To look at the portrait of the Kansas University men's basketball team hanging in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, it's easy to imagine a day when the coaches and players of one of the most storied college basketball programs gathered together at the center of James Naismith Court for an official record of unity before the season commenced.
All that exists is their untroubled thoughts and expressions, sitting silently together while the team photographer gives a three count. Every flash of the strobes highlights achievements yet to come and not a soul is there to witness ... well, except, of course, for the spaghetti monster of reporters, cameras, wires, recorders, umbrellas, studio lights and mass hysteria that is Media Day.
Although it's called Media Day, it's actually more like 30 to 40 minutes of photographic chaos.
Here's how it all works. Photographers typically begin arriving about two hours or so before the players become available. You may ask why so early? The reason being is that it's not long before the floor space becomes gobbled up by miniature studios from competing photographers, so getting a good spot for your setup is key. More importantly, studio lights typically require an electrical source, and I firmly believe that only three working power outlets exist on the ground level of Allen Fieldhouse.
Once the players set foot on the floor, they're fair game, and from then on it's a quick introduction, followed by a shoot 'em up and ship 'em out sort of process with the clock ticking.
Too much time spent photographing Tyshawn Taylor amounts to less time spent with Cole Aldrich. Minimal light adjustments are made in between, and it's on to Travis Releford and so on and so forth down the list.
Players make their way from one studio setup to the next, and before you know it you've shot just about everybody on the team and time has run out. I'd venture to say that 90 percent of the player profile portraits that grace the sports sections throughout the season are generated from this day and during this allotted timeframe.
A 90-second portrait shoot is less than ideal. However, I can't say that the challenge the environment presents isn't a little bit exciting.