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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Softballers Popping the Cork

It was a big surprise and a great photo when these high school softball champs started celebrating with champagne.

Saugus, Ma. High School players pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their victory as Eastern Ma. State softball champs, 8-5, over Billerica (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).

The Photo:
The Ma. state high school softball champions were about to be crowned, but the game was a rout, with no suspense about who would win. The winning Saugus team was clearly better and led much of the game, so I shot whatever action photos I could. There was no exciting finish, so I resigned myself to doing without an emotional celebration photo, although I was ready with a long lens to isolate happy faces from the background, just in case. Suddenly, someone pulled out several bottles of champagne and the winning team could finally show their jubilation by squirting it at one another and into the air. I momentarily wondered if this photo might create a problem when it was published because all these kids were under age, but none of them drank the champagne. While I sought a happy winner picture I never could have anticipated this very unique sports celebration photo for a high school game.

3 Tips:
1) Prioritize capturing the happiness of the winning team.
2) Use a longer lens to isolate happy faces and emotional expressions.
3) Position yourself to react quickly for post-game celebrations in many forms.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Big Upset in Close Election

When photographing famous people, look for them showing emotion or having a natural reaction to a situation, and avoid the standard head shot.

U. S. Representative John Anderson, underdog Republican candidate from Illinois, wipes his face as the election returns come in during a tight 1980 Ma. presidential primary, where Anderson finished in a virtual dead heat with Ronald Reagan, and later became the third party candidate for President of the United States (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).

The Photo:
The Massachusetts Republican Presidential primary was an important vote to legitimize Illinois Republican Representative John Anderson’s candidacy nationwide. He was running on the Republican ticket against Ronald Reagan and several other formidable challengers. This primary was so important that Anderson was in Massachusetts campaigning on Election Day, and would remain until the returns came in that night. Anderson made a great showing, finishing neck-and-neck with favorite Ronald Reagan, so I headed to his Boston campaign headquarters before the vote count was final. Because of this surprising result, I dearly wanted more than just the typical shot of a candidate behind a podium, with hands gesturing. After the final tally was in, Anderson stood behind the podium to thank his supporters, but when he was done, he walked through the crowd, spoke with them and shook hands. The media followed close behind, which made things very cramped, but I was able to shoot a photo of him trying to cool off from the hot TV lights and intense attention, wiping his glasses, as an aide tried to move the crowd of media back. Poor Anderson just wanted space to actually meet and greet the people who voted for him, but the large media contingent made it very hard to do. Anderson’s Ma. success launched him to later become the Independent candidate for President against Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter.

3 Tips:
1) One potentially great political campaign photo is the candidate dealing with the crush of supporters and media coverage.
2) Try not to settle on the common picture of the candidate speaking from the podium.
3) The best way to get unique photos is to follow the candidate through the crowds at rallies, and capture spontaneous emotion during interactions with family, friends, supporters, and media.