It seems as if this time of year everyone is compiling a list of their favorite photos of the year. I like the idea of seeing what you have done. This year has been an amazing year as far as my sports photography goes. I really have been blessed this year, and this list will show that a bit. Some of the pictures on the list might not be the most technically brilliant that I have taken, but they do represent a major moment of the year. I have come a long way in a short time with my sports photography. I can’t help but think that this list will be even better next year.
1.) This might be the most important photo that I took this year. I had made many pictures already during the year for Purdue, but I had yet to make a picture on the football field. I had already shot a Wabash College game during the day, but on a lark I bought a ticket to go into the game. At the window the girl looked at me like I was crazy when I made my seat request. With many available seats below me I wanted a specific seat. My $70 gamble paid off, and I made this image of the Purdue team taking the field with the sun going down in the background. In my mind I had hoped that the sky would have been much more colorful, but you can only make a picture of what is laid in front of you. This picture quickly went viral. I soon had a pass to shoot Purdue the rest of the season. I have had a few pictures go viral, but this picture has to be one of my most popular to date.
2.) If there is a picture to rival the popularity of the picture above it might be this one. Just for fun one night I went out to the Purdue Athletic Complex west of the campus. One of the fall series baseball games was in progress along with a soccer game. I was trying out the 5D Mark III for the second time. I really wanted to try the multi exposure function on the camera. The first pitcher for Purdue was not very good to try this technique on. The next pitcher was Tim McElroy. He had a great motion to try it on, and I think that it worked very well. I posted it as a photo of the day without thinking much more of it. It was an experiment gone right. I soon realized that my picture was getting many views. After a little digging I realized that it had made it onto the Big Ten Network’s website as a picture to go and see. Sometimes a little experiment can pay off.
3.) It is funny how things work. I spent the beginning of the year following the Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls around as their team photographer. I had a blast making pictures of these women as they did their thing. On the season opening bus trip I made the connection that got me a pass to shoot Purdue baseball. It was this connection that led to many of the pictures that you see here. There was no money involved for shooting roller derby. It really is a labor of love by all involved. The women spend the year training their bodies for the bouts, but they also have the task of making sure that the bouts happen. They plan and prepare everything. It really is amazing what they do. Most people on the outside would think that derby girls are ultra tough. It takes a lot of strength to do what they do, but they are human just like anyone else. I love this picture because it shows the emotion that the team goes through when a member has to leave. It has been a couple of months since I las shot derby, and I cannot wait until the season starts up again next year.
4.) Over the years I have shot many basketball games from the stands. I had never shot a college basketball game from the floor though. My experience at floor level was limited to a handful of high school games. During my first basketball game of the year I made this picture of Purdue player Rapheal Davis finishing a slam dunk. The picture was picked to be the banner image for Purduesports.com for the game. This was a great way to show myself that I could do it. I have taken some pictures that I like more since that first game, but it was this success that helped build my confidence.
5.) This year I shot nearly every Purdue baseball game. I was given a pass, and I enjoyed shooting my favorite sport as much as I could. Many people do not like shooting baseball, but it is a blast for me. They say that the game is slow. That is what makes moments like the one above so interesting to me. The player and the ball arriving at the bag at the same time. Baseball is a nearly perfect game, and a picture like this shows that. This picture might stay in my portfolio for a while.
6.) This year I spent the better part of two days covering the ARCA race in Winchester, Indiana. I was excited to cover my first auto race up close. On race day I did not think that they would get the race in as the rain was coming down very steady. The race was started on time though. I saw a large puddle near turn four, and I knew where I would shoot the pace laps from. I know that you have to get your safe pictures first usually, but to me this picture had to be made. It was such an unusual occurrence that I included it here in this countdown.
7.) 2013 could be called the year that I found soccer. I had never really enjoyed making pictures of the sport, or watching it for that matter. I started covering the Purdue Soccer team, and I realized that I had better learn the sport. I started watching it on TV and going to high school games as well. The more I watched the more I liked. By the end of the season I was not pleased that soccer was over. During the season I waited out a rain delay at the Purdue Soccer complex. While the game was in delay I made a few pictures of the sun starting to set. As the players came out to warm up I realized that I might have a good chance to try a silhouette image. I set my camera up, and I waited for the Nebraska goalie to make the right move. When she did I was rewarded with this image.
8.) Number eight on the countdown down (really I am going up) is a double image. This year I was on the field covering the Purdue Football team. They did not have the season that I thought they would. In fact they only won one game, and I was not present for that victory. During the season I made two pictures of Boiler halfback Akeem Hunt that I really liked. The top image was made during the Nebraska game. Hunt had one big run during the game, and for some reason the Nebraska defender flipped behind him. The flip combined with the drum in the background made this one of my favorite images. The second image was made during senior day. Hunt will be back next year, but I had a 300mm lens covering the game. I love the fact that Hunt is running down the field with his coach out of focus cheering him on. What makes the image for me though is the writing on his mouthguard.
9.) This year I was lucky enough to attend a San Francisco Giants game at AT&T Park. If you love to photograph baseball then Tim Lincecum has to be on your list to photograph. I only had one chance to see a game, and Tim was on the mound. I was thrilled to photograph this dynamic pitcher. I was right behind the Giants photo well so I really had a great view of Tim. Next year I would like a pass to get into the well. We will have to see about that though.
10.) The year 2012 was really the year for Purdue baseball. They won their first Big Ten Title in nearly 100 years, and made it to the NCAA Tourney. I covered the first game at Alexander Field this season. I knew that I wanted an angle to show the historic first pitch there. Whenever a no-hitter is being thrown they always include the scoreboard. I thought that the scoreboard in the background would help tell the story. What couldn’t be planned was the delivery. I had a couple of warm up pitches to get the timing down. Brad had not even pitched the previous year. As it turns out I captured the ball just coming out of his hand, and I was pleased with my shot.
11.) This photo is one that normally would not have made this list, but it has a story behind it as well. I was shooting my first college football game from the sidelines. I had rented a body and a lens for the occasion. As luck would have it the team I was shooting for blocked a punt. Even luckier for me the ball bounced right at me. I have a nice series of the Puma player running right at the ball all the way to me feet. It was a great way to get things started.
12.) One thing that is neat about being on the sidelines is that you are right there for history. The shot above is of Terone Johnson shooting the ball that would score his 1,000th point as a Boilermaker. It was a lucky break for Purdue photographers because Terone did not score again that night, and the next game was in Orlando. I was lucky enough to capture the moment, and it appears here.
13.) The final picture on here is another sport that I had not photographed until this season. I decided to try my hand at swimming and diving. Pictured above is Boiler swimmer Guillermo Blanco finishing first in his race. I loved the challenge of shooting swimming, and I look forward to shooting a bit more next season.