Adventures in sports photography.
I find it fitting that my first article on this site is about a type of photography that I never really thought about doing. I have been “into” photography for the better part of 15 years. Borrowing my dad’s camera, and then inheriting it when he died, really had sparked an interest I never knew I had.
Flash forward about 10 years and I found myself in a camera club, buying a second generation dSLR (Nikon d50), and finally in a place of enough frustration to push me to get better at it. Photography for me had the same passion as an on again off again relationship. Constantly frustrated by the quality of what I was doing combined with a very strong desire to master it.
Just over this last year, I’ve found myself in that place. The place where I knew what to do and how to do it, but not really knowing what I wanted to do with it. I can do just about anything, photographically. I can do portraits, weddings, families, kids, fine art, you name it, I’ve not only tried it, but pushed myself to continuously get better at those things. I never master anything. Mastery is a level you reach when you get bored and want to quit. In any profession, you can never master it. Someone is always better than you, and you can always be better than yourself.
While in that mode of “where do I go from here?” I tried to find areas that interest me. Maybe I should try to capitalize on what I can do? As I thought of all the various types of photography and what I enjoy the most, the one thing I landed on never even crossed my mind. Who would have guessed that I would start doing sports photography?
A quick and simple conversation with a friend on Facebook turned into a couple of major revelations for me. One is that my friend didn’t even know I was into photography. If he didn’t know, it’s time for me to advertise that fact a whole lot more. The second revelation came a couple days later after he introduced me to the owners of the S.E. Michigan Mercenaries. They are a semi-pro football team based out of Mt. Clemens, Michigan. I just showed up when he told me to. I took pictures of the guys practicing. I had fun. I had more fun than I had in a very long time of shooting, and I love shooting. This was my second revelation, my place, and my home with my camera.
I like sports, but I never really followed any one particular sport other than the NFL, and that was just for fantasy football reasons. But I absolutely love taking pictures of athletes.
At first it was pretty difficult. Just watching a football game and photographing it are two different beasts. Not only do you have to watch the ball, but you have to watch what is happening around the field. The little shoving match after the play, the celebratory chest bump, the back flip in the end zone, it all matters. Being a spectator, you can miss those things, but being the photographer, you can’t. I am trying to learn how to not miss those shots. Shots like the one hit that took out Mercenaries quarterback out of the rest of the game.
I’m hoping that I get more opportunities for things like this. I’m open to all sports, but football seems to fall in my lap, mostly because of my friend Scott at Big Dog Media TV. The more opportunities I get, the better I become. Skills learned while photographing football and their players have already started to translate into portraits and commercial design work.
While I think I’ve found my place, I think I’ve started a new adventure.