Sports Photography by Bob Given, October 24th 2018

The night’s talk was presented by Bob Given from Northern Ireland. Bob lives in Belfast and he belongs to the Catchlight Camera Club which is the current FIAP (International Federation of Photographic Art) World Cup holder in photography. The club is also the current Irish Champion .

Bob was given his first camera at the age of 21 and he has been taking photographs ever since. He has been a sports photographer for more than 40 years and is currently employed by Northern Ireland Athletics to photograph their events. Bob used to play rugby but unfortunately had to give up due to injury. He became a rugby referee instead and served for 22 seasons.

Bob showed around 200 images during the evening  which covered a wide range of sports including athletics, cricket, American football, netball, table tennis, baseball, cage fighting (otherwise known as mixed martial arts), Australian rules football and of course rugby. He entertained the audience with humorous accounts of his personal experiences as well as giving practical advice. His love of sport, particularly rugby, was apparent throughout.


While Bob’s superb and prize winning images made sports photography look easy, he made it clear that it is not and that there are many pitfalls to be avoided.  The first of these is simply in choosing and gaining access to a good  position to take images,  both to achieve the best angle for shooting  the action, but also to avoid distracting backgrounds. Bob pointed out that in a number of sports the low level of lighting could be a problem and in others, for example cricket, considerable  patience is required in order to achieve just one or two quality shots.

Bob pointed out that it is useful to have a good knowledge of the sport you are photographing. Choosing the right moment to press the shutter is critical. His advice was “if you see it in the viewfinder you’ve missed the shot”. Anticipation is crucial and Bob’s many years as a rugby referee enables him to predict what will happen next. He also advised that it is essential to ensure you prepare for the event in advance and have the right equipment, particularly lenses, with you.  Even he had been caught out with the wrong lens on the odd occasion! Post processing is also important and Bob explained how he goes about this.


Bob’s expertise is not limited to sports photography and he brought along the twenty prints that comprised his successful Master’s panel. This demonstrated his proficiency in other fields of photography, particularly people and portraiture. His prints illustrated the exacting standards that are required to achieve a Master ‘s distinction with the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, the highest award that can be achieved.

Bob gave us a most enjoyable an entertaining evening on a subject that was quite different to previous talks.

Julie Walker

More of Bob’s work can be seen at: