He is an international award winning World Press Photo photographer with more than three decades of experience in sports photography.
He has also been to more than ten Olympic Games where he has captured historic moments like the United States 4x100m team featuring the legendary Carl Lewis smashing world and Olympic records at the 1992 edition in Barcelona.
But to Bill Frakes (below), the most important picture he took was in the emergency room of a nondescript hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, moments after his wife had given birth to his daughter, Havana, in 2001.
World Press Photo photographer, Bill Frakes. (Photo by VoxSports)
“The most significant moment I have captured was my daughter’s birth. The day before my wife was scheduled to give birth, I was in the hospital planning how I wanted the shot to turn out,” said Frakes, at the sidelines of a sports photography sharing session organised by Sport Singapore.
Frakes (front row, third from left) was in town for a sports photography sharing session organised by Sport Singapore. (Photo by VoxSports)
“When my wife gave birth to Havana, I made her move out of the bed. She wasn’t very happy because she was in pain and the nurses thought I was crazy, but I managed to take the shot.
“Today, the hospital has the photo framed in one of the rooms.”
A common theme in all his works are the hours of meticulous planning he does before he picks up the camera to take a shot; Frakes was at the hospital the day before, just to plan and conceptualise how he wanted the shot to turn out.
That was also the story he shared with the participants during the session on 11 January, where he explained the reasoning behind the extensive preparations that he takes to capture the right moments.
Frakes shares that a common theme in all his works are the hours of meticulous planning he does before he picks up the camera to take a shot. (Photo by VoxSports)
“A strong back is important for me because 80% of what I do is moving furniture. For every minute that I have a camera in front of my face, there are ten hours of logistical preparations,” explained the Sports Illustrated staff photographer.
“I try to get everything I can while I'm working. I don't just shoot and walk away because trying to figure out what the right moment is, is tough.
“I use a vacuum-cleaner approach where I try to suck up all the moments and when the day is over, I dump it back out and try to find the one I like.
“This profession requires a lot of patience, planning, research and a lot of work.”
The attentive audience soaking up every piece of advice that Frakes was sharing at the session. (Photo by VoxSports)
On top of those virtues, Frakes also shared that the other important aspects of being a photographer was to be humble and respectful.
“The most important thing is when you are learning to be a photographer, no matter what your genre is, is to be able to figure out the ability to accurately assess your own work and not be complacent,” explained the American, who quit American football to pursue a career in photography.
“If you are too hard on yourself, you won't grow. If you are too easy on yourself, you won't grow.
“You don't make pictures with your equipment. You make them with your heart, your eye, your mind and your soul.”
For Muhammad Shaari, a hobbyist photographer and a SEA Games volunteer photographer, the sharing session with Frakes was extremely informative for photographers like him and allowed them to address their queries with him.
“We got to ask questions that we had been yearning to know or were unsure of. It also allowed us as photographers to know what to look out for and improve our skills, whether we are professionals or doing this as a hobby,” said the customer service officer.
“The advice that will help me the most for shooting sports in general and which I apply in the upcoming SEA games would be a simple basic photography rule, the depth of field and framing of the photos which most photographers tend to forget about.”
Please click here to see some of Bill Frakes' works.