It’s been a year since I accepted Ryu’s invitation to take over for Syd on Big Lens Fast Shutter. In that time I have had a chance to revisit what I know about sports photography, carefully backtracking my experiences and deconstructing how I developed my eye to more effectively pass those things on to our listeners/readers. It’s been great to watch the incredible progress of the people who have taken our advice to heart, but for me, the key payoff to all of the time I’ve spent blogging and podcasting has been all of the thinking involved. The downside? How hard it’s been to convince some people that thinking is key to great pictures.
Last night as news was breaking that Lance Armstrong would end his fight against the United States Anti-Doping Agency, I went to my archive to see which of my pictures of him I should put on the wire. I only shot him in the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, and only have pictures of him from two stages. As I was scanning the pictures from the prologue, I was horrified to see that I had over 400 pictures that looked exactly like this:
Yeah, it’s isolated action, properly exposed and in focus, but totally boring. And since I knelt in the same spot for the whole time trial, the best I could have hoped for would have been a wreck, something almost unheard of in time trials. So what I got was a couple of tongues hanging out and some strained facial expressions:
Yes, it was all part of a plan to get pictures of all the riders as they made a loop in downtown Sacramento before they were bunched up in packs and going point-to-point in the subsequent stages. But it was a bad plan that led to boring pictures that wasted an opportunity, shooting from a few feet away from the best cyclists in the world. What would I do now? I’d know when the riders with a chance of winning the whole tour were going (probably the last 15-20 guys) and I’d make sure to have clean pictures of each of them, not unlike the pictures above. But for the 100+ guys that went before, I’d make totally different pictures: panning, the state capital building as backdrop, fans cheering, maybe some fisheye-on-monopod, a tilt-shift picture or two, etc. Rather than 400 pictures that look exactly them same and are suitable only for stock, I’d try my hardest to make 400 pictures that presented my style and point of view and didn’t look like the pictures of everyone else who was at the same barrier as I was.
So when I see pictures rolling into our Flickr group that show an absence of thought, I want to help. But it’s tough when ego gets in the way. Recently I had an exchange with someone who refused several invitations to put his pictures into Training Ground, yet continued to dump boring picture after boring picture into the group pool. His ego prevented him from doing the things he needed to do to make better pictures. I don’t care about your ego or your feelings either way, just like the people who helped me get better didn’t care about my feelings. People are going to feel one way or another about your pictures, at least with Big Lens Fast Shutter, you’ll hear it from professionals who want to see you get better.
So I don’t want to hear about your precious ego. I want you to pay attention to the podcast and what we write here, and use it to make unique pictures. I’ve updated the blogroll in the right-hand column to some places where you can see examples of this. I’m open to suggestions if you have links that you think should be added, just like we’re open to hearing any and all feedback about Big Lens Fast Shutter.
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