When it comes to projecting an image, there can never be any rest in college athletics. Let your guard down for a minute and some other school will sweep in with a new look designed to entice recruits and persuade those with deep pockets to empty them.
I can’t say whether all the work really pays off. I would hope an athlete picks a school, or a fan donates money, for more than a cool photo project or a splashy video. Yet, in our visual world with short attention spans and ever-changing social networking, why not do all you can to be on the safe side.
Go back to the Terry Allen days of KU football in the late 90’s. I was taking photographs of recruits in full game-day gear, holding their helmet. These became large posters hung in lockers at the stadium during recruits’ visits to campus. It was an impressive site to see. One player asked whether the setup could be maintained for a day so his parents could drive overnight from Texas just to see it.
Basketball soon followed the trend. One of their recruits bragged, on his subsequent trip to Missouri, about his Michael Jordan-like poster I made of him while visiting KU. A complaint was made to NCAA and legislation stopped such elaborate setups. I always take a bit of pride in being a key part in an NCAA ruling.
No matter, schools adjusted quickly. Media guides grew in size, as facts and figures were lost to make way for pictures designed to sell young minds that one university was the better place to play. Then economics took over. Athletic departments have been seeking ways to cut costs and media/recruiting guides were one logical place. The NCAA agreed. Now media guides can only be found on the university’s athletic web sites. Fortunately for me, that hasn’t lessened the need for a wide variety of photographs.
I work in a high-volume business. The KU website, and its off-shoot recruiting sites, demand that my schedule be constantly filled with event coverage and increasing “image” photography. Things have to be new and fresh.
The same applies to video. If you have been to Late Night in the Phog over the years, you might have noticed there has been a big change in the event with the use of more and more videos and less skits and live entertainment. Those videos might recap the season or highlight a storied heritage, but they are also “selling” Kansas basketball to fans and a long line of recruits with all the amped up imagery and pulsating sound.
Many of our action photographs are often used in these videos. However, for the first time I was asked recently to take specific photographs for women’s basketball’s new game-day introduction video. I am not used to having so little creative control over a project. I admit I didn’t always understand the hows and whys of what was being done. It was a good learning experience for all. I am hopeful the images shot last week in a darkened Allen Fieldhouse will be integrated well into the video.
Douglas Shepperd from Rock Chalk Video directed the project and Rock Chalk’s Dave Pedersen shot most of the video. The video will debut at the women’s regular season opener on November 14. Here are some photos to give you a feel of the shoot – but not of what will be seen in the video. Have to save those for the debut.
With that done, I already have new football recruiting photos to begin work on this week. I’m anxious to see what becomes of them. Trust me, I never know. I don’t have time to dwell on any of it for very long. Some new idea or trend is out there waiting.