Most Rugby World Cup™ images we see in newspapers, in magazines and on websites are sharp, tightly-composed close-ups of bone-crunching scrums, dramatic tries or ecstatic celebrations.
But action shots are only one kind of image shot during the event. More visually creative images, which focus on the atmosphere and spectacle of the tournament from different angles, are sought after for a variety of uses, from advertising, promotional materials and merchandise to in-company presentations.
Richard Heathcote is a senior photographer at Getty Images, who has covered major sporting events including numerous international tournaments. He says shooting different kinds of images is not just good for business but is also more creatively fulfilling for photographers.
"I like to look for different angles, to tell the story from multiple points of view – it's a refreshing challenge to find something new," he says. "At the end, it's good to look back at the images from all our photographers covering a match to see a nice variety of shots that complement each other."
Chris Lee, who has been a sports photographer for nearly 20 years and has also covered many major international sports events, agrees: "At the end of Rugby World Cup™ I don't want to have only action pictures," he says. "For my own satisfaction, I want to look back over a nice set of arty pictures and feel I've achieved something."
Richard and Chris both covered Rugby World Cup 2015™ for Getty Images and World Rugby™, the sport's governing body. Here they look back at some of the more quirky, unusual and creative images they shot during the tournament and reveal how and why they made them.
"Something I always do as part of a Rugby World Cup™ brief is to build up a story from the game," says Chris. "I don't want to just show the action on the pitch, I also want to capture the build-up, the excitement and the emotion from the beginning to the end."
In the period before a match begins, Chris says he always "takes a wander" around the ground to look for images that capture the colour of the occasion. While covering the France v Romania match, Chris saw a group of French fans that summed up the pre-match atmosphere. "It's a great part of the game when you go looking for fans before the match because they're relaxed and in high spirits," he says.
Among the lenses in his kitbag was the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and he chose it to photograph these face-painted French fans. "I used the 200mm end of the lens's range to compact the image and make sure their faces were clear."
"In the Wales v Fiji match, I wanted to place a camera looking down on the try line to capture players diving over to score," says Richard. "If a try is scored by a driving maul, or lots of players pushing for the line, it's sometimes very messy from pitch level, so looking down on it gives you another perspective."
Richard set up two static cameras which he triggered remotely, covering both corners at the end of the pitch. They were mounted to the catwalk of the roof several hours in advance of the match. This shot was taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens.
"I couldn't move the cameras once they were in position, but I knew the areas I wanted to photograph, so I just had to wait and hope that a try might happen in one of those corners," he says. "This kind of image is more graphic, so it gives users an opportunity to fill a space in a newspaper or magazine with an image readers wouldn't normally see."
"A fisheye is one of those little lenses that is really lovely to have in your kitbag," says Chris Lee. "However, I'll probably only use it every couple of months for nice big stadium general views, or maybe at the side of the pitch when players are running past."
When he was covering the France v Romania match at Rugby World Cup 2015™, he intentionally went to one end of the Olympic Stadium (now the London Stadium) with his Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens. "It's a nice bowl-like stadium with triangular floodlights that I wanted to use," he explains. "Using the fisheye makes it a lot more circular and brings the bowl in a bit more.
"Shooting from one end of the stadium gave more of a circular shape and included the curve of the fans at the bottom of the frame and the curve of the stadium at the top."
Pictures of the trophy awarded to winning Rugby World Cup™ team, the Webb Ellis Cup, could be used in connection with any Rugby World Cup™. During the opening ceremony of the 2015 tournament at Twickenham, Chris Lee saw an opportunity to take an unusual and striking image of the trophy.
"The teams were about to come out onto the pitch and all the Twickenham floodlights were turned off," he remembers. "Everything went down apart from a few spotlights being moved around the pitch. I was hovering around the players' tunnel, waiting for the teams to run out. I looked around and tried to anticipate what might happen.
"Then I saw the Webb Ellis Cup with the flames going off behind it, which I thought looked really nice. I shot it with the long end of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens to get in as close as I could."
Richard was covering the Ireland v Canada Rugby World Cup 2015™ match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff (now the Principality Stadium), which Ireland won 50-7. As well as shooting the in-game action, he also wanted to record the camaraderie between the opposing teams.
"As official World Rugby™ photographers, we have access to areas others don't," he says. "Rugby is such a brutal game, but come the final whistle the teams always applaud each other off the pitch. I moved towards the halfway line just before the final whistle to fit in and work around the TV camera operator."
This shot shows the veteran Canadian rugby player Ray Barkwill being applauded by the Ireland team. To capture the feeling of almost being in the line of Irish players, he used his Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens. "The benefit of using the 24-70mm is that it's a good versatile lens in this situation," he says. "You can move around and get wide quickly if you need it."
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