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Interview With Michael Dodge

Michael Dodge Is an award winning photographer. On staff at the Herald Sun, he captures sports action daily.

What was your first job in the biz?
I joined the Herald Sun as a cadet photographer in 1991. I quit TAFE earlier that year and gained a photographic folio so I could show it to the paper.

How did you first get involved with sports photography?
I first got involved in sports photography when I started to photograph the local footy games. I would play football early in the afternoon and then I would get the camera out and then photograph my teammates who played later that day.

What are the essential elements for capturing a great sports photo?
Essential elements are to have innate knowledge of every sport and sporting individual you shoot. This helps you anticipate things better.

What advice would you give someone wanting to enter the sports photo biz?
Save up money to get a good camera and lens and then practice at every sporting event you can get to. You have to practice every moment you can.

You were the winner of the 2010 Nikon Walkley sports Photographer of the Year – could you tell us how you managed to capture that shot at Phillip Island race track?
The photo at the Philip Island GP circuit was on a corner called Lukey Heights. Riders tend to go a bit too quick exiting the corner and as a result they tend to flip over the handle bars. It’s just a matter trying to have the camera fixed on every
single rider that goes through the corner during the race. That can be a tough ask though because they go very quickly.

Are there any photographers that have had an impact/ influence on your work? Who? Why?
Terry Phelan was a legend sport photographer for ‘The Sun’ newspaper. He gave me the job at the paper in 1991. He took me and my fellow colleagues for cadet class each week and showed us the photographs he used to take out in the sporting arena. They were absolutely incredible and to this day I still wonder how he got some of them. He was the person that I looked up to the most when he was at the paper. He is now retired.

How much of a rapport do you need with your subjects to achieve a great shot?
Rapport is everything. It’s all about having a great relationship with your subject. Respect and trust are the most important aspects of the relationship.

You’re packing for an assignment, what’s in the camera bag?
Usually two Nikon SLR cameras, lenses ranging from 16-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm and either a 400mm or 600mm depending on the sport. There are usually two Nikon S900 flashes and a remote to use them off the camera. A monopod would be packed as well as two small light stands to put the flashes on. Accompanying the bag sometimes are a portable Elinchrome lighting kit and material backgrounds and two Pocket Wizards so the lights can be used wirelessly.

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1 comment

  • Peter Carty says:


    My name is Peter Carty. I fill a committee position within the Frankston Photographic Club, looking after training and the club’s competition calendar. I am also a (very mature age) student in Photoimaging at Chisholm Institute, Dandenong.

    I was given your name by Patricia Barden of the Nepean Camera Club. She said how much her members were looking forward to having you judge the club’s members’ images this month.

    The Frankston Photographic Club is hosting an internal competition with the subject “Sports and Action” on Wednesday evening, 7 August. For our fixed subject competitions, we are keen to obtain comments from people who are experienced within the topic area, so members can learn from their assessments. From the information posted on the web, they could learn a lot from you.

    FPC has a membership of just over 160. Our competition entries usually consist of 30 to 40 prints and 40 to 50 projected images. As I am involved in providing image assessments myself, I am aware of the time and effort that can go into conducting a judging session.

    Is it possible you can judge the Frankston Photographic Club competition? We realise you have other things in your life, and the period of notice might be short, however the value to our amateur photographic community would be substantial.

    My contact numbers are: 5979 7009 and 0411 724 742.

    Thank you for considering my request.

    Peter J C

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