Monday, October 20, 2008

Field Hockey: Maryland Terrapins vs Delaware


After volleyball I headed down to the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex to photograph the Terrapins play the Delaware Blue Hens. I enjoy the field hockey games because the coaches smile, the support staff is great, and the players are pretty friendly.

I was looking forward to this game because it was a chance to introduce myself to a new member of the Maryland media relations staff: Sam Angell. Sam joined the staff and will temporarily fill in for Field Hockey and Women's Basketball until a permanent staffer can be located. I wanted to introduce myself because the DC Sports Box covers Terrapin sports extensively and being able to map a face to a name will help both Sam and our organization work smoothly. I waited until after the game to introduce myself because I was sure that Sam was busy coordinating his first solo game.

While on the sideline I noticed that the MVP Testudo was absent. After each game Coach Meharg identifies the MVP and has them sign a porcelain Testudo. There's some algorithm they have for identifying who will get to receive Testudo after they graduate that I don't quite understand but it's important and that's what Sandy conveyed to me. She also explained that it was accidentally broken while the team played at ODU and the players picked up the pieces and attempted to glue it back together again. They apparently used rubber bands as supports but it didn't work. In the end they chose to place the pieces in a plastic container and attach some take-home gifts the Pan-Am players brought home. A sombrero, a tequila shot glass, and some sort of spanish rug...

I like getting the back-story and I feel like I am privy to that information because I attend the games regularly. I also feel like we do a good job reporting and take exciting photographs and that helps the team relate to us. We've had several players (and parents) tell us that they regularly check out our site because we post articles and photos after every home game.

While on the sideline I had a chance to talk with Greg Fiume for awhile about the complexities of licensing images. He brought up some good points about it and we talked about dual-purpose vs single-purpose licensing and how it's different than a wire service. We also discussed "use" of photos and how the rule of "editorial use is ok" is not universally accepted. He specifically pointed out that the NBA and the NHL have completely different rules for what you do with your photos.

At this point I feel like I benefit more from conversations of that nature than conversations oriented towards exposure. While I certainly learn from other photographers I've been to enough games at this point where I'm comfortable getting my shots and then experimenting a little. I may look to other photographers for some inspiration for a different shot but I'm not a fish out of water floundering trying to figure out basic exposure settings (aperture, ISO, shutter speed, white balance).

Conversing with professionals in the photojournalism (note: emphasis on JOURNALISM) industry is becoming increasingly valuable as I'm becoming more aware of the complexity of the rules in this industry. I've always been borderline between "I don't know and I don't even know that I don't know" and "I don't know but I'm aware that I don't know" states but I now feel as though I'm leaning more towards the "I don't know but I'm aware that I don't know".

As a result I look to other professionals in the industry for advice. This is naturally a tricky proposition because this industry is cut-throat. Accordingly you have to weigh the combination of the advice and the giver of the advice. Quite frankly: can you trust that the person offering you advice is not trying to screw you? It's a tough call because personalities and motivations are difficult to judge. It's certainly more difficult than figuring out proper exposure settings.

All in all I trust myself because I don't have any malcontent towards the people I've worked with and I put a lot of thought towards what we're doing. If I had an axe to grind or some other dubious intent I'd be concerned that I would act inappropriately and try to do something foolish. Fortunately that's not the case. I've made a lot of mistakes in my brief career as a photographer and I've learned from them. I try to surround myself with people who are more experienced than I am so I can learn both the techniques and the business. Right now the trick seems to be making sure those experienced people are the people I can trust and are people that have an interest in my success. In such a competitive industry it's difficult to find people like that.

And I thought all I had to do was show up and shoot pictures...

As usual, an article and photos are available on the DC Sports Box website. You can read about Maryland's win over Delaware and view game photos on the DC Sports Box.

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