A Journalistic Approach to Sports Photography

Coach Stacy Perryman’s chair before the game night in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Coach Stacy Perryman’s chair before the game night in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Sports photography is all about capturing the action. Fast shutter speeds, wide open lenses, and lickety split frames per second rule the day. My routine to get ready for a game is pretty routine and often the same. Tonight, however, my routine was anything but same old.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Stroudsburg and Pocono Mountain West captains and coaches before Tip-Off in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Coach Stacy Perryman died of breast cancer this past Monday at the young age of 45. She has been the coach at Pocono Mountain West for 17 years! The team was allowed to grieve for the loss of their coach and the previous two games were postponed for this reason. Tonight they would take their place back on the court with heavy hearts.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

The Pocono Mountain West players and Interim Head Coach share a moment just before the Star Spangled Banner in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Interim Head Coach, Chrissy Campos, is Coach Perryman’s sister and has been her assistant coach. She did an incredible job tonight getting the girls ready to play a competitive game against a very good Stroudsburg team. They put their emotions in check for 32 minutes and played their hearts out.

Interim Head Coach Chrissy Campos accepts a memorial gift in honor of her sister, Coach Stacy Perryman in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Interim Head Coach Chrissy Campos accepts a memorial gift in honor of her sister, Coach Stacy Perryman in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Before Tip-Off, Coach Campos was presented with a memorial gift in memory of her sister and the girls’ coach. The few moments at mid-court were somber and respectful. Then everyone was invited to pause for a moment of silence as we remembered Coach Perryman.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Coach Campos receives a special gift in memory of her sister, Coach Perryman, at midcourt in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Sometimes I am asked to photograph Senior Day or a presentation of a student-athlete during halftime, but usually my job is simply to capture the game with my camera. I really enjoy this simple, straightforward task. One of my interests is setting up remote cameras, which I mentioned in my previous blog post last week. Tonight was different–totally different. How does one capture the heavy emotions and sadness in a tactful yet unintrusive way?

Interim Head Coach Chrissy Campos coaches the Panthers during the game in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Interim Head Coach Chrissy Campos coaches the Panthers during the game in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

As I began shooting the pre-game and then the game, my mind went back to my journalism training I received from Temple University many years ago. My professors were clear about the important job we had to do and getting into the right frame of mind to do it. Our job is to report the news, or in my case, report and re-tell the basketball game in its entirety with my camera.

Interim Coach Chrissy Campos greets Caroline Weirich during a timeout in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Interim Coach Chrissy Campos greets Caroline Weirich during a timeout in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

My mind also was swept up into what in the world these girls must have been thinking in their minds. How could they lace up their sneakers, take the home court, and play a basketball game with so much running through their minds but they really focus in sports like basketball or golf and as practice is important, using equipment as a home golf simulator could be really helpful to practice at home.

Samantha Columna is defended by Caroline Wierich in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Samantha Columna is defended by Caroline Wierich in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

They played in memory of Coach Perryman. Each moment was filled with effort and grit as they displayed all their coach had taught them over the years. It was incredible to watch and photograph. The heavy hearts did not bog them down on the court and they put up an awesome game!

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

A referee officiating at the Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West game, holds the ball during a timeout in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

The journalistic approach I am referring to here is trying to capture the story of the night, not just with the action on the court during the game, but specifically in the tiny moments that capture the whole essence of the night. In other words, trying to paint the picture of the wealth of emotions circling the gymnasium. Pink was the color of the night and that seemed a good place to start.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Some things happen during a timeout or during a break in the action. Sports photographers learn not to put the camera down too quickly after a shot or play but to follow the action and try to capture the emotion and celebrations. This was all in my mind tonight, too.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Try as they may, the game did not end the way Pocono Mountain West had hoped. They fought hard and kept things close even producing a nice run at the end of the game. Victory was not theirs tonight as they lost 50-40.

Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain West in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Pocono Mountain West’s Interim Head Coach, Stacy Campos, looks downcourt during the game in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Cancer is an opponent that seems to win way too often, leaving its opponents to lick their wounds or say goodbye to their loved ones. It is not fair. It is not fair for a young, gifted, and inspirational coach to die at the age of 45 leaving behind a team she loved and who loved her. It is not fair for a sister and assistant coach to be thrown into a coaching position rift with heartfelt emotions swirling around like a tornado. It is not fair for a community to lose someone so incredibly giving and to be left with nothing but memories.

Pink shoes worn by a Panther player during a foul shot in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Pink shoes worn by a Panther player during a foul shot in Pocono Summit on Friday, January 24, 2020.

Every game has winners and losers. Cancer does, too. Some battle courageously and live to see a long life to come. Others battle courageously and find their lives cut way too short. Winners and losers. Basketball teams experience this as well. Two teams can practice just as hard and dedicate a great portion of their lives to the game but one ends up winning it all while the other team is left hanging their heads wondering what happened. Tonight, however, at this game, I do not believe there were really any losers. Every player and coach was a winner in a bigger sense of the game and in life. It was an emotional game and I was fortunate to be there with my camera. This is my journalistic approach to one emotional and incredible game.

 

 

Basketball Portfolio Update

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I am in the midst of updating my basketball portfolio in preparation for the upcoming college basketball season. You can see my updated basketball portfolio here. I cover East Stroudsburg University sports and capturing the action on the court for the men’s and women’s games is awesome! I also shoot some high school games for The Pocono Record.

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These photos are from the past few years and I thoroughly enjoy the games from pre-game, to tip-off, to court action, to post-game. These athletes are amazing and always put an energetic game on the floor!

About a year-and-a-half ago, I attended the Summit Sports Photography Workshop in Denver, Colorado. It was an incredible event and I learned a lot. Here are some of the basketball photos I captured there.

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Exciting Game to Photograph & Pocono Mountain West Wins!

I was asked to photograph the Pocono Mountain West PIAA Class 6A Tournament Game against Lower Merion. It was an opportunity I very much looked forward to because this time of year is always exciting in terms of basketball. Add to this a thrilling game and you are in for one incredible evening! The game started at 5:30pm and, of course, started with the tip off.

The teams came in evenly matched and everything was set for the thriller. The game started methodically, as each team began by testing the other and exchanging basket for basket at first. Then, Lower Merion scored and went ahead a little. It was still a back and forth game.

Then Lower Merion scored two 3-point shots in a row. They were on a roll and they appeared to know it. Pocono Mountain West did not appear to blink. They took the momentum shift in stride and went to the locker room at half-time down by six points. While the fans might not have sensed it at the time, the players seemed to exude a “we got this” attitude. Confidence is key in a big game and the second half would certainly dictate the outcome of this tournament game.

It did not take Pocono Mountain West long to erase the six-point deficit as the second half began. There was some more exchanges like two heavyweight boxers going toe-to-toe, but West was clearly gaining momentum and confidence in the game.

 

Watching this team work together on defense was one of the keys to the turnaround in the second half. Patience and persistence was paying off slowly but surely. Lower Merion was slowing the pace all game long. At fist, this seemed to frustrate the Panthers. The second half was a different story. They challenged the ball-handlers, forced some turnovers, and kept the opposing offense out of the paint. It was a strategy that worked to perfection.

The final score was 71-57 and showed how Pocono West not only weathered the storm but played confidently throughout the game and capped it with a strong finish. What a game and what a night for this talented basketball team! Congratulations, Pocono Mountain West!

When You Know You’re Doing Something Right



Most of us go about our work from day to day not knowing the affect we might be having on others. I always had a goal of wanting to make a difference, but quite often this is very difficult to gauge and evaluate. I oftentimes joke that I much prefer to cut the grass in my lawn than working because at least when I am mowing I can see the progress. You know, there is is truth in jest!

Compliments are rare in the workplace it seems to me these days. Attaboys and attagirls are not often heard from most bosses or employers. Our parents worked for more loyal companies who appreciated their work forces and even told them so. Worker loyalty was returned. Nowadays many of us will have two or three different jobs at a minimum.

So, how do we know when we’re doing something right? I remember an episode of NCIS when Probie Tim McGee did something right and his boss just gave him a stare. McGee’s partner said, “That look is the closest thing you’re gonna get to a compliment, Probie.” Knowing we are appreciated for the work we do seems to be a rare luxury these days. When we receive a compliment we should file it away in our memory banks or in our files for safe-keeping and archiving.

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I remember one place I worked where a colleague shared a great idea with me. She kept a “Pick Me Up” file. I had never heard anything like this before so I asked for more clarity. She explained that each and every time she receives a compliment–an email or thank you note, etc., she filed it in her Pick Me Up file. Then, on those days when she needed some encouragement, she would pull that file and read some of the contents. I’ve kept such a file ever since that day.



Here are just two examples from editors that I have in my file:

“First, thanks for the tremendous art. The photos are dynamite and we’re very pleased with the composition, timely delivery and quality of the shots. Particularly liked the shot to the helmet from today! Wow!”

Chris Mele, Editor
Pocono Record
2012

 


“Hi Bob, I’m glad that the new contract was approved and delivered.  The quality of your work is exceptional and is a great benefit for us and our student-athletes.  Also glad that you’ll be able to get to Denver for some additional seminars and ideas for how to shoot! 
Hope you have a great summer, and look forward to continuing to use your great shots!”

Greg Knowlden, Sports Information Director
East Stroudsburg University
2016

I sometimes look at these two notes and just know I was doing something right at least two times in my life!

 

My Next Step in the Wonderful World of Sports Photography

My journey through sports photography as been incredible. I started seriously about eight years ago with a goal of staying involved in sports. Previously, I was a coach. I coached pee wee football and Little League baseball, and then I also coached Middle School football. I love sports! I played football in high school and learned the love of sport from my dad many years ago. I stopped coaching primarily because I did not want to be that dad who could not let go of his own son. Besides, my son, James, already knew more about baseball than I did, so I knew he needed better coaches to help him advance when he was twelve. I still miss coaching to this day. However, I decided at that moment to pick up my camera and utilize my knowledge of the games to try and capture the games with my camera.

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I was fortunate to have great training in my college days at Temple University. I even did a sports photography project as my final for our obligatory photo class. I believe the images I captured saved my grade. However, I would not re-discover this love of shooting sports until much later. Now, with coaching behind me, I became an amateur sports photographer. I started with our local high school baseball team, photographing their games, providing a slideshow of my action shots at their banquet, and creating photo collages for their seniors each year. This was a great learning experience for me and the head coach was very supportive. One of my photographs drew the attention of our local newspaper and they ran the image the next day along with the image their staff photographer submitted from the game. This was my first big breakthrough. Then a few weeks later, the newspaper’s photographer who was assigned to the high school championship baseball game was involved in a car accident when someone hit her. She could not cover the game, so they asked me. Amazingly, the underdog upset the favored team and my image took up over half the front page of the sports section the next day! This was another very fortunate break-through and now my endeavors into sports photography began to take off.

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I began to cover many high school football games for the newspaper, which I enjoy immensely! Just standing by the sidelines or beyond the endzone takes me back to my high school days when I played football. There is just something mighty special about Friday nights! In my work with the newspaper, I was asked one season to cover several of the local Division II college football games. I was thrilled to do so and quickly realized how much faster these games are compared to what I covered before as a sports photographer. The day after each game, the paper ran an image or two and I kept slowly progressing.



The following year I received a call on my cell phone from the university’s Sports Information Director asking if I would be interested in photographing three of their football games as a freelance sports photographer. Interested? Wild horses could not keep me away from this exciting opportunity! Right after covering these three games, I was offered a contract by the university to work with them covering all their sports. Amazing!

at Koehler Fieldhouse in East Stroudsburg on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

Most recently, I approached a Women’s Golf publication to see if they might be interested in any of my work. As I said previously, I love sports. We worked out an agreement and now some of my golf photos are seeing the light of day, too. I learned a whole lot over the years and I am still learning something new every day. So, what is the next step in the wonderful world of sports photography for me? Well, I know I need to keep improving and learn more about how to consistently capture stunning and breath-taking photographs during each game. I also know I need to learn much more about the sports photography industry. So, I decided to sign up for the Summit Sports Photography Workshop in Denver, Colorado. I heard about this workshop before but a recent connection with Dave Black helped me bite the bullet and sign up. I am very excited to be taking this next step and it seems like the next logical step for me. As an added bonus, I decided to visit Yellowstone for the first time in my life for a week-and-a-half after the workshop. I am blessed to be doing what I am doing in sports photography. I am staying involved in sports and having the time of my life! One of the unexpected benefits of all this is meeting so many wonderful and interesting people. I can honestly say that my life is much richer and more fulfilling through these connections. Editors, coaches, players, athletic directors, media personnel, fellow photographers and so many more have blessed me. I have no idea where the next opportunity or twist will take me in sports photography, but I cannot wait to find out!

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The Importance of Keywording

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I know, it’s a pain. You get finished with a long shoot and then completely edit the photos for submission. So who has the time or energy to sit there and enter keywords into all the photos?

I learned the importance of captioning photos through working as a freelance photographer with The Pocono Record. Editors need to know exactly who the players are in the photos and a brief description of what is happening. Captions are important!

Keywords are important, too!

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This past week I was asked to submit some sports photos I captured back in 2013 and 2009. They needed to be full resolution images, so I could not just send the images that were in my portfolio because they were not large enough. Fortunately, I have a strategy to keep the original names of my photos wherever I use them–galleries, portfolios, etc. This is extremely helpful when I have to backtrack and locate an image that someone saw on my website. As long as I have the original name, I can go into my database and locate the original file, make any necessary corrections, and then export the file in the size needed for my client.

Keywords can help locate photos more quickly. For example, if I had all my photos of Juli Inkster keyworded with her name, then I could find any photo of her in my database very quickly. My problem is, I get too busy and forget or ignore this necessary step. Then, like yesterday, I was forced to go through tons of photos to find the exact one I am looking to locate. Geez, I wish I added keywords when I added these photos to my database!

What about you? Can you quickly and efficiently locate photos on request? What strategies do you utilize to assist you? Do you realize the importance of adding keywords to your images?

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I Love Football!

2015-08-30 ESU WebsiteLast week I attended the Penn State football game in State College. The Nittany Lions were hosting the Buffalo Bulls for the second game of the new season. I used to buy Manchester United football tickets from Ticket4Football.com and this time I also bought tickets there. I took my good friend and former football coach, Al Van Houten. We met my brother and my son for the pre-game activities and we visited some other friends in the RV tailgate area. Then it was game time! There is nothing quite like college football on a Saturday afternoon!

Just two days before the game I received a call from the Sports Information Director, Greg Knowlden, at East Stroudsburg University asking if I could photograph some of their football games this year. Yeah?! Of course! The only thing better for me than watching college football on a Saturday afternoon as a fan is photographing the game down on the field! So this Saturday I will be on the Eiler-Martin Stadium field to photograph the ESU game.

I covered one game last year for ESU and a few of my photos were published on their website and in the local newspaper, The Pocono Record. However, as I was doing my research before this weekend’s game, I discovered that one of my photos is featured on the 2015 East Stroudsburg University Football Media Guide! (You can see the cover below and my photo is in the upper left.) This photo was also featured in the local newspaper’s pre-season football issue.

Did I say I love football? Well, I do, don’t you?

2015 ESU FB Media Guide

 

Pleasant Valley Graduation

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Pleasant Valley held their 2014 Graduation on Friday night. The weather was threatening and produced some heavy rain, so the Commencement was held indoors in the high school gym which they decorated with table and chair covers so everything was perfect on this event. Parents, grandparents, and friends gathered to watch the special event as the seniors graduated.

I was there on assignment as a stringer for the Pocono Record. It was special for me because I know a lot of these students. After all, I photographed many of them in their sporting events over the past years!

You can view more photos of PV’s Graduation here.

Pleasant Valley Advances in PIAA District 11 Softball Playoffs

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The Pleasant Valley Bears Softball Team continued their destiny this season sparked by a dramatic grand slam by Madison Shaneberger in the bottom of the sixth inning. PV was trailing Freedom 4-1 going into their half of the sixth inning but they did not give up nor would they be denied. Shaneberger connected on the second pitch of her at-bat and drove the ball deep and over the fence in left-center field where the PV football team was cheering for the Lady Bears.

Both of these photographs were published in today’s Pocono Record and accompanied a story about the exciting game written by Joe Miegoc.

Crystal Morales slides across home plate for the first run in the game…

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Hit by Pitch – in Softball & Baseball!

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Do these two photographs look similar? They were published in the Pocono Record about one year apart.

Both batters were hit by an inside pitch that completely knocked their helmet off their head! It was a scary moment in each game, but both players were able to stay in the game, none too much for the wear.

Softball and baseball can be a scary game at times, but these athletes take it all in stride. They expect a lot of themselves and put some incredible talent between the lines at every game. Our hats should be off to them (seriously!).

Here is the sequence of photos from each batter getting hit by the pitch:

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