LJWorld.com weblogs Behind the Book: 'Jayhawk Decade'
Little moments before the big moments
Nice action pictures are created by a skillful combination of hand-eye coordination, excellent timing, anticipation and concentration. Interesting photos from press conference days are made from a concerted effort to be where other media members are not. It's a rarity to be the only media outlet around to witness a funny moment or a show of personality by a Kansas player. Plain and simple, the higher profile the basketball program, the greater the saturation of media will be to compete with on such days. And it does get competitive because no photographer or reporter wants to get stuck with the same vanilla images or quotes that everybody else has.
The first of two spreads from a practice and interview day during the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans features all 6-foot-10, 237 pounds of Thomas Robinson — splayed out on the floor in front of his locker — giggling like a schoolgirl on the phone a day before the championship game. As a sigh of relief, players typically loosen up a bit, often retreating to their phones once most of the writers and TV journalists have left the locker room following an interview. Sticking around the locker room a little bit longer has proven to be rewarding. I've found I'm much more likely to come across a lighthearted moment such as this when a guy like Robinson can breathe and be himself rather than when there are 10 TV cameras in the room behind me.
Part of the next spread came about in a contentious sort of situation with another wire service photographer and me. Bill Self was scheduled to appear in a CBS interview with Kentucky head coach John Calipari at a location clear across the Superdome from where the rest of the interviews were scheduled. I knew the taping was closed off to other media beyond the CBS crew, an Associated Press pool photographer and a Reuters pool photographer. I wandered over anyway hoping to catch the two yucking it up outside or in the hallway. When I approached the interview room, I ducked in thinking my presence would do no harm and was greeted with some unfriendly words from one wire service photographer. We exchanged more words just before Self materialized next to Calipari and then all the griping stopped. The two coaches laughed a bit as they got some makeup and it made a nice exchange.
Adjacent to this image on the next page is what might be, in my opinion, one of the best shots made of a player being escorted by golf cart to an interview. Trust me, I've shot a lot. The concourses around these 70,000-seat stadium are ridiculously dark and in this case, Mike Yoder made a really nice image of Tyshawn Taylor's face illuminated while texting on his phone. I've always like how dramatic of a look this image by Mike has, especially considering that the main light source is the glow of an iPhone.
This final spread features a dominant image from this last season's Big 12 Media Day at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Coaches and players were shuffling through the hallways from one interview to the next. I noticed as Self sat down next to West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, the two started laughing and joking around. Down the row, Oklahoma State players Le'Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart and head coach Travis Ford paid them no attention at all. After noticing the various personalities at play, sports editor Tom Keegan said this image reminded him of a bunch of kids lined up outside the principal's office.
"Jayhawk Decade" can be ordered online at ljworldstore.com or by calling 800-578-8748 or 843-1000. Copies also can be purchased at the Lawrence Journal-World, 645 New Hampshire. Retail locations in Lawrence include Hy-Vee stores, KU Bookstore locations, Allen Fieldhouse Store, Kansas Sampler, Jayhawk Bookstore, Framewoods Gallery, Lawrence Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, and Weaver's.