate as your team members, but working close up to 24 hours a day, for 3-7 days will eventually catch up. Make sure you have easy to make food, available water and a few treats for when you’re moeg. Future Life in a zip lock bag is a good option for breakfast, or a simple snack, so are cup a soups or pretty much anything you can heat on the side of the road with your mini gas cooker.
Keep fuelled and that will help you to plan and work clearly. Supporting local restaurants is a fantastic way to report from featuring the added bonus of food you didn’t have to heat or prepare yourself!
The more you plan, the luckier you will get. Coming up with a plan to meet your team is one thing but timing it with a setting sun, mid abseil is another animal all together. Stephan Muller from Kinetic Events, puts together an incredible media plan that allows us media to barely use a brain cell when it comes to planning your day. But mix it up with one of the many map apps, 1:50 000 map and you’re on your way to getting the shot. Team Media are usually only allowed in designated areas for good reason, but within your means, there is nothing stopping you from thinking outside the box and nailing those shots you planned in your head. In saying all this, be flexible. Your team could easy pick up a problem and you could miss that glorious sunrise.
3) Be careful
Ah man! As a photographer, I have put myself in many dangerous situations that probably could have been by passed but resulted in EPIC photographs and some of the best memories. But in no way is a photo worth your life or equipment. Be constantly aware of your surroundings and the area you are in. In the end this is an adventure race and your safety falls firmly on your own shoulders.
4) Be on it!
As I mentioned above, we become the eyes and ears to the followers back home. Get the news and photographs out to the public as quick as possible. This will result in better, more quality views and interactions with your audience. Include the Kinetic Events ‘tag’ into your post which will then be shared by the page, which will generate more views for your content.
5) Have a Jol!
Some of my best friendships have been created with a camera in my hands. Some of my best memories have been on some or other route in Expedition Africa. Take the time to get to know your fellow media and work with them, in the end your best work is usually a team effort so branch out and work together instead of against each other. Finally, I can promise you that once you head home after all this adventure, you will have post-race blues – and for good reason, this was an adventure of a life time!
PS: A final note – respect goes a long way when you out photographing your team. with over 20 media on course, you are bound to photo bomb someone’s long awaited photo. So be respectful of other peoples space and be aware of your surroudings. You will find the more you work together, the more you will get done… Just ask your team 🙂