Just because Serena Williams is good doesn’t make my photos good

Every job has its routines and can be monotonous. Even when shooting the No. 1 women’s player in the world, Serena Williams.

As photographers, we know there are a million and one photos of her out there, so we know that coming up with something different is a tall order. But we also don’t want to just roll over and go for the routine. That’s when we start hoping for something out of the ordinary, like a fall or a miscue. It’s not that we wish any harm or ill will on the players, we just want something out of the ordinary — then hope we’re in the right place at the right time to capture it.

Well, nothing out of the ordinary happened yesterday in Serena’s first match of the China Open, against Russian Elena Vesnina. That’s not to say it was a cakewalk — Serena had a hard time fighting her way through the first set, resorting to yells and even an f-bomb to get herself back on track.
highlights loBut toward the end of the first set the light on Diamond Court began to change and Williams started sweating more. The light was now reflecting nicely off her glistening skin. So I tried to make a photo that captured that. The photo above is my effort at that, including cleaning up the background. The one below is another attempt, this one with far less manipulation.
arm muscles adjusted LOI think I wasn’t able to achieve what I wanted in part because of the light colored shirt and headband she is wearing. Because they are light, those two elements pull your eye away from the highlights coming off her skin. The second photo is more of a straight-forward tight shot, really showing off her arms.

Then below is a selection of photos from the match. No, they’re not great, but they are what I got to experience last night.

One last note: I’ve shot several of high profile events but I have to say that being so close to Serena was a bit intimidating at first. And then Venus walked in and sat just 30 feet away from me! But by the time I shot them today in their doubles match (see previous post) I was no longer star struck.

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