Monday, July 30, 2012

Shocked by sanctions

"Penn State students and others react to the sanctions the NCAA announced against Penn State in the HUB on the campus of Penn State on July 23, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania."

Last week, shortly after the Joe Paterno statue came down in Penn State, the NCAA announced as an outcome of the university's mishandling of the allegations of child-sexual abuse by former coach Jerry Sandusky, there would "corrective and punitive measures" for Penn State.

As I mentioned in my last post, reactions in the community, and on campus, were going to be the most compelling.

With the announcements coming on Monday morning, I thought of the best places students, and possibly players, may react. At the time, no one knew the severity of sanctions coming, and talk of the death penalty to the football program continued to rumor.

The once home to the now gone Paterno statue seemed like the best spot, if any, but I needed something else. Football players and coaches reactions would be perfect, but that was obviously not going to happen. Thanks to Twitter, I caught wind that students were meeting at the student center on the campus of Penn State.

Running close to announcement time because of my indecisiveness at the moment, I parked on the main street and ran up to the HUB to plop in front of a good number of students watching ESPN on the large big screens.

Trying hard to focus on reactions, I only somewhat heard all of the sanctions, including: Penn State being fined $60 million, barred from postseason games for four years, and lost 20 total scholarships annually for four seasons.

But it was the last one I heard clearly and documented jaws literally drop - Penn State was stripped of all its football wins from 1998 through 2011, vacating Paterno's once-record 409 victories, dropping him on the list of most winning coaches ever, to number twelve.

The news obviously continued to take an emotional toll on the Penn State community.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All falls down

"A man stares at the site in which the statue of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno stood sits empty after it was removed by workers outside Beaver Stadium on July 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania."

The ever unfolding story at Penn State continued this weekend.

As I heard news of the statue coming down early Sunday morning, I began making the journey north to continue to document the story for Getty Images. Knowing I'd already missed the falling of the statue, I felt community reactions would be more powerful images.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson announced the decision around 6:15 a.m., calling the statue "a source of division and an obstacle to healing."

The bronze Paterno statue was one of the most symbolic pieces of Paterno imagery on campus, and with that gone, it was the end of it all in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal - for now.

While in my mind this was the end symbolically, I still know this story will be on-going throughout the remainder of this year, and possibly beyond, and should bring important pieces of this story forward.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Babyfaces and heels

"Wrestling superstar, Jeff Hardy (left) soars off the top rope into Mr. Anderson (right) during an TNA Impact Wrestling's BaseBrawl event at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., Friday, July 20, 2012. Hardy won the match."

Last week, I found myself covering a professional wrestling, or as I've been told in the past to call it, sports entertainment.

I was called by The Baltimore Sun to document the TNA Impact Wrestling's BaseBrawl at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md.

In the past, I did a story on a underground sports entertainer which was a lot of fun since it was much more low key and I had full-access.

While this event was exciting, outdoors, and for the most part relaxed, I was limited to where I could roam. There was no back-stage access, the light was poor and the backgrounds were messy, too. In other words, not ideal shooting conditions.

But I didn't let that stop me from having a good time photographing the couple of matches I was able to fit in before deadline.

These guys (and girls) are some tough athletes despite the soap opera type of storyline - an event where the microphone is just as important as the high-rope drop kicks. One cannot deny these are tough performers and put their bodies on the line night in and night out.

I wasn't going to share these, but I thought it was fitting with WWE's 'Monday Night Raw' 1,000th episode this past week (read about it in USA Today). Pretty amazing considering as a kid I was a wrestling fanatic.

Maybe this post should be a shout out to my friends I grew up with reenacting matches on outdoor trampolines and playing countless hours of NWO Vs. WCW Revenge.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mr. Tony

"Tony Divers, otherwise known as Mr. Tony, holds one of his pigeons out back of his Station North home in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, May 25, 2012. Divers is a lifelong resident of the neighborhood and raises dozens of pigeons."

Sometimes being observant of the neighborhood you're in is all it takes to sniff out a good story.

Recently, I was sent to Station North, a small neighborhood in Baltimore, to cover a street art project. The project transformed a typical area into a walking art museum that boasted building-side graphic wheat paste murals.

As I strolled around the block, a neighborhood I typically wouldn't walk on foot, I found myself more attracted to the locals than the art. While the art caught my eye, it was all about being in a foreign part of town close to home.

However, one building kept catching my eye. It was of a man with a great face. Little did I know, I'd soon meet that man.

While in a man-lift shooting a portrait of the organizers and main artists for my client, I saw some pigeons circling uniformly. I asked to whom the birds belonged to. "Mr. Tony - he is the face on the wall down the street," one of the artists told me.

I made it my mission to find Mr. Tony. With some help of some of his neighbors, we linked up and he introduced me to some of his birds. A great man, Mr. Tony was happy to share his time with me.

While I have many images of him, a small story worth, I kept coming back to his frame. I think it speaks volumes of him. Mr. Tony just one of the many amazing characters here in Baltimore that I never knew about.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One in the crowd

"President Barack Obama drinks a beer as he sits with his wife and First Lady Michelle, daughter Malia, and Vice President Joe Biden, as the US Senior Men's National Team and Brazil play during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game at the Verizon Center on July 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. The US Senior Men's National Team won."

Playing catch up here on the blog. I've been on the road quite a bit for fun and business, so I am trying to get back to where I left off.

On Monday, I was called to shoot the US Senior Men's National Team play Brazil in a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game for Getty Images. Little did I know it would turn into a longer day than planned as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were also scheduled to appear.

Their court-side seats made for tight security and unexpected logistics - a bit more hectic than originally planned for all. Floor space was limited and there were many restrictions I wasn't expecting.

But as we do daily as photojournalists, I made do with what I was dealt. The craziness of the day made me miss the spontaneity of news that I often don't get to experience as often in sports.

I must note, it was also humbling sitting next to some of the elite Washington political photographers, many whom said they hadn't shot a basketball game in years, if ever. Makes you appreciate all they've covered in the world that much more.

With that, good luck to all in London. Should be a good show for the Olympics.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Batting 120

"Washington Nationals batter Bryce Harper waits to hit against the Baltimore Orioles as he stands on deck in the first inning during an MLB interleague baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, June 24, 2012."

Ever since moving back east, I continually find weird things packed in odd places.

Recently, I found some old, expired, 120 film. Feeling like I've been in a baseball slump, where my images are beginning to look the same no matter what, I decided to take the Holga off the shelf and play with it at the Nationals against Orioles series.

I assume if you're reading, you know what a Holga is. If not, it's a plastic toy camera. Its quirks and charm come from images being blurry, fuzzy and weird looking. There is no adjusting the camera - simply point, shoot, advance the film, repeat.

Ironically, iPhone apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic can give your digital cell phone pictures the same look and feel. And I certainly like playing around with those apps to produce cutting room floor type of images while on assignment. I even posted some earlier this year here.

But I have to admit, although Instagram is fun, getting back a pair of 120 rolls from my Holga totally made my night.

These sequential pair of images of Bryce Harper aren't anything speical, but it's the process of shooting blindly, patiently waiting and later see what comes of the film makes it all worth it in the end. Without a doubt, I'll be shooting some more film this year.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Perfect, once

"Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starting pitcher Jered Weaver #36 has a quiet moment before playing the Baltimore Orioles during their MLB American League baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, June 27, 2012."

My June was anything but quiet. On the road most of the month, it was nice to finish out the last week in the photo wells at Camden Yards shooting some more baseball.

Always inspired by quiet moments in sports, I couldn't help myself with this frame of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starting pitcher Jered Weaver.

It's funny. Not the frame, but my taste in photojournalism changes a lot. I know a lot of photographers work, more than I care to admit, sometimes I cannot stand their work, a week later I think it's the greatest inspiration. Not sure why. But I'm easily inspired by all photographers - famous or not.

Of recent, I've been really into the work of sports photography icon Walter Iooss - probably for the one-hundredth time. Maybe it's his vision away from the action in his baseball images, but it always has remembering to look into the dugout and on-deck.

The year is halfway over and its been fun, busy one. Looking forward to finishing out the rest of the year searching for the next quiet moment, loud crashing action, graphic feature, and compelling news image.