A Pretty Good Day For Me Five Years Ago
I don’t dwell on the past too much. There are certain days though that I tend to recognize every year. Tomorrow is another one of those days. It was five years ago that I had a lot of fun making football photos. That was a crazy fall for me. My daughter was just a few days away from being born. In fact at that point it could have happened any day. I was lucky enough to spend my morning photographing an absolute blowout by Wabash College early in the day. At night I made the crazy decision to buy a $70 ticket to make a photo. The even crazier thing is that the photo I made actually turned out like I had hoped it would. Here is a quick look at that day through my eyes.
Wabash Rolls Over Hanover
My first stop of the day was a game down in Crawfordsville to see Wabash just run all over Hanover College. Looking back through my pictures from the day I really had very few keepers on a day that Wabash scored 62 points. One thing that I could see are ideas that were good. There were little things that I was doing that was heading down the right path. Most of those occurred away from the action. The photo above is one of those things. I had the idea to make this photo even though the execution may not have been the best. It was a hot day on the turf, and the ride back to West Lafayette was spent hydrating.
The $70 Bet
When I made it back to West Lafayette I had a family tailgate to attend in the F Lot. That really was my plan for the game. I actually went with my wife knowing that I would be riding back with her. Of course the sounds of gameday and the possibility of a great sunset was too much for me to overcome. I went to the ticket office to buy my $70 ticket to get into the game. I chose a seat in the section where I thought that the photo would look the best on purpose. The girl selling me the ticket was not sure I should pay full price to sit in the last row. I wanted it though so she gave it to me even though many good seats were still available. Above you can see a large panoramic photo that I made that night at kickoff that shows my location very well. Had I been a better photographer at the time I would have made frames like this for the kickoff as well to have a much larger photo.
At halftime I moved over to the press box side of the field to sit with some of my family members. I broke out my 70-200mm lens with the 1.4x extender on it to make some photos of the action. As it turned out these would be my last action photos made from the stands after doing so for many years. I used to run a blog that I would post all of my game photos on. I made many photos that I thought were awesome on that blog (Narrator: They were not). It is amazing to go back to my mindset at the time. I had no idea what was about to happen to me. I was making plans to sit in these seats in a few weeks after my daughter was born. They were good seats to get some action shots at the south end of the field.
The Photo That Started It All
The photo above is the one that started it all. At the time I had a crop framed body and a 10-20mm lens. I couldn’t get as wide as I would have liked so I had to frame this exactly this way to get all of the elements of the moment into the frame. When I made the photo I thought that it was okay. As I wrote my blog post that would go out Sunday morning I was not too high on the photo. Then something interesting started to happen. People actually started clicking on this blog. My wife had gone to the store, and by the time she came back this photo went absolutely viral. It is still the best single day that this blog has ever had. I really had no idea how to handle things. I was contacted by several people at Purdue asking about the photo. I had no idea what I had on my hands so I made a simple arrangement to trade this photo for a pass to shoot on the field. I had people telling me that I had been ripped off, but it was that pass and the contacts I made down on the field that led me to where I am today. I would not change a thing if I had to do it all over again. At the time I did not consider myself a real sports photographer. When I went to pick up the pass from Paul Sadler he asked me if I wanted to do this for a living. At the time I knew that I was not good enough so I really didn’t give an answer. As I left the office I wished that I had shown more confidence and said yes, but like I said I was horrible at the time. I think that I did the right thing. I spent time working on what I do. I shot all kinds of events to get better so that I could make this my job. I love making photos of sports. It still is a small part of my income, but it is the majority of the fun that I have making pictures. For a short time I hated this photo. I saw it everywhere, and I wanted to prove so bad that I could do more than this. As I said I never was too keen on it myself. I saw many flaws from square one with it. In fact on the ride home with my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law I told them that I maybe had something. I have come to love the photo though more for what it represents than what is in the photo. As I walk into the stadium Saturday night I will have this small anniversary in my head. It is five years later and a lot has changed. The one thing that has stayed the same is my love for Purdue and football. I am so lucky that now I am down on the field with this great Purdue team making images. My goal every week is to prove that I belong there, and to try and give them something interesting every week. I think part of what makes me decent at what I do is the fact that I am never happy. I can like a gallery, but I always see somewhere to improve. The fun is trying to make up that ground every week. Next Monday when the Purdue Sports gallery comes out we will see if I have done what I set out to do this week.