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Thursday, December 28, 2017

We Are the Champions

Sports championship celebrations give you numerous photo opportunities to capture unrestrained emotion.

Jubilant Yale University baseball players pile on to celebrate winning the 2017 Ivy League baseball title.

The Photo
Yale’s baseball team was about to beat Penn for its first Ivy League baseball championship in over 20 years, but Penn had slowly chipped away at Yale’s one-time 11 run lead, with the tying run now at the plate.  What reaction I should anticipate from which player(s) and be ready photograph?

Yale would certainly be very happy and emotional, so I first focused on the pitcher trying to get the last out, who would surely react with joy somehow.  Sure enough, he struck out the last batter, pumped his fist, and leaped into the catcher’s arms, but it wasn’t a great photo.  Players poured out of the dugout to congratulate each other, and I focused on them as they suddenly began jumping on top of one another, with the last players having to leap progressively higher into to land on top.  As the pile dissolved, the players began showing their emotions in many other different ways, including Gatorade showers, euphoric hugs, embracing family members, interacting with the Yale Bulldog mascot Handsome Dan, arms overhead in a “v”, screams of joy, kissing the championship trophy, and posing for a team picture.  Throughout all this, I photographed every expression of joy that I could, and there were many good photos.  However, the best picture was the last player leaping onto the pile of his teammates’ happy faces, since he had to jump higher than everyone else.

3 Tips
1)    Photograph players doing everything you see -- bench players anticipating the win, reaction of on-field players after the final play, players celebrating together after the game, coach getting Gatorade shower, close up facial reactions, trophy presentation, and team photo with championship trophy.
2)    Capture emotional facial expressions, not just from far away with a long lens, but also from close-up with a wide lens.
3)    Remember to look for fan and family reactions with and without players.