I’ll offer one more story on our recent photo coverage of the Kansas University men’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament.
After KU made the Final Four, photo coverage of each game had less to do with shooting numerous action photos and more to do with capturing key plays and player reactions in the final seconds or at game’s end.
I’m of the opinion that nobody cares much about a photo of a thunderous dunk in the first half of a game that a team eventually loses. So as the closing seconds ticked off the clock in the championship game between KU and Kentucky, and the score favoring the Wildcats, my attention turned to keying on a KU player, specifically Tyshawn Taylor or Thomas Robinson, and their reaction to the emotional loss.
As the buzzer closed out the Jayhawk loss, my camera landed on Robinson, his head down and Kentucky players beginning to celebrate in the background. Rather than take this one shot and look for other possibilities, I decided to keep my camera glued on Robinson.
In the sequence that follows, he leans over, alone, bracing himself on his knees. When photographing this it seemed like a long time, but my camera registers it as only a six-second span. Teammate Kevin Young walks into the scene next, and then I remember hearing a loud explosion.
I kept my camera to my eye and continued photographing. By the time Tyshawn Taylor stepped in to console Robinson, bright-colored streamers and confetti were falling from the ceiling and through my photograph. I realized what the explosion had been.
It was a surreal and beautiful visual moment and it set the stage for a photograph of the players, huddled together, supporting each other in the loss. I stayed framed on the scene until the three — Young and Taylor on each side of Robinson — walked off the court.
The entire sequence consists of 52 photographs taken over a 24-second period. I have no knowledge of anything else happening inside the entire Superdome during that half-minute.
I felt lucky to be in a position to photograph each of those moments and capture one that summed up the players’ emotional loss after a well-played game, tournament and season.