I Really Did Used To Be a Sports Photographer

Following the posts on my DSLR search (I did order a D80 camera body, by the way), I received a few emails wanting to see the sports photos I used to take — or worse, thought I was full of it. While I can’t speak to the latter, I hope that I might be able to satisfy the former.

First off, most of my archives are in storage and I’m not about to go rooting around for them. They are stored as slides, negs, and tear-sheets—almost none of which have ever been digitized. Still, over the past decade or so, I’ve had to scan in a picture here or there. I’m culling a sampling from those. Sorry about their small size, but I don’t want to eat up everyone’s bandwidth with this. It’s not a gallery, just a hint at what I used to do.

I guess I should begin with basketball, since that’s what got me started on the photographic hamster wheel in the first place:

A Maryland athletic department magazine cover.

A Maryland Women's Basketball Program cover.

This was probably my most printed photo at Maryland. Of course I was stiffed on the usage fees. The AD figured that if he got the photo for a few ducats then he was allowed to use it as often as he wished, regardless of what the contract said. Actually, this was a common experience with just about every school and athletic department I shot for. Contracts not honored, materials not returned (i.e. stolen), bad pay regardless. I lost $$$ thousands. It didn’t matter if they were a lowly state college or a lofty Ivy League institution…if they could screw me, they did. But I’m not bitter :-D

Yes, this the legendary Cheryl Miller is the player on the right.

Yes, the legendary Cheryl Miller is the player on the right.

Who doesn't like stuffing?

Who doesn't like stuffing?

Marcia Richardson driving to the hoop. One of my first photos.

Marcia Richardson driving to the hoop. One of my first photos.

Needless to say, I didn’t limit myself to basketball. Volleyball got its share of coverage (in the darkest part of Cole Field House )

You just gotta love the symmetry

You just gotta love the symmetry

A stylin' spike from Terp Laura Rogers

A stylin' spike from Terp Laura Rogers

Of course, a summing up of Maryland women’s sports wouldn’t be complete without Field Hockey and Lacrosse. So this summing up won’t be complete. I couldn’t find any photos of those sports lying about. Or of softball or soccer, either.

One of the sports I really enjoyed shooting because it is made to be photographed: gymnastics.

It ain't gymnastics if Bela isn't there (with his gymnast Kristie Phillips)

It ain't gymnastics if Bela isn't there (with his gymnast Kristie Phillips)

US Gymnast Kristie Phillips in the middle of her signature move, "The Phillips"

US Gymnast Kristie Phillips in the middle of her signature move, "The Phillips"

It wasn't a gymnastics meet in the 80s if the Soviets weren't there (Inina Baraksonova on vault)

It wasn't a gymnastics meet in the 80s if the Soviets weren't there (Irina Baraksonova on vault)

Wonder of wonders. When I was looking for some gymnastics stuff, I found one of my tear-sheets:

From _International Gymnast_ magazine

From International Gymnast magazine

If nothing else, it serves as proof that I did, every once and a while, take pictures of male athletes as well. (The pixelated photos are from other photogs). Oh, nice bit of trivia: the gymnast in the upper right is none other than Tim Dagget. Yes, that’s right. The guy who does all the gymnastics commentary was once actually an honest to goodness gymnast. Medals and everything.

And I guess I’ll round out with a couple of shots from a track meet:

XTF 860720-4N12-19 STF 860719-2N8-24

I think that track meet was the hardest shoot I’d have in any year. It took place in Baltimore at Towson State University in the worst part of summer. Temperature in the 90s with the humidity also in the 90s. Since the sunscreens at the time left much to be desired in terms of protection and oiliness, I spent the days the meet was on wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt and jeans. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was running around from one area of the track to another carrying a lot of camera gear. Fun. You’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson after one year of that, but noooooo……

And so you know, it’s all hand-held, all camera settings and focusing done manually, and no flash—it’s all using the available light. Hey, it was the 80s. If you wanted to be a photographer, that’s how you did it. If you wanted to do sports, you learned to do it quickly.

I hope that gives you a quick idea that yes, I did indeed used to shoot all sorts of sports—other than the overly-well-covered football, men’s basketball, and baseball, of course— in all sorts of venues (don’t be fooled by the Maryland slant in this sample). It was fun.

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