About this series
"Behind the Lens" is a weekly look at photography, written by Journal-World staff photographers. Have an idea for the column? Contact Thad Allender, photo director, at 832-6359 or email@example.com.
Imagine, if you can, hordes of reporters clawing at each other's backs to circle you. One after another microphones are thrust in your face. Relentless camera flashes blind you while TV cameras record your every step. All the while the questions keep coming and mingle into an indecipherable mess. Can you guess who or where you are? Here's a few hints. There are no lawyers next to you. You didn't kill anybody, and you're not the president. Oh yeah ... and it's March.
Covering a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament presents challenges unlike the other 30-something games of the college basketball season. Forget that CBS has access to just about everything but the bathroom stalls in the team locker rooms. Never mind that the NCAA tells you when to eat, drink and what kind of cup is OK to drink out of. The real issue is the sheer amount of media. When you're the Kansas Jayhawks, everybody wants a piece of you, including but not limited to all the newspapers, TV stations, radio shows, online sports Web sites, bloggers and more.
As a still photographer measuring in at 5 foot 7 inches (probably not), making photographs of the team in very cramped and hectic spaces can prove to be difficult. In such situations like locker room interviews, you have to wedge your way underneath armpits, notepads, tape recorders and TV cameras just to get a boring photograph of Brandon Rush sitting in a chair talking. I can only stand being in the middle of the herd for more than a couple of minutes before I start feeling claustrophobic. In very saturated and public situations, there are three things you can do:
¢ Continue allowing yourself to be elbowed repeatedly in the face for a photo that everyone else has.
¢ Find the nearest chair, water cooler, park bench, trash can, big dog or anything else you can stand on to elevate your point of view above the pack.
¢ Stand back, be patient and wait (if time allows). Wait until just about everyone else has tired of the situation and has left so you can photograph candid moments with an unobstructed view. Sometimes you're going to get burned, but when it works, it's rewarding.
The point of it all is to get something new and fresh that not many other people have. If you stick with the crowd from one point of interest to the next, typically all you'll find is that you have the same stale images that everyone else has. Considering this, it's important to take risks by placing yourself in photographic situations where you can set yourself apart.
Athletes, just like most people, will act very businesslike and nearly inanimate when all the attention is turned toward them. The second that the cameras and microphones disappear, there is a sigh of relief as their personalities are allowed to return. Who knows what will happen next?
Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion, if I remember correctly, explains that an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. If Newton were talking about making photographs, he'd probably say that a subject of interest will cease being interesting when acted upon by 50 journalists with deadlines.