Monday, June 3, 2013

Shooting As A Hired Gun

 I'm wasted. This was a looooong weekend of baseball. Between noon on Friday and yesterday evening I photographed almost 45 innings of baseball (on Friday, I only shot a few innings of FSU's game against Savannah State as the game was not an official assignment and I was shooting just for grins). It wasn't just 45 innings of baseball, it was 45 innings in +90 degree heat, a lot of it in the unshaded midday sun, and +95% humidity.

But I had to suck it up because I had a job to do. On Friday and Sunday, my job was to shoot for Troy University as the team made its way through the NCAA Baseball Regional tournament in Tallahassee. As long as I did not have a Florida State University assigned game to shoot, I was free to shoot for any of the other schools taking part in the tournament. The Sports Information Director for Troy's baseball team had contacted me before the Regional and asked if I was available to shoot for them. I was assigned to shoot FSU's Saturday game, so I could not shoot for them on Saturday as there was a chance that the two teams might be playing each other (and that'e exactly what ended up happening - Troy v FSU in the Saturday Winner's Bracket game). But I was available for them on Friday and Sunday so it was game on for them on those days.

I shot Troy's Friday noon game against Alabama (Troy won 5-2) and then was back out there in Sunday for their noon loser's bracket game against Alabama. Troy staged an amazing bottom of the ninth, 4 runs down, two out rally to score 5 runs and defeat Alabama 9-8 for their second win against their in-state rival. The win meant Troy would play a second game on Sunday - the Championship game against FSU - at 5:00 pm. That meant two games on Sunday for me and Troy. I was out there from 11:00 am until 9:00 pm. Loooooong day.

But I'm not writing this to elicit sympathy as I sit here on Monday morning, mega-dehydrated and scorched from sitting in the sun for three days. The point of this post is to give you some insight into how I approach the task of shooting for other teams when I am a hired gun for another school. It's simple. Simply stated, I make it a point to shoot for them exactly as I would if I were shooting for FSU.

Take a look at the two images above. One was shot for Troy on Friday, the other for FSU on Saturday. Two artsy fartsy shots of some baseball gear, one for each school with some Photoshop manipulation to create something out of the ordinary in terms of sports images. As part of my role as a sports photographer for FSU, I always make it a point to supplement action images with pageantry, art and other non-action images that can be used for marketing, web site, and/or media guides, and I try to use my bag of Photoshop tricks to create unique images. When shooting for other teams, I treat them no differently. Ergo, an artsy fartsy, grunged up baseball gear shot for Troy, another for FSU.

Pre-game activities are no different. The first two images above memorialize the Troy team during the National Anthem with the scoreboard in the background. The second caught the coaches' handshake after exchanging lineup cards. Ditto for the FSU game - National Anthem and coaches' handshake. These are images I consider must-get for something like a baseball Regional to memorialize the event and I made sure to get them for each team.

Action shots? Going clockwise above: Troy player sliding safely into home; Troy player diving back to first base on an attempted pick off; Troy batter ripping a pitch for a base hit; and Troy pitcher.

 For FSU? Virtually the identical kinds of shots as the opportunities presented themselves. It made no difference who I was shooting for, I was trying to get the same level of action images.

What about celebrations after scoring a run? Oh ye of little faith. Troy on the left, FSU on the right.

I hope you can see that it made no difference to me who I was shooting for. There are several reasons I make a concerted effort to provide the same level of images to clients and make no distinction between a client I shoot for regularly or one for whom I may never shoot again. For starters, it's a matter of pride. Despite my limited photography skills, I want to provide any client with the best possible Images I'm capable of producing. In addition, I want all my clients to feel like they got their money's worth when they go through my images and I especially don't want an out of town client to feel like I just mailed it in and didn't give them my best effort.

Last but not least, one never knows whether someday, that baseball Sports Information Director for Troy might end up as the Media Relations guy for the Indy 500, or the U.S. Open, or the NFL. If I give him my very best effort and the images are something that he recognizes as solid and professional, were he ever to be in a position that would open new doors for me, it's always nice to be remembered as someone who was capable, dependable and professional.

I give every one my best effort and I know it may one day be paid forward. Hopefully, the Troy SID will feel that way about my work. Even if he doesn't, I know that I did the best I could, and after all, that's all we can hope to do.

Now, excuse me while I go drink a gallon of water.

1 comment:

Brian B said...

Really enjoyed the post, Mike and I totally agree with providing the "other" team with the best quality shots you can. Thanks for sharing your insights and experience. I always learn something from you whether on video, through images or your narratives.