02 June 2020

Gregg Porteous' favourite SCG, SFS snaps

By Gregg Porteous

As a young man, I had always loved going to the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch sport.

I remember my first trip to the SCG, with my mum and dad, to watch the Aussies in a Test match. We were big fans of Greg Chappell. Since the days of watching cricket and league in the stands or on the old hill with my family, I have spent many more hours at the SCG – privileged ones at that.

I never knew or thought that I would be lucky enough to one day ‘work’ at the famous SCG. I say that the way I do because whenever I have shot at the SFS or SCG, there’s never a dull moment. It is not simply a ‘turn-up-and-get-paid-for-being-there’ type of go. ‘Love the work you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life’, so the adage goes. When you’re shooting at these grounds, that saying couldn’t be more true.

Every venture out onto the hallowed turf is one I hold dear. Few people – other than those who are the very best at what they do – get to set foot on the SCG. Just think of the great names that take their place atop the stands and around the ground.

Bradman, Churchill, and Dally Messenger, among others. Seeing these names when capturing sport at the ground is very humbling, still. I consider myself a very lucky person to have enjoyed the experiences that I have.

I have taken more photos than I could dare to imagine at the SCG and the SFS, over the years. When asked for my ‘Top 10’ it was hard to make a definitive list – but here are 10 of my most favourite pictures taken at the grounds – for a variety of reasons.

 

 

This photo was shot on a tilt-shift lens, a lens not commonly used in sports photography. Work with this lens gives a different perspective. It’s very tricky to get it right, but when you do, it’s a special feeling. The thin plane of focus gives a beautiful feel across the magnificent Sydney Cricket Ground. This here is Day 1 of the 2018/19 Ashes series. It’s always exciting waking up the morning of an Ashes Test match. Australia had already secured the series, but a beautiful day presented itself at the SCG and you could feel the energy in the ground wherever you stood or sat. This photo is taken from the Victor Trumper Stand, where Nathan Lyon bowls from the Randwick end of the ground. The Australian fielders appear more like figurines from the ‘Test Match Cricket’ board game, than they do real people. Australia would go on to win the Test match by an innings and 123 runs.

 

As a photographer at the SCG, you are always looking for this photo. Getting the beautiful stands behind the action is always the goal – it’s our job to show them off. Here, Roosters captain Boyd Cordner dives over for a try, straight down the lens. Telling the truth, I didn’t even know Latrell Mitchell was there until I looked back at the snaps soon after. All my focus and attention was on capturing Boyd’s try. The composition of this photo is near-perfect. Shooting rugby league at the SCG, it’s all about trying to put yourself in the right position at the right time. This is one of those moments where it all came together.

 

This here is a technique I’d seen before and had always wanted to recreate. Myself and Sydney Sixers’ GM Jodie Hawkins are actually inside the ‘zorbs’ created here by the moving light. Such was the means of the shot, and our movement throughout it, you can’t see us. The photo was shot in complete darkness on a 90-second exposure – meaning Brett Lee and Pat Cummins had to stand extremely still to not appear blurry in the final shot. It took many attempts and plenty of patience from Brett and Pat to finally get it right – the shoot itself took more than an hour to get the final snap. To capture all the elements together, it was a ‘9/10’ difficulty. The photo ran on the back page of the Daily Telegraph ahead of a Sydney Smash at the SCG in 2015.

 

There are few joys like that of shooting rugby league at the SCG on a Sunday afternoon. The lighting that is thrown over the back of the old stands is as close to perfect as you can get. I’ve shot league at many grounds over many years, but the backdrop that the SCG provides is the best of them all. Here, Luke Brooks scoots away from the Dragons in round 24 of the 2019 season. It was just one of the many moments that Wests Tigers fans had reason to cheer on the afternoon – they went on to win the match 42-14.

 

Traditionally the last Test of the summer, fortunately – or unfortunately – you get to witness some of the greats of the game retire. Here is Justin Langer being chaired off the SCG by Brett Lee and Stuart Clark, just moments after the Australians secured a 5-0 Ashes sweep over England in 2006/07. I had always admired Langer as a player, and now as a coach. At the crease, he was every bit tough and defiant as he was elegant and crafty. Justin Langer just sums up everything it means to be an Aussie cricketer.

The Sydney Roosters honour Johnathan Thurston after the side’s clash with the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium in 2018. This here was a mark of respect that all the clubs had extended to Thurston on his ‘farewell tour’. This photo showed how high he was, and is still, held in the sport. I was lucky enough to be there to capture it. JT’s headgear from the match now reside in the Sydney Cricket Ground Museum.  

 

David Warner’s ‘100 before lunch’ against Pakistan was truly one of those special moments. I had shot many Tests at the SCG before this one, but I had never seen anything like that before. The atmosphere in the ground was enormous. You could feel the energy pulsating throughout the stands when everyone began to think he could get to the magical milestone. There are few moments like these where you get a sense that you’re witnessing something special. It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment.  I had to get it right. As a photographer, you need to make sure he doesn’t jump out the top of your frame – because you know if Warner gets to his 100 that he’s going to go ballistic. I’ve always found the camera like a barrier between the emotion. For me, it’s always ‘picture first’, and enjoy the moment later.

 

This may not be the world’s best picture, but it means a lot to me. This here is Balmain captain Wayne Pearce after the Tigers lost the 1989 NSWRL grand final to the Canberra Raiders, in an extra-time thriller. It was the first time I’d shot a grand final at the SFS. As a Balmain fan, it was shattering. Pearce was one of the best Tigers to have ever played the game. Here he is, overcome with emotion and despair. The photo was shot on film via an all-manual focus camera. Each roll of film had 36 frames. Shooting in these days, you had to be patient – you didn’t want to have wasted your roll and miss the shot. The art of photography has changed so much since this day. We would hurry from the grounds back up to our News Limited office at Surry Hills in Sydney to process the photos. It was probably close to two hours after I had taken the photo before I had seen it as a print. Now, it can be in your hands in an instant.

 

Few batsmen in world cricket proved more troublesome to dismiss than the great Brian Lara. So, when Zoe Goss snared his wicket in a charity match at the SCG in 1994, it meant plenty. Brian can be seen here, wiping his brow with a look of disappointment and disbelief. 

 

Any chance you get to shoot an Olympic gold medalist is always a great occasion. This photo of Charlotte Casslick was snapped for the Sydney Cricket and Sports Grounds members’ 1876 magazine. Charlotte was a wonderful athlete to work with, and she spoke so glowingly of the SCG – she one day hopes to play there. The combination of a stunning athlete and the beautiful SCG, it’s hard to top.

 

Gregg Porteous is a highly-experienced photographer who brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to every image he captures. Specialising in sport photography, Gregg has extensive experience working for one of the largest newspapers in the country, The Daily Telegraph. From covering all the action, to working with politicians, elite athletes and celebrities, Gregg has managed to capture stunning and professional portraits as well as current affairs and life events. Gregg is incredibly passionate about photography and is well recognised and respected in the industry by peers, athletes and the corporate world. Want to see more of Gregg's work? Visit his website here

 

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