My 21 Favorite Sports Images Of 2021
Here we are. The final sports post from 2021. It was a bittersweet year for sure. I was making images better than I ever have been, and the work just was not there. Purdue was playing fantastic across the board, but they are going in a different direction. My goal every year is to make better images than the last. I want to have images that would have been at the top of last years post not even make it into this years post. I think that I did that this year. I set out to have a great year not knowing what lies ahead of me. As I write this I don’t anticipate having the large amount of sports posts in the coming year. I wanted to go out with a bang, and I hope that you agree with me that I think that I did. Here are my favorite images from this past year.
21. This was the year of hoisting the trophy. I had a blast watching many teams hoist trophies this year. What better way to start this countdown than showing some teams at the pinnacle of their seasons? These are the great moments of the year. They are what make this so much fun to do. That anticipation as the magic moment gets closer, and then the craziness that is the celebration.
20. This photo makes the countdown for a couple of reasons. One because it echoes a lot of what I just said above. It is that championship moment that these athletes work so many hours for. On a personal note it was my return to covering action sports near the athletes. I was not doing well with being so far away from the action. You cannot make dynamic photos from far away. There was a lot of testing involved to get to this point, but it was worth it. This was the first year in a long time when I did not photograph a single swim event. These last two years have been weird in so many ways.
18. This was a crazy year for me in that I only covered four basketball games. At the beginning of the year I only covered one because I just was not feeling that high up vantage point. By the time the winter season came back I found myself off to the side with the other has beens and realized that even there I was taking up space that a working photographer could use. I just decided that it was best to move aside and let the pros do the work. This was one of my favorite photos though of an athlete that is really fun to photograph.
17. This was the lone Purdue women’s game that I covered this year. I couldn’t resist the urge to be at the first game with Katie Gearlds as the coach of Purdue. It was only the exhibition game, but the team started the regular season on the road. I was not covering the game for the team, but when I realized that the team photographer was not going back to get this moment I ran back down the tunnel. I am glad that I did. I remember my pals Art and Sharon in the stands talking about what a great coach that Katie would be one day while she was playing for the Boilers. Now we get to see that play out.
16. Sometimes you are blessed with a great sky. I only covered on Harrison girls soccer game this year, but the sunset sky made it worthwhile. As you will see later on the countdown it was a fun night with the team with a great playoff win.
15. During the Big Ten swimming and diving championships I was always searching for a new angle. Here Big Ten Champion Brandon Loschiavo executes one of his dives. I liked how the signage helps show you all you need to know about when this was.
14. This fall I went down to Purdue a couple of mornings to play with the early morning light. The light raking the players with the dark background made for some cool images. I let me create some unique images that I had not made before.
13. Walk offs are amazing. The emotion of a walk off is really fun to capture. This was a fun game to make photos at, and the light was working in my favor here.
12. George Karlaftis had a heck of a career at Purdue. He was constantly making life rough on quarterbacks and linemen. Here he celebrates a long touchdown run after picking up a fumble against Wisconsin. It was one of my favorite moments of the season.
11. These are two examples where I pulled out a little to give more of a sense of place. Tight action is always good, but sometimes I want to show a little more. In both of these examples I pulled back just a bit to show more of the stadium and the fans. After a year without fans I tried to include them more in my photos this past fall. They are what make the experience what it is.
10. On opening night for Purdue basketball I went down to Mackey just to make this image. I love my wide angles of the stadium, and I wanted to experience the first regular season game with fans in a year and a half with them. As you have seen with my stadium top 21 I like to treat these photos like they are landscapes and have some fun with them. Here I picked a spot where I thought that everything might come together. I was lucky and it did. One of these days they will figure out how to set off the smoke when the player is near instead of after he has gone by it.
9. As I said above I only photographed one Harrison high school girls soccer game this year, but it was a great one. Here the team reacts to the goal that sent them to the next round of the playoffs. Emotion is why I do what I do, and it doesn’t get any better than this.
8. I have said this in past posts, but this was the year when I was finally able to be around the players again. It had been over a year since I was last around the players before the Aviators season started. This was a great chance to get down there and make some more impactful photos. It was also the year when I was able to try out a tilt shift lens. Here I combined the two along with Jorge who was one of my favorite subjects of the summer.
7. This is the moment when Purdue volleyball took down #3 Wisconsin for the first time this year. I was not there with anyone, but rather just to have fun and watch a really good Purdue team. The working photogs had the angle to the side covered so I gambled and went behind the team. I had an idea like this in mind, but I knew that I might get blocked. I lucked out and things worked in my favor for an image that I really like. This probably could have been closer to number one in all reality.
6. I really have no real connection to any of the local high schools around here. I grew up in northern Indiana so I kind of float around to what seems interesting when it comes to high school sports. In the spring I photograph the West Side team more because they are in my neighborhood. Harrison is not that far away from me though. Here they celebrate a sectional title over rival McCutcheon. The kiss on the trophy just made the photo for me. I only saw this team play a couple of times during the season, but they were really fun to watch. I should have made time to cover more of their games.
5. For a year I kept hearing about sports in the bubble. When baseball season came around they were still kind of in the bubble. We were not allowed on the field with them. I spent the season having fun making photos of the players blowing bubbles. This was my favorite of the season.
4. As the sun goes down you can do one of two things. You can photograph with it, and have some amazing light. You can also go opposite it, and use the lens flare to make some interesting photos. For both of these photos I was not at the games in any official capacity so I could play around a little more. This year as sports becomes more of a hobby again I think this is what it may turn into for me. I used to show up to games feeling like I needed to make a gallery and get as many players into it as I could. This year I may just show up at games for one good photo. I wouldn’t have to spend so much time at the stadium, and I think that it might be very rewarding to work towards that one photo.
3. Man did I luck out here. I didn’t expect this emotion, but I really am happy with how the photo turned out. This is what high school football is all about. In the same vein as I said above this coming year might just be me showing up and having some fun at games rather than covering the game action.
2. This was such a cool moment, and normally it would be number one on the countdown for many reasons. One is that it is rare that Dave Shondell celebrates with the team on the court. After beating #3 Wisconsin for the first of two times on the season though Dave came out to celebrate with the players in that lucky sweatshirt. The head pat and the smiles show so much of what this team was about. In my volleyball post I talked about how special this team was many times. This is just one example of that. Man they were fun to watch.
- This was the highlight of my year though. In the preseason nobody thought much of the Purdue soccer team. They came out firing though and had a season to remember. This was my first NCAA Tournament game, and it was a great one. Purdue scored in overtime to advance to the next round. I was in a spot where I thought that I could get to the celebration easy for a photo. Of course sports are never really predictable and I had to run to a spot to make this photo. It was worth it though. This is the emotion and joy that drives me as a photographer.
So there are my favorite images of the year. After being a good boy during these posts all year l really abused the system here and put way more than 21 images into this one. I had so much fun getting back out there making photos though that there was no way that I could limit the list to 21. I love making sports photos. I hope that you can tell by this post how much I love to do this. My head tells me that what I do isn’t in demand and that it should be over. My heart though knows that I need to keep doing this. If you have an team or game that you need covered let me know. We can work something out and make some great images together.