Mladen Paradžik from Academic beach handball club Detono Zagreb made an interview with Uroš Hočevar, the EHF/IHF photographer and author of the book „Moments in time“, which was published two months ago. At the beginning of the interview, please, introduce yourself: who are you, what is your occupation and what is the origin of your interest for beach handball? Photo: Matej Leskovšek
At this moment I live in Ljubljana and work for Slovenian journal „Delo“, European and International handball associations. Beside that, I am editor of internet page of the Adriatic basketball league, work for Celje theater and participate on other interesting projects. Regarding my education, at this time I am writing my own doctoral thesis on Philosophic faculty in Ljubljana. Theme of the PhD thesis will rely on theme of the master thesis, which was previously published as book with the title: „Esthetics of the reportage photography“.
In 2006, I started to work in Delo, and after that I worked for political magazine „Mag“ and sport journal „Ekipa“. With those projects many options became available for me and I got the chance to cover and explore different sports: football games around the Europe, handball championships since 2001., ice hockey games of Slovenian national selection, many basketball and volleyball games. Interesting thing is that I have never watched any kind of sport events on TV, or live as a fan. I only watched the games through the hole of photo objective. Though, I am real Slovenian and since I was a kid, my idol was Bojan Križaj (famous Slovenian skier). Skiing is the only sport which I like to watch.
I discover beach handball recently (2012) in Oman, when I got the call from IHF. In their office in Basel I sorted out some formalities regarding the travel to Oman and I asked responsible people that they send me few beach handball photos so I could be familiar with this sport discipline. So, they send me the airplain ticket and three hazy photos, and said not to be vorried and that everything will be fine. So, I registered one stamp more in my passport and tried a new sport as a photographer. I was thrilled, it was completely wild and new experience for me, real creative adventure- eventhough the sand is not great for my equipment. I enjoy working. Because of the weather conditions, the games were played by night in Oman.
What is the most popular motif which you like to capture during the beach handball games?
The sand is passion, the way how players spin, whatever movement was made, everything starts and finishes with passion. Everything bursts with enthusiasm and mutual connections between players could be visible through the objective. So, atractivity and individual technical virtuosity of players at the moment of spin shot is priceless. And when sweat and sand are mixed together... there are no better pictures then faces mottled with the sand, filled with ardor, passion until the last second of the game. Furthermore, I always search emotions during the sport events; tears of happiness and sadness-those are the best motifs. Although the actions are also nice and attractive by itself, individual or team emotions are better bait for my objective. Inner experience, special habits and preparations for the match, specially varnished nails on the females players fingers-those are nice motifs for the photographer.
Before beach handball, you met with the other beach sports. What are your impressions when you compare beach handball with beach volleyball?
I always repeat how I pleasantly surprised with the atractivity of beach handball when I compare it with the beach volleyball. I cannot imagine that beach volleyball was one of the most visited sports at the Olympic games held in London, for which was impossible to buy the tickets at the last moment. Everything was sold out. It looks to me that Brazilian federation do their best to include the beach handball into the Olympic program. I don't know the situation at this moment, but it wouldn't be bad to meet each other at the Copacabana beach, wouldn't it ;) ?
Beside your cooperation with the EHF, you are the official photographer of the IHF, too. On which competitions did you participate so far? For which one you have the most beautiful impressions? Also, if you have some interesting sand story, share it with us.
Once, I was obliged to put something about myself on EHF web page and they send me few sheet examples of other coleagues. All stories began with same sentence: I played handball since I was a little kid... And I asked the question to my self: hmm... what now? I don't know anything about handball, I know a little bit about volleyball which I played one short period. Only thing I seriously trained was cycling. So, I decided to be honest, that handball never interested me, that I never watch games or follow some handball results or team etc. And that should be my advance because I am not handball fan. I am interested to the spectacle to itself. I am not interested to the „stars“, winning or loosing teams. I enjoy imaging, emotions, harsh moments of the game, bench, coach's reactions, communication and public-team connection, preparations for the match. So- EHF decided to publish everything except my weak interest for the handball game ;)
My colleague laughed when I told him that I explained to my less experienced colleagues during the second final 4 in Cologne, on which points should they care when the team plays 6-0 zone. From the photographers view, the action begins after the crossing and focus should be pointed to the back players, because there is a smaller chance to pass the ball to the pivot. If defense team is positioned in 5-1 zone, then it should be focused on the 6m as well etc. So, it looks that I photographed more than 200 handball games in Olympic season, and I still don't have any experience in handball as a game per se. I wonder how many games one coach or player monitor during one season.
Shortly, I cooperate with the EHF almost 9 years, with IHF since 2010 youth Olympic games. But still, my favorite competition is Olympics 2012. IHF gave me accreditation one month before the games, and I think that every photographer want to participate at the Games. I always make a joke that photographers also have small „Olympic games“ inside the real Games, because everything is so perfect. All that convention works as a masterclass, where new ideas are born and new possibilities are offered, together with the newest cameras and lenses to try.
Regarding the beach handball- please tell to Igor (Croatian national selection goalkeeper) that he should be more careful next time because he saved one ball in Randers and that ball hit me directly in the camera and broke my arcade. ;) But everything passed well with little blood and with help of the ER I continued with my work soon ;) . At the end, the wound was smaller than 1 mm and it looked that I bled because of nothing like a cissy, but never mind ;)
At the end, what do you expect from the beach handball? Do you think that sport can move up on visual look. What should be take in consider during the next competitions...
There is plenty of space for this sport to move forward. The sport is relatively young. We were both in Columbia, you as a player. I am sure that we will not forget spectacular court in bullfighting arena, as well as 12000 people on the final day. The World games organizer pronounced the beach handball as the greatest sport of the Cali World games. I am sure that photos for this competition is something which will follow us for a long time.
I think that those are the things which predict the bright future to the beach handball, which is very popular in many countries and it is greatly accepted in countries where it is played. At this moment Slovenian handball scene is to traditional to try something new, but I hope that it will change soon.
Uroš, thank you very much for your time and I hope that you will capture and make the beach handball history through your objective for a long time. Best regards.
Few of Uroš photos you may find HERE
"Moments in time" book you may find HERE