Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beyond the huddle

"Wide receiver Torrey Smith #82 of the Baltimore Ravens is hugged by teammate linebacker Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens after they defeated the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland."

There is more than meets the eye being apart of a team.

Growing up playing multiple sports I learned how to be a team player at an early age. I realized I performed better when I was around others who were passionate, driven and motivated like myself. But more importantly, how to foster relationships and lean on my teammates, day in and day out, which made me a better human-being.

It's a hard thing to explain to those who never played sports. A real unity is formed with those you work along side day and night. You're pushed to do your best, represent the team and do what's right for everyone. It's an inseparable bond that often lasts beyond the field.

I often say, I consider myself as a hard-worker. It all comes from sports and knowing how to work through challenges with teammates.

It's no different for professional athletes. They are also human, and face difficult obstacles in life - on and off the field. Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith is one of them. A tragic week for him and his family, he lost his younger brother to a motorcycle accident less than 24 hours before kick-off.

Yet he came out Sunday and put on a great performance. What was special for me though, was to document for the game for Getty Images, and witnessing the bond, real moment with teammate Ray Lewis post-game that showed his softer side.

I love seeing teammates caring for one another - even on their darkest days. It's also great to see that these superstars are apart of a brotherhood that goes beyond the game - that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tucker time

"Place kicker Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens is kissed on the head by teammate defensive tackle Arthur Jones #97 after Tucker kicked the game-winning field goal against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland."

Sometimes the game doesn't go your way.  Plays happen everywhere you're not, referees continually block great images and when you're about to get the shot in front of you, it goes the other direction.

The first half of the Sunday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens was going that way for me - not perfect. As the saying goes, the ball didn't bounce my way.

Luckily, we work to cover the games as a team at Getty Images, so lights-out photographer and all-around great guy, Rob Carr, took care of business of the action in front of him.

It's very much a mental game when nothing comes to your side of the field. But as time ticked off the clock late in the fourth quarter, it was looking like "Tucker Time."

With seconds left on the clock, Baltimore Ravens rookie place-kicker Justin Tucker booted a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give the Ravens a, 31-30, win in a rematch of the AFC championship game.

We covered the kick from behind and the side, and I took care of what I originally thought would be Ravens dejection (turned out to be jubilation), as Carr took the Pats walking off the field.

Sometimes the build up gets overshadowed by the end result - and as the final whistle sounds all you can do is look-back is knowing you gave it your best for the day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Victory splash

"Kevin Harvick, driver of the #33 Armour Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia."

Two weeks ago, I found myself back in Richmond covering NASCAR for the Getty Images team.

Typically there is more than one race a weekend, and Richmond was no different with a NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the Virginia 529, on Friday night.

I got lucky being able to roam for the Friday race. Normally we split the track, shooting up so that each of us is more or less in the same spot the entire race - which isn't a bad thing. Working together like that insures we document the full track with nothing missed.

But getting able to roam was really fun - my only task in writing for Friday was victory lane. So before walking all around the track, I decided to setup a remote in victory lane since I'd be in there anyways. I also put one up for Saturday's race, although a bit more tricky with linger rain showers - that's another story.

With the help of some fellow shooters and the track photographer, I had my remote up well before the driver's started their engines. As the first lap passed, I was standing high above the track. As each couple laps passed, I slowly worked my way down from the highest point to victory lane as the race finished - getting the awesome opportunity to see and shoot from all of the track in the process.

Luckily for me, victory lane celebrations were just as I remembered and the remote provided a different angle to he festivities. With the chase in full-swing, I am looking forward to Dover next weekend as that wraps up my NASCAR races for the year.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New era

"Quarterback Shane McGregor #2 of the Penn State Nittany Lions prays after losing to the Ohio University Bobcats at Beaver Stadium on September 1, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. The Ohio University Bobcats won, 24-14. After the teams first loss under the debut of head coach Bill O'Brien, McGregor tweeted, "Keep. The. Faith.""


Following my stint in Penn State covering the vibe of back to school in State College, Pa., I returned to Happy Valley later the same week for the first football game of the year.

Leading the Nittany Lions into their 2012 campaign, and coaching for the team for the first time since the Joe Paterno era in 1966, was Bill O'Brien.

The night before I shot a prayer vigil for victims of child abuse as well as a pep rally for the team. It was obvious that despite the campus being silent earlier in the week, the community's psyche was again being consumed by the news surrounding the child abuse scandal that has brought national media attention to former football coaches and men in power at Penn State.

The atmosphere surrounding the first game was anything but normal. The former spot of the Paterno statue was now nothing but a grassy hill and some trees, but that didn't stop fans from leaving things behind. Others joined hands nearby, and those in the parking lots adorned t-shirts boasting their feelings for the new era in Penn State football - positively and negativity.

My roll was to capture everything minus the action for Getty Images at the first game of the season. From afar and close, I trekked everywhere from the furthest parking lot, to in the stands with fans, right down to the end zone where I turned around to get one frame of action haphazardly as I walked by.

Hopefully these images gave the readers a glimpse inside the new era in Penn State football.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Look out

"Baltimore Orioles batter Adam Jones #10 loses his bat against the Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning during an MLB American League baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 24, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. Jones went 1-for-3 at bat in the Orioles, 6-4, win."

I've mentioned it before, but rarely do I shoot every single batter and every single pitch during a baseball game.

I'll make a stock image of each player at bat, but unless they're a franchise player, having a great day behind the plate, need the stock, or it's a key moment in the game, I just don't waste the frames unless instructed to do so.

With that, I've missed a share of broken bats and players getting beaned by pitches, only because I was anticipating the play in the field.

Recently, sitting inside the third base photo well, I almost took a shot from a bat for the first time. Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles lost control of his bat and instead of going down the baseline, it went directly over two other photographers and my own heads and into the crowd.

I don't think anyone was injured on the play, but looking through long glass at something like that doesn't give you anytime to react.

Despite losing his bat, the Orioles went on to win the game. I'm now looking forward to possibly getting to cover the team in their first playoffs appearance since 1997.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reed street

"Safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens closes his eyes during the national anthem on the sideline before taking on the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland."

Despite covering two pre-season NFL games, there is nothing better than the return of football after shooting baseball all summer.

And while the Baltimore Orioles are fighting to make their first MLB playoff appearance since 1997, the Baltimore Ravens began their NFL season with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals to bring even more sports excitement to Charm City.

I covered the game for Getty Images as the Cincinnati Bengals struggled to score on the Baltimore Ravens during a fast-paced Monday Night Football game.

The air was chilled, the fans were loud and the action was endless. It was also nice to document a little history as Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens scored a touchdown off of an interception that set a new NFL record of 1,497 career interception return yards.

In the end, the Baltimore Ravens won, 44-13, starting strong as their 2012-13 NFL campaign kicked-off.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Fighting to stay dry

"A security guard fights to put on a poncho as rain and wind delay the Toronto Blue Jays against Baltimore Orioles MLB American League baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, August 26, 2012. The game was postponed for a later date."

Every once in a while a baseball game is canceled.

It's usually not a bad thing because you get to head home a little early and do some other work. However, images still need to be made of the impending weather.

It can be a challenge to find something fresh during these rain delays. Fans typically take shelter, players hide in the clubhouse and umpires leave the field. Luckily a coat, some patience and a little bravery in the rain all lead to finding those off beat moments that communicate inclement weather.

Much like the game being axed, this image was killed before it even hit the wire, but I still liked it enough share. Here is to sunny games the rest of the season.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Leap frog with Jaguars

"Running back Bernard Pierce #30 of the Baltimore Ravens leaps over cornerback Kevin Rutland #22 of the Jacksonville Jaguars and as his teammate linebacker Julian Stanford #57 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on during the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on August 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 48-17."

Sports photography is as much a mental game as it is a physical game - much to the game itself for the athletes playing them.

The physical aspect of shooting a football game can be demanding, especially if there is bad weather. Running up and down the sidelines with 20-some-pounds of gear, only hoping to slide to your knees to get in front of the play before the next snap. Rinse, wash, repeat - it's a long game - despite being young or old.

Then there are the mental aspects of covering a sport. You're always looking for something different. Whether it's a feature or the right angle on a peak action frame - you're always thinking too much of your editors, the readers, the story, and your own take by playing the "what if" game. What if I was there on the field. What if I shot it with this lens, and the list goes on.

When covering a game alone, it's difficult to cover every big play and touchdown, and even though you're nearly perfect on documenting them all, the images are most of the times messy, cluttered and cropped heavily, if their not on your side of the field. You question your positioning, whether or not they're important to the overall story and if they resonate to readers.

In short, it's a constant juggle, battle. But sometimes you end up in the right spot on the field at the right time and have to be ready. Much like the above image of Bernard Pierce of the Baltimore Ravens leaping over a pair of Jaguar defenders.

Images like these are most times small victories that keep you plugging along in a long physically demanding day filled with head games. But in my mind, there is nothing better than a challenging day that keeps you on your toes and pushing yourself to be better.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The new Penn State

"A passerby walks past a mural near College Ave., on the campus of Penn State that features former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno on August 27, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania."


Earlier this week, I was back on the campus of Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania.

This trip, I was shooting a story through Getty Reportage for, for a story titled, "Forging a new meaning for the rally cry 'We Are...Penn State'" which can be read here.

My roll of the team was to capture the essence of the Penn State campus as students returned to classes following the a scandal that has damaged this school's reputation, brought unprecedented sanctions from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, jailed a former football coach for sex abuse, and prompted an ongoing investigation into allegations of a coverup by top officials.

I combed the campus and the surrounding areas for two days looking for everything and anything that visually told what has happened in the "Happy Valley" of State College.

A challenging assignment to say the least, I didn't want to make any repeat photographs that I'd made in many, many prior trips. I also didn't want to over shoot a certain angle, such as students returning to class.

I think the images fit the story told well. The article came out the day before kick-off in Penn State which debuted new head coach Bill O'Brien.