on an emotional swing

A night sporting event, like last night’s Bears/ Packers game, offers a wide variety of challenges.

The first challenge is always the newspaper’s deadline. For a paper like the Chicago Tribune, where there are early and late editions, the editors back in Chicago require the game photographers, which is two for a road game and sometimes three at home, to transmit images back to the paper during the game. At the same time, the internet wants fresh images to feature as the contest is played out.

The web site is temporarily satisfied by pregame features and a handful of early action. The issue last night was our system to get low resolution images back to Chicago wasn’t working. We use a device called a cradle point which attaches to the camera and usually allows us to send a small file directly from the camera without going to the photo work room inside the stadium. It uses an air card to send the photos but last night we couldn’t get a signal at Lambeau.

As the game goes on, one photographer runs in after the 1st quarter to send high resolution images for the early deadline. After half time, the other photographer heads in to send their best.

Then if warranted, a shooter will go in after the third quarter and then of course both send after the game.

The second challenge with last night’s game was that the only thing that the paper was interested in was photos of the Bears’ new quarterback Jay Cutler. Being limited to one player especially when they are playing horribly is quite difficult. My job last night was to go in after the 1st quarter but I had nothing much to offer so I pushed it into the 2nd quarter.

The third challenge was the back and forth nature of the game. It was scoreless for a good part of the first half and 10-2 at halftime in favor of the Packers. In the third quarter, the Bears’ rallied to take a 12-10 lead. Then it was the Packers 13-12. Then it was the Bears 15-13. Finally in the last two minutes, the biggest plays happened. A 50-yard game-winning touchdown from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings and a game-clinching interception of a Jay Cutler pass, his 4th of the game, gave the Pack the win 21-15.

When shooting a sports event, the photos have to match the final score so at most games half of my photos are worthless. All my images from the Bears’ big plays would have run if the Bears had won but since they lost it was poor play and dejection that was needed.

Despite the inherent challenges, there are few things I like shooting more than a Bears’ game.

For a wide selection of images from Trib shooter Nuccio Dinuzzo and myself go HERE.

©2009 Chicago Tribune/ Scott Strazzante

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3 Responses to “on an emotional swing”

  1. I don’t care particularly for Jay “Crybaby” Cutler, but it was fun watching Abilene Christian alums Danieal Manning and Johnny Knox make some contributions last night!

  2. Hi Smooth Jaz,
    I remember those days covering the Falcons in Atlanta and the Dolphins in Miami …. the back and forth and running to get photos in for deadline and, now, online can be stressful. Especially when it’s a bad game and the focus of the story is already pre-planned. But, it can be exciting. Now that I’m stuck in an office as the Sun Sentinel’s DOP, I miss those days. I live vicariously through out shooters, Robert Duyos and Jim Rassol. One of these days, I hope to hit the field again …. maybe, Super Bowl 2010.
    Thanks for bringing back memories,
    Taimy Alvarez
    Sun Sentinel
    Director of Photography ..and Photojounalist

  3. I recently photographed a college football game with the singular assignment of photographing the visiting team’s quarterback, who was the all-conference hero when he played at a nearby high school.

    The hometown hero’s team got trounced but the QB did pretty well. For me it was a rare luxury to be able to focus on a single player and not the usual checklist of images where the entire team (or even both teams) would be the subject of the story.

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