In 2009 on the Boulevard of the Allies I was a clueless college student who snuck onto the parade route for the Penguins without a credential. I think the best photo I made that day was of the great Dan Potash pouring champagne on his head. That photo is the reason we became friends in the first place.
I’m still mostly clueless but on Wednesday I was really able to enjoy the party downtown this time around. A lot of games, practices, and press conferences. Many drives to the east coast and flights cross-country. Too many nights in a hotel to count.
Parades are quite the workout though. You’d better be in good shape if you ever plan on doing one. It’s like running the final mile in the Pittsburgh Marathon. Except you’re doing it while going backwards. With your head on a swivel. Pushing your way through a scrum of other media. And dodging giant piles of horse manure left behind by the police escort. Oh, and making sure your stuff in in focus, too!
It’s obviously my job to photograph what happens, win or lose, but man is it way more fun covering a championship parade and subsequent meetings with the Stanley Cup than having your last images being that of players cleaning out their lockers.
No one prefers to be a part of documenting anything negative so it does feel nice to be ‘rewarded’ a bit with these joyful celebrations. They certainly breathe a little bit of life into everyone following such a grueling playoff run.
And I did still make an image of Potash this year, sans champagne.
I’ll leave you with my favorite images below but should you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them below in the comments section. And now officially begins baseball season…
P.S. And yes, since I know this question will come up and already has, this was a public event, so prints ARE available for anyone wishing to hang these moments on up on your wall: http://bit.ly/1V9VXu7
Action is always the first thing that comes to mind when people think of sports photographs. Some games have more peak, athletic moments than others but emotion will always be there regardless of the level (high school, college, professional, etc) so don’t forget that there is always a story to tell on both sides of the ball. Just like you learned in grade school that you need a beginning, middle, and end to your writing, the same goes for your images. The game always fluctuates so keep that in mind and show that as well. It’s not always easy keeping things fresh when you’re shooting the same venue game after game, year after year, but trying different techniques and vantage points can help keep things from being stale and looking the same. The winners typically make for the easier photos to be made because the moments belonging to them are very obvious and loud. However, it’s important not to forget those who lost because those moments will be much more quiet and fleeting.
Some of the storylines for this past Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers game was the return of Ben Roethlisberger from injury, the loss of star running back Le’Veon Bell to injury mid-game, and the Bengals quest to continue their unbeaten season.
Here are some of my images from Sunday that hopefully lend themselves to the headlines.
10 days ago I had the pleasure and honor of following around THE Ohio State marching band as they practiced for their big half show across the pond at the Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars NFL game in London. I say it over and over again but this really is an incredible job that I continue to pursue where I get to witness the behind-the-scenes moments that most people never get to see.
So of course I owe a huge thank you to director Chris Hoch and the 225 members of the marching band for allowing me to invade their space and document their hard work and dedication for a couple of days at Ohio Stadium. A big thanks goes to Corey Sipkin at the New York Daily News for recommending me for the assignment. Kevin Armstrong is one of the best sports writers I’ve had the pleasure of working with as well. And of course, one of the best resources for this assignment came from friend and drum major, Konner Barr.
To be given the creative freedom and access that I had for the two days was wonderful and hopefully I was able to showcase the immense scale and uniformity but also the skillful individuality that ‘the best damn band in the land’ possesses.
Don’t take any assignment for granted. For anyone to allow a complete stranger with a camera into their lives to take up any amount of their precious time is something to be appreciated.
The National League Wild Card matchup between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs was not-so-wild following a complete game shutout by Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. With the way Arrieta has pitched this season, particularly in the last month of the regular season, not even a trip back to the future with Marty McFly could’ve helped the Pirates. S0metimes there are forces that even a former NL MVP and Pittsburgh’s consistently incredible pitcher, Gerrit Cole, could stop and this could easily be the postseason that many Cubs fans have looked forward to for many years.
Either way, I was privileged to again witness and document history at PNC Park as the game hosted the largest crowd ever recorded at the stadium in its 15-year history.
And just like those players who are forced to pack up their locker rooms and regroup for next season, soon enough comes the same time of the year for myself to evaluate the year and make any necessary changes. Learning from previous endeavors is a huge part of the never-ending goal of constantly improving both on my skills as a photojournalist and how I can become a better person.
With that, I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes from former MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti:
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
It may have just been preseason for the Steelers but it was great to get back to shooting some football this past Labor Day weekend, wrapping it up on Saturday with the first games (and wins) for the Pitt Panthers and the West Virginia Mountaineers.
And just like the players and referees who need some practice getting back into the swing of things, the same goes for every photographers no matter how many seasons you’ve been covering a particular sport or team.
One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is not to overthink how you cover a game. Over the span of a season you’ll get a feel for the team’s tendencies (i.e. Do they pass or run a lot? Deep routes and short 5-10 yard gains?). There are so many analytics websites out there that you could just as easily look at a chart and determine it that way as well. But going with your gut on where to best position yourself based on different variables will more than likely yield the best results. Reading up on your local teams can also give you more detailed information and befriending those same writers can go a long way in being a step ahead on the news that might develop and your images getting more play. Of course you will always miss something as you can’t possibly be in perfect position for every big play. However, always take into consideration how much time is left, what kind of weapons a team may have, etc. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and go with your gut instinct because I think the saying will almost always be true: ‘Go where everyone else isn’t.’ It just might pay off for you.