Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Open Road

"U.S. Paralympian Daniel Romanchuk trains on the road near his home on May 13, 2020 in Mount Airy, Maryland."

Prolific photographer Robert Capa once said, "If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough."

That's without a doubt true. There is something powerful about zooming with your feet to get closer to whomever is framed through your view finder. Making the viewer feel a sense of place and more connected to the moment.

However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I've been finding myself stepping back. Often way back.

It's not because of the health reasons. It's because the world most athletes are training in often is empty. The solitude is evident. They're training alone at home - or in the above case - unaccompanied on the road.

Daniel Romanchuk who competes primarily in wheelchair racing events, will represent the United States at the 2020 Summer Paralympics, which have been postponed until 2021. He should have been competing across the globe in an effort to prepare for the games.

But like all athletes across the globe, he is training in isolation under strict policies in place due to coronavirus.

Living in rural Maryland, it was easy to show that cast-away-like training routine. Because he's a competitor at heart, it doesn't matter if he's winning another major marathon in front of thousands or pushing himself on the open road alone - his goal is still a Paralympic gold medal.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Duck Diving

"Olympic hopeful and USA Swimming National Team member Phoebe Bacon (FRONT) trains with her brother Finn Bacon amid the coronavirus pandemic at a family friend's covered, 15-meter pool on April 28, 2020 in Potomac, Maryland. Phoebe Bacon, a high school senior and PanAmerican gold medalist, qualified for the U.S. Olympic swimming trials and is using the small-sized pool to continue to train in the water after COVID-19 closed pools. The U.S. trials and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed due the coronavirus, but that hasn't deterred athletes like Bacon from finding non-traditional ways of training."

Athletes and sport photographers alike don't like being in the current situation. But are certainly understanding of the pandemic as we all adapt to this abrupt change.

Because it's something no one could have ever predicted - as evidence of canceled and postponed events - athletes across the globe are now training in isolation under strict policies in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That is the case with Olympic hopeful and USA Swimming National Team member Phoebe Bacon.

Instead of training and preparing for the U.S. trials and Tokyo Olympics, she found herself training in a family friend's recreational 15-meter pool - rubber duck thermometers and all.

As comparison, 50-meter is the Olympic size and a 25-meter pool is something one might find at their gym.

It has been amazing to see, and visually document, the changes athletes are willing and needing to take to still train.

When it's safe to return to the competition fields, pools and other venues worldwide, everyone involved will have a new respect for sport as they look back at their historically different training routines and environments.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Lumber Jacked

"Adhering to Ohio's stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus outbreak, Zachary Skidmore bench presses as he lifts weights using his hand-made outdoor gym equipment on April 15, 2020 in Jackson, Ohio."

The coronavirus has shut down nearly every business - that includes gyms.

But that didn't stop Zachary Skidmore from constructing his own 'Lumber-Jacked Gym' entirely out of timber to help maintain his fitness during Ohio's stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Skidmore, a former U.S. Army police officer and part-time personal trainer, constructed his gym entirely out of timber over a two week period.

The seven station setup, which includes a cable fly machine, bench press, treadmill and leg press, was designed as a way to help him stay fit during the COVID-19 pandemic - which shut down his local gym - and landed him at his parent’s home for the quarantine.

An incredible sight to be seen - it's a view of how American's and those around the world are finding creative ways to stay fit and stay in shape during shelter in place.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak Halts Sports

"Sam Hess, Operations with Monumental Sports & Entertainment, skates alone prior Detroit Red Wings playing against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today the NHL announced is has suspended their season due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) with hopes of returning. The NHL currently joins the NBA, MLS, as well as, other sporting events and leagues around the world suspending play because of the coronavirus outbreak."

During the time of the this photo, there was a lot of unknown, and sadly there still is.

The day prior, the NBA abruptly postponed their season as the coronavirus outbreak reached the United States and the sporting world.

Other leagues, sports and event worldwide felt the ripple effect as nearly each and every one was postponed or canceled outright to insure safety to its players and fans alike.

These are extraordinary times we are living in. Scary, uncertain, tragic, with glimpses of hope. I can only hope as we all look back that this will be a time we all got through safely.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Blazing Bradley

"Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards drives in the lane past Cristiano Felicio #6 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Capital One Arena on February 11, 2020 in Washington, DC."

Often when I meet someone new, and the topic of career comes into play, they're always in someway intrigued about the profession.

It's like anything else though - many only see the great things. It's not even a matter of the grass is always greener; it's more or less seeing only the positives of a world they don't exist in.

While in no way I am saying I don't the business I am in, it's that we are often living in the same building or position for long weeks at a time. In some ways, it's like showing up to the same office space every day.

Thankfully we have the ability to try and break that mold every time we put the camera to our eyes. Sometimes it's a repeat of a prior game or year, other times it's completely new and fresh.

The above is something I try to spend a couple minutes every game doing. Some days it works, others it doesn't. But taking that risk to be different makes shooting the same teams in the same ecosystems enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Flagrant Foul

"Davis Bertans #42 of the Washington Wizards is fouled by Markieff Morris #8 of the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Capital One Arena on January 20, 2020 in Washington, DC."

When I played sports, especially near my later stages of my short career, the beginning of the season was always the biggest mental challenge.

It wasn't because I was out of shape or grinding through what seemed like endless practices before the games began. It was something totally different.

It was scoring the first goal.

Until the ball was put into the back of the net, the limitation of scoring seems like the hardest thing on the planet to achieve. Some seasons it took seconds, some years it took multiple games.

Photography is no different.

When the clock strikes midnight and the new year begins, the first few assignments can feel like a real challenge. You're comparing an entire years worth of work to only a few assignments into the year - as you try to make a great picture.

Twenty days into 2020, I feel some elation as a flagrant foul resulted in an interesting action picture to kick off the year.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Always Save the Beers

"While holding two Bud Light beer cans, baseball fan, Jeff Adams, is hit in the chest with the home run ball hit by Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros (not pictured) in the second inning during Game 5 of the 2019 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 27, 2019 in Washington, DC."

The saying goes "not all heroes wear capes" - and that slogan was used a lot following Game 5 of the World Series.

That's because Washington Nationals fan, Jeff Adams, decided to take one for the team. In this case, Bud Light in his attempt to 'Always Save the Beers.'

Instead of doing what any average baseball fan would do during one of the largest sporting events in the world would do - go for the World Series home run souvenir ball - he instead saved the beers.

An instant hero to many, not only did he save his double-fisted beers, but also got the ball. Well done.

Love the effort and certainly love these types of moments in sports that highlight more than just the players on the field.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Mud Mug

"Covered in mud, offensive guard Mike Person #68 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on after making a tackle on defensive back Troy Apke #30 of the Washington Redskins (not pictured) during the third quarter at FedExField on October 20, 2019 in Landover, Maryland."

The saying is weather makes pictures.

However, the problem is that viewers never really know what it's like to play and or photograph sports in weather.

It's great to watch a 'Mud Bowl' on television, but until you're soaking wet, one doesn't know what it really means to work in the elements for hours.

Thankfully the old adage is true. Mud, rain, snow, cold, heat - you name it - does help change the environments we often frequent. In this case, heavy rains drenched the natural grass field at FedExField making it a sloppy mess.

While play seemed slow because of mother nature, as the game progressed, conditions worsened.

That's when Mike Person of the San Francisco 49ers risked it all to make a tackle on a turnover - resulting in a warrior like mud mug.

Have to love the commitment of athletes willing to give it their all.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Defeated and Down

"Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts losing in game four of the National League Championship Series to the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 15, 2019 in Washington, DC."

One of the hardest things to do is to remember to turn around - literally.

In sport there is winning and losing. And everyone knows the latter will never be easy, nor fun. So when Washington Nationals won the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series, everyone knew it was historic.

The story was on the diamond and at the pitching mound. Pure excitement and jubilation. Conversely, news for the St. Louis Cardinals meant elimination.

Any, and every, photographer wants to point their lens toward victory. It's an innate reaction. But reality is that with every winner, there is a loser, and that story needs to be told, too.

For our clients, and for history, that loss is just a historic and telling as the win. Often that window of reaction happens much faster than the winners. So it was only a few frames before the moment was over, but sometimes that's all you need.

Best to everyone next season and those still playing.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Run, Jump, Throw...and Fans

"Fans in thawbs look on during day seven of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 03, 2019 in Doha, Qatar."

Sport is so often focused on the athletes. Their actions on and off the field. The big moments that define history.

But we often forget that fans play an important role in sport - and visually documenting them is imperative, too.

What I like is when a picture can give a sense of place. A lot of time images can feel repetitive. Golf is an example where play is in beautiful sunny weather - and everything is lush and green. Pictures can sometimes feel like 'anywhere in the world' without context.

During the halfway point of the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships, I wanted to try and show viewers where the running, jumping and throwing was occurring.

That was both difficult and easy. Simple in the sense that fans wearing the traditional thawb was easy to spot. But how to photograph them inside the venue was tough.

After finding a large group of men entering a portal, I followed them until I found the above.

A great sense of place for Doha, Qatar - during yet another thrilling world champs.