Chess photography at Wijk aan Zee (2/2)

by Alina l'Ami
2/6/2017 – In this second part of her pictorial of images from Tata Steel, Alina L'Ami continues to not only share her choice images, but also what fascinated her, what attracted her, what made her stop and think. All these moments are unveiled as she explains why some work, and why some don't, and ideas for you to take home and try to include in your own photography. In the meantime, enjoy this photographic selection with her comments.

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All text and photos by Alina L'Ami

(Continued from Part One)

Next 'trick' on the list: reflections.

Through the looking glass

2 in 1: chess pieces present plus their reflection in the glasses

Again, looks easier than it is actually done. You must be in the correct angle to capture the reflections and quite often that becomes difficult in a fully packed playing hall. So I 'cheated' and shot in the press room, where sometimes the GMs come to analyze their games.

Reflection in the iris

If my lens allowed it, I would have come even closer. I can still crop further though, cutting the nose out too, but I kind of like the “ChessBase”.

Famous by now: the youngest IM in history (at the age of 10 years, 10 months, and 19 days), Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

It helps knowing your subjects a little. I met this boy before and I expected nothing less than two beautifully wide opened eyes.

I think this is my favorite portrait in the series. No chess pieces but the theme is there.

What I like about photos is that they capture a moment which is gone in the very next second, becoming past. But photographing the future is another story...

Back to the future: Exposing clear grandmaster ambitions – Loek van Wely's son, Nicholas.

I am not a fan of the typical player vs player chess media shots, but I understand the urge of the journalists in having them. It saves time in uploading or discussing about a certain match. How about having that with a little twist?

A little bit different angle, from a lower side

True, you don't see both player's faces but a journalist will surely find a way to sell the story through Loek's expression.

This is surely in my Tata Steel Chess tournament Top Three, if not number one by now. (Ed: it is my personal favorite)

Obviously one can photograph only the chess wall of fame but that would be pure information. With the mother and the child interaction in the frame, stories can be created... I probably said it before but in chess photography everything is so ordinary, especially for a chess player like you or myself; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary. And I am still looking.

But sometimes new (hopefully!) angles come along

We all know how beautiful and photogenic Sopiko Guramishvili is, so why not show her from another view point?

Idol and supporter reunited

I cannot help and return to what caresses my soul most: showing the humanity in the chess world and the players. This man in a wheelchair drove more than 3 hours to encourage Sopiko, waited in close vicinity until the game was finished, to only talk to her for about fvie minutes. And Sopiko should have won that game! (Rd12)

Lines not only in chess but also in photography

Perhaps you would say that's not such a special shot. In a way I agree. But at the same time I wanted to emphasize that useful photos are needed as well, while with a bit of patience one can make them pop just a bit further. Without having Anish in that particular spot, the image would have lost its balance.

Working extra hours

Everyone had seen the fully packed Tata Steel Chess Tournament venue, especially in weekends when one would inevitably step on other people's shoes. How about having an empty room with only one game going?

Or the same Tata Steel branding but a bit more subtle?

Not only the GMs but also the spectators are getting younger and younger

Full flexibility is needed in chess

These type of shots became a recurrent theme for me: street photography in a chess environment – that is the reason why I didn't cut off the tv-screens, which show the live games. I am happy, organizers are happy and the little guys seem happy too, especially when:

You get your idol's autograph!

A natural smile is gold

As standard as this photo looks like, to have it done is a different story since every day, every round, the photographers are more and more demanding. Luckily, Wesley is an incredibly sympathetic person and manages to give a relaxed impression right before the most important games, at the end of the tournament.

Wijk aan Zee dressed up for the occasion

There is so much more happening around a chess tournament than only the games. And by showing those images to you I am not trying to distract your attention. I only hope I manage to make you feel as part of it. (I also like the complementary colors – green and red)

The village slowly waking up

Meanwhile, landscapes (which for some reasons I feel they are underestimated) will continue to attract me. Just like:

Those fantastic eyes

Yours truly,

Alina l'Ami

Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.


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