(Text copied from my website)
I recently got the opportunity to start covering the Colchester High School hockey teams (boys and girls) for the local newspaper, The Colchester Sun- and occasionally the Essex Reporter (Same publisher, just different publications for their respective towns). I had never really considered shooting for a newspaper, but after shooting the games and having the opportunity present itself, I realized I actually enjoy this type of work. It’s a great chance for me to get my feet wet so-to-speak into the world of shooting sports for publication. The Sun is a weekly publication, so while there is still a deadline to meet, it is certainly not as stressful as would be for a daily publication to get images done and ready within a couple hours post-game for publication the next morning. (IE the image below which had to be submitted under deadline for publication the following morning in the St Albans Messenger)
When shooting a game, I will usually spend the first two periods shooting from behind the glass on one end so that I get shots of both teams in the offensive zone, as well as both goalies. Since I’m not shooting NHL/AHL games, I’m not lucky enough to have access to a photo-hole to shoot through. For those not familiar, a photo-hole is exactly what it sounds like, a hole in the glass just large enough to poke a camera lens through to take photos. However, since none of the local rinks have these, I have to shoot through the glass to get the shots I’m looking for. Some rinks are better than others in terms of how “clean” or clear the glass is- some are fairly clear and easy to shoot through, while others are all marked up and foggy. Most of the time I can clean it up in post, but it just adds time to my workflow and sometimes can’t be fixed enough to produce a usable image, unfortunately.
For the third period of a game, I will usually go up high somewhere in the rink. Most of the rinks around here have some sort of media box from where I can shoot. There are a couple reasons I go up high for the last period- first, in the event that the game is tied late in the game, I will be able to capture the go-ahead or potential winning goal regardless of which end it is on. A recent game I covered between Colchester and Essex went into overtime tied 0-0; being up high for the overtime I was able to capture a few big saves by both goalies to keep the game tied, as well as capture the winning goal. If I were to stay down behind the glass, I run the risk of being on the wrong end of the ice for that game winner. Second reason to go up high, is to get some different angles and variations of the action, as well as being able to get shots at both ends of the rink. This allows me to get photos of both teams, even in the event that one team heavily outplays the other and spends the majority of the game at one end of the ice.
One other thing I learned very quickly while shooting sports is to keep shooting, even after the play. You never know what may happen or what you may capture after the whistle. It can be anything from post-whistle scrums, to coaches interacting with players or refs, all of it is part of the game and the story.
After the game, I upload all the photos to my computer and begin going through them to weed out the unusable images. When shooting a hockey game, I usually get anywhere between 600-800 images a game. By the time I’m done going through them, I will usually have just under 200 images. Some will go to publications, some will go to my portfolio, and more recently, some will go to the players and parents. The images that don’t make the cut are usually images where there’s just nothing going on, or the puck isn’t visible, or you just can’t really tell what’s going on in the image. As of the writing of this blog post, it generally takes me about 3 hours after a game to have the images done and ready. I’m hoping over time and continued practice to get that time down even further, as I would eventually like to start shooting for bigger publications which most likely will be published daily.
Prior to shooting the University of North Dakota vs Vermont hockey game a couple months back, and other than taking photos of my son at soccer a few times, I really didn’t have much experience shooting sports. It’s been an awesome experience learning and picking up different tips and tricks from other more experienced sports photographers I’m in contact with, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow as we start 2016. If you happen to see me at a game, feel free to say hi!