Due to conflicts at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, the annual Sports Photography Workshop moved from its usual late June/early July date to May. The Workshop’s welcome dinner was held last Friday and activities concluded Thursday night.
What did not change was the fabulous interplay between instructors and students. This workshop remains the premier sports seminar because of that. Study the names in the group photograph. It is obvious the level of photographic firepower was amazing.
Naturally, Rich Clarkson remains the majordomo of the event as he has now for 27 editions. His powerful heritage as a photographer and leader set the standard for which the rest of us have worked to attain in our careers and during the Workshop. While he always opens and closes the day’s activities, Clarkson willingly stands back and lets each of the instructors shine.
Dave Black and Joey Terrill demonstrated new ways to look at artificial light to enhance powerful sports images or help create dynamic portraiture. Beside amazing everyone with his dare-devil photo skills, adventure photographer Keith Ladzinski also brought a new marketing approach for his work that provided valuable lessons for young and old. Richard Mackson still perplexed me with the technical wizardry he creates for image delivery, but such work paves the way for the less tech savvy, like me, to take advantage of the valuable advancements. The same applies to the powerful nature photographer Bob Smith, who worked during the week to help with image flow and archiving.
Colorado Springs Gazette photographer Mark Reis impressed all with his small newspaper roots that have shined brightly from the grandeur of Olympic coverage to his beautiful and thoughtful athlete of the week portraits. Meanwhile, Brad Smith, the sports picture editor of the New York Times was a must hear for everyone. His knowledge of the changing world of sports photojournalism are critical if students are to succeed beyond the classroom setting of the week.
Mark Terrill and Bob Rosato simply are two of the most powerful sports photographers in the world today. Mark Terrill has been the Associated Press’ Photographer of the Year for many, many years. Working for the AP is a grinding job filled with constant deadlines. Just to survive those demands is an accomplishment in itself. To produce the quality of work Terrill does year after year is stunning.
The addition of Sports Illustrated’s Bob Rosato really added to the week’s events. As one of the few shooters at the top of SI pyramid, Rosato displayed brilliance in presentations filled with helpful insights I will incorporate in my work immediately.
For me, the week filled rapidly with on site work with students at events ranging from a collegiate conference championship lacrosse match in Denver, a massive Denver mountain bike race strung out over a ten-mile course and the Dutch National Track Cycling Team training at the velodrome. I reviewed nine portfolios and made two presentations to the group at the Olympic Training Center Auditorium Monday evening and in the classroom the next morning about my work for Kansas Athletics. Surely, the lone University of Missouri student photographer must have been in agony as he watched KU picture after picture from this year flash up on the screen.
It is fair to say that every year I am completely humbled by my inclusion in such a powerful talent pool. Working with an illustrious cast of shooters, and helping a group of engaged students, is the recharge my work batteries sorely need at the end of a long school year. For that, I am truly thankful each year.
I labored to get to the event this year since KU events come rapid fire during May. I was working on my presentations late into the first two nights in Colorado. Amazingly, all KU teams competed on the road last weekend. That might never happen again if the May dates continue.
Laura had to stay behind since the workshop fell just a week before finals for the many athletes she advises. One half of Team Kansas was missing, and instructors and manufacture reps made it clear it was the prettier half. One staffer wondered whether Laura could present my work and just leave me behind. I think he was joking?
Behind all these big names are a handful of people who do not get enough credit. Brett Wilhelm organizes and keeps this event running smoothly every year with the help of other Clarkson employees you can see in the group photograph. Sadly, missing is my good friend and former KU football player, Chris Steppig, who was off taking care of business at the time of the photograph. Ron Taniwaki brings the full support of Nikon with an array of cameras and lens beyond imagination the students can use daily. Jody Grober from Roberts Distributors in Indianapolis fills another room with the latest in high-tech support gear and makes sure manufacture reps are on hand to answer any questions.
Finally, so much credit must go to the students. The cast includes college-age students and older men and women looking for new opportunities to satisfy their sincere desire to be better sports photographers. They come from as far away as Singapore, Australia and England. What a delight it is to see how fast they advance their skills during the week. Each morning, the entire staff critiques their previous day’s work. These fast-moving sessions are challenging for the staff and beneficial for the students. By the next morning, the proof of improvement illuminates the screen.
By the end of the week, I am so tired. Yet, it saddens me that my time with these wonderful people must end. My hope is that this heart-warming story exemplifies the good feelings a week at this outstanding workshop provides.
Dave Black shares annually a story during the first night of the staff presentations. While covering the Olympics for Newsweek, Black kept cookies in a camera bag. Black discovered many doors could be opened with the simple question, “Wanna cookie?”
Mark Reis, the next night, confirmed that the simple gesture of handing out cookies after asking the same question helped him many times during his Olympic coverage.
The truth is a simple cookie can become a symbol of friendship and camaraderie in many powerful ways. On the third night, when the time came for my presentation, I dug into my bag and produced a package of Oreo cookies. As people took one, I hoped they understood I was saying thank you for all their kindness and inspiration when I asked, “Wanna cookie?”