After my only day off during the first round of the World Cup, my team of Getty Images photographers hit the road. Unfortunately, it was at 4:30 in the morning. Six photographers and one technician slowly trudged out of our apartments with pillows in one hand and camera gear in the other. We boarded a bus with a few other journalists, a group of techs from Canon and our two security guards and we were off to Nelspruit for the Honduras vs. Chile game. We made one stop at a Wimpy Burger along the way and pulled up to the stadium, which seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere, around 9:30 am in the morning.
The game itself wasn’t that great, the lighting conditions made it extremely difficult to take pictures. The players were silhouetted against the bright background which made it difficult to get any detail of their faces without over-exposing the background. Towards the end of the game, a shaft of light started coming across the field, which made for a few good pictures if you could get the exposure correct.
We arrived back at our apartment at 11:30 pm that night and quickly headed to bed. We had another four hour drive the next day for the France vs. Mexico game in Polokwane. This game didn’t start until 8:00 pm in the evening so we didn’t have to leave quite as early. We did however need to pack an overnight bag as we were going to spend the night there. The drive was flat and straight, but towards the last hour of the trip there were a few mountain ranges that made the drive a little more interesting.
The Getty Images World Cup “Johannesburg 2” Team – ( l to r) David Cannon, Ezra Shaw, Streeter Lecka, Ryan Pierse, Mike Hewitt, Antoine Decaux, & Christof Koepsel
After checking in to our hotel, which seemed to take about an hour, we headed out to try to find some food. The choices weren’t great, and even though Streeter was voting for McDonalds, he was overruled by the rest of the team for a local pub in the middle of nowhere named the Horse Shoe Pub & Grill. Antoine, our technician from France, had been here once before when he was setting up for the stadium. The bartender remembered him and was happy to see us. Most of us ordered the local specialty of boerewors with paps and sous (Sausage with grits and gravy). It was surprisingly good. Way better than the burger that Streeter ordered, a frozen patty that was served on white bread.
It was the coldest night yet when France kicked off against Mexico. Even with all my layers and cap and gloves, I was frozen by halftime. The game was pretty entertaining, but not great for pictures. I did enjoy seeing the Mexican fans in their lucha libre masks during the game, and I was able to get my best celebration picture to date after Mexico scored on a penalty kick. Even though I was on the wrong side of the field for the goal, Carlos Salcido of Mexico turned towards me and dropped to his knees after they scored.
After the game we tried to make Streeter happy by hitting a McDonalds, but unfortunately for him, it seemed like everyone else at the game had the same idea. The line was way too long so we decided to just head back to the hotel for the night.