On the floor, behind the lens: Photog at the women's NCAA Tournament
After getting smacked in the head with a ball and getting an awkward, “my bad” face from sophomore guard Kiana Johnson during the Spartans’ warm up, I could tell this was going to be a rough game shooting wise.
The ESPN guy behind me chuckled, “You got to watch out for that.”
When you’re on the floor, you become a part of the game. You overhear the players and coaches shouting at one another. You see the sly looks they give. If someone rolls their eyes a referee, you notice it. Although a lot of the time it’s me giving that look to a ref.
Shooting a game is not easy, especially when you’ve shot the same team over and over. I’ve shot multiple women’s games at Breslin. I followed them to Hoffman Estates, Ill. for the Women’s Big Ten Tournament. And when you’ve shot the same team so many times, sometimes your pictures start to look the same, but it’s a fun challenge trying to envision a sport differently.
People get in the way of your photos. Referees like to chill right in front of you as the players are going up for a basket. Sometimes cameras enjoy going out of focus at the worst possible time. Some arenas are dark. And no matter how exciting it all can be, there’s the lingering anxiety of missing the shot, the moment.
A writer can depict it in words, a TV camera guy has a few seconds to videotape it, but the photographer has to catch it in a split second and there’s so many things that can go wrong, it’s sometimes a miracle to me when it goes right.
My games are spent sitting on the floor, climbing into the stands, avoiding the referees, running up and down from the press box to get a photo in for a halftime story, constantly scanning the crowd for anything interesting, catching moments and unfortunately, sometimes missing them too.
This is my first time at an NCAA tournament, so let’s just hope I catch more those moments than miss them.