As I posted about last night, I have shot a lot of MLB baseball these past few days. Some Giants, but mostly Athletics. This past week I got the chance to work next to some great people like freelance baseball photographer Brad Mangin, Athletics and 49ers team photographer Michael “Z” Zagaris and the Associated Press’ Ben Margot.
All three have helped me find my way through my constantly changing approach to covering MLB baseball. For 4 years I covered high school and college sports where my only limitation was my time and energy. At venues like AT&T Park or the Oakland Coliseum, the shooting positions are very limited. No longer can I sit in any seat, or directly behind the backstop.
So to make images that are worthy for showing, I need to start getting better at using the locations at my disposal. For example, shooting before the game is a huge help. Mostly because photographers have pretty great access before the first pitch. Dugouts, warning track – a whole lot more space is available before the umpire calls “Play Ball!”
Once I am in my shooting position, game action is only one portion of the type of photos I am looking to make. When I shoot for Thomson Reuters or the San Francisco Chronicle, I need to tell the story of the game. Neither client’s business model is built around exclusively selling stock photos. Both are serving subscribers who want to know the story of that day’s game.
Dejection is an obvious story-telling moment. The San Francisco Giant’s Angel Pagan striking out does a descent job telling us that this might not have been his day.
Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon doesn’t express much (most pitcher don’t). But sometimes you can see their frustration as they shake off the last pitch and prepare for the next.
No one had a great day if they got injured.
In the same genre, but other end of the spectrum, are the jubilation photos. A few days ago, Oakland Athletics’ Jemile Weeks had a triple in the 15th inning which would eventually produce the winning run.
It seems like the Giants and the Athletics have an insane number of walk-off wins in their records. Looking at photos from a Giants’ walk-off win, you’d think they just won the World Series (again).
Oakland’s Coco Crisp (yes that’s his name) hit the walk-off single that score Jemile Weeks in the previous photo. Pretty fantastic ending to a 15-inning game. Got home around 1:00 AM after that game.
The next good story-telling photos I like to send to a client are peak action. This can mean a collision at the plate, good second base action or like when the Dodgers’ Jerry Hairston trips over the warm-up mound while pursuing a foul ball.
Home plate action is tough because I almost never find myself in the right spot when it happens. Or if I am, on shooting on my 400mm. Tight is right… right?
Once in a blue-moon, I am in the right place with the right lens.
The last category of story-telling photos is probably my favorite. In addition to the photo I posted last night of kids playing baseball outside the Oakland Coliseum, these photos talk about the personalities of the people we idolize. These are the people we stand up and cheer for. But they are more than that obviously. I can’t get into the locker room, but sometimes the locker room comes out onto the field.
Oakland’s Brandon Moss trying to get me into a staring contest.
But the best was when Oakland’s Coco Crisp got a pie in the face by outfielder Josh Reddick in a Spiderman costume after Crisp hit his walk-off single in the 15th inning.
Tomorrow I leave for Drakesbad Guest Ranch in Lassen Volcanic National Park. So I’ll see you in a week.