"Bringing Your ‘A’ Game…" *Musings from late March / early April 2010.

*More on different
aspects of

my sports photography –

(particularly at the championship level…)

I’ve thought a lot lately about approaching the challenges of not only the daily grind, but stepping it up when necessary to make memorable or game telling sports images. Sports portraits also offer that opportunity to show the viewer an athlete’s personality or character, if you will. It also gives me a few brief moments to connect with athletes on a more personal level, other than just photographing them during their games, practices, press conferences, etc. It’s nice to have that interaction in a quiet enviornment with a subject I’ve been photographing – especially athletes on top of their games.

(above): Newburgh Free Academy guard Michael McLeod (#4) photographed in the school’s gym in the City of Newburgh, NY on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. McLeod is the Times Herald-Record’s 2010 Player of the Year. Times Herald Record/CHET GORDON

This mindset is a year-round exercise of preparation, creativity and logistics. It’s usually the cause in itself for many sleepless nights, gnashing of teeth, and what has become a continual, yet albeit need for packing enough lighting gear, extra cameras, and supporting hardware like clamps, umbrellas, stands, radio transmitters, and extension cords to cover a championship game. Sometimes it’s just a 15-minute portrait made in the school’s gym; catering to the subject’s schedule, as the top image illustrates earlier today. It’s good when the pre-visualizing of the finished image in my mind’s eye actually has a good chance of materializing. It’s always a good feeling of relief when an athlete is pleased with the image(s) on the back of the camera. When all those elements come together in what can sometimes be a hurried session due to factors outside of my control, you can almost hear my heels clicking…

Kingston guard Rachel Coffey is the Times Herald-Record’s 2010 Girls High School Player of the Year. She’s seen photographed at the Rondout Neighborhood Center in Kingston, NY on Wednesday, March 31, 2010. Coffey will attend Syracuse University next Fall. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

(Sports Photography con’t.): “Fight Night in Poughkeepsie…” Last Saturday the challenge in assignments were (#1.) Army’s Annual Spring Scrimmage Game and later that same evening, a full boxing card of 8 bouts in Poughkeepsie, NY in the horribly dark Mid-Hudson Civic Center. This image of the fighter’s face being soaked by his trainer just works for me. It’s not a moment you normally see in print from a boxing event and I remember intentionally jumping up on the ring to be outside of the ropes for what was probably no more than 30 seconds intervals between rounds, pushing myself to make a few feature-type images of what it’s like in a fighter’s corner.

Boxer Daniel Sostre of Highland, NY is treated by his trainer Tracey Patterson between rounds of his NY State Welterweight Championship fight against Jay Krupp of Catskill, NY at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY on Saturday, March 27, 2010. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

In looking back at a lot of the sports imagery I’ve made in the past few weeks, you come to also realize again that it’s not always the peak-action, last-second, buzzer-beater images that hold a viewer’s attention and interest. Getting in close with a subject to reveal something intimate about their character, either in a controlled and lit portrait setting or in sort of a “behind the scenes look” in a feature moment of a single image or series of thought out story telling images, is just as rewarding to me as a photographer and critical viewer (and former photo-editor) as covering any other big event. A good image is a good image, and my efforts are continually showing the viewer that I worked a little harder in discovering some new truths or nuances about whatever my subject matter happens to be at any given time. Stay tuned… ~cg.

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