Country: New Zealand
Alisha has been the lead photographer and graphic designer for Athletics New Zealand since 2015. She was an athlete throughout school, participating in athletics, football and cricket. She never got the chance to compete professionally due to injuries. She is still a regular pole vaulter, which helps keep her fit and strong enough to trek with heavy camera gear all day.
Alisha has a Bachelor of Design degree (Graphic Design) and Post Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Digital and Social Media).
What differentiates a good photograph from a great one?
Oo great question! Photography is rather subjective so there is no right or wrong answer and quite often someones ‘favourite photo’ might not necessarily be the strongest image out there but it is one that connects with themselves. In staying that there are some pretty key principles to what makes a strong image and these include, but are not limited to: composition, lighting, leading lines, background and emotion. So generally, if you combine all of those you will get a pretty strong image! Then you throw in a bit of spice that could be environmental like water spray, something in the background, a ‘freak’ occurrence etc. I personally love emotive images so some of my favourite images are ones that combine emotion with good composition.
Do you have a special design process you go through when starting a new project?
Yes! If I am shooting an event I always come in with a plan. With athletics you need to know what are the best spots for each event and you need A B C D E plans just in case there is something disruptive in the background of your shot, or there is someone/something (i.e official, tv etc) in the spot you would usually sit. Then you need to know how to read the event so you can somewhat predict what is going to happen, and understand how the event is going to be proactive for celebrations and story moments. If I am doing an assignment based project for commercial/editorial reasons I do a shot list and rough sketch / storyboard of every image I want plus room for some improvisation. This is so I am more efficient on set with an athlete and don’t tire them out doing unnecessary images.
We really enjoyed your blogs from the Tokyo Olympics. What is the most interesting thing that happened during your time at the Olympics?
Haha honestly I really underestimated how difficult it is to fill up a tube of saliva for our Covid testing. I got super quick by the end of the games, thank goodness! There were countless incredible memories but that would be one of the more interesting ones.
It is wonderful to see a woman in sports media because it can be quite male dominated, what encouragement would you offer other women wanting to work in the sports industry?
Just get yourself out there. If you already have a sport you are involved in, start there! The reason I started shooting Athletics is because I do Athletics myself so it was just a case of taking images of my friends and it just escalated from there. Let your images do the talking. Also networking is very key so when you get yourself out there and start shooting, use that time to talk to people so people can get to know you as a person alongside your work.
Other than athletics, what sport do you enjoy shooting and why?
I shot hockey at the Olympics for our New Zealand teams which I absolutely loved!! I also love shooting any sport where the athlete has a ‘tool’ so in this instance, the hockey stick because it kind of looks like a weapon and you can also use this to add to the composition. I also love shooting extreme sports like BMX racing and Kiting as you can have a good mix of closeups as well as wider shots showing the athlete in their element.
What was the WORST advice that you have ever been given?
Hahaha I have had a few of these. One of these is the best zoom lens you can have is your feet. Wrong, firstly that is easier said than done in a stadium as you can imagine, can’t just walk out on the track right? Also focal lengths vastly effect your image composition and can be used for various effects. Wider lenses have a wider field of view, however more zoom means you compress the background more which can both be used to your advantage depending on what your primary goal is to achieve when viewing the image. Another one is to rush out and buy the latest and greatest gear. Honestly just shoot with what you have and what you can afford. If your gear isn’t ‘as good’ as the pro gear, all it is going to do is force you to work harder to get the same shots which will make you a better photographer in the long run. Good gear essentially makes it easier to get good shots. But good gear isn’t going to make a bad image good, it is just going to make a bad image bigger. Some of my best images are taken on cameras that aren’t deemed the best for sport!
We know you are a meme enthusiast – what is your favorite meme at the moment?
Hahah way too many! Memes are pretty topical so quite often this changes depending on what is happening in society/your own life etc. World Athletics do a fantastic job at creating Athletics Memes that are on point with whatever is happening in the athletics world at that time, making them incredibly effective and hilarious!