Here is the cover of the soon to be published KU track and field media guide. The outcome pleases me very much. My initial thoughts for this cover centered around the strength of KU weight thrower Mason Finley and the speed of sprinter Diamond Dixon. With the Olympics in London coming later this summer, my hope was to photograph these two outstanding athletes in an ancient Greek mythological style. Since the Olympics were born in ancient Greece, I thought of Finley as Atlas, holding the world in his strong hand, and Dixon as part human and part flying angel.
Coming up with a concept is one thing. Making it happen in a pleasing way is the real challenge. Without the enthusiasm of both Finley and Dixon, the cover never would look as good. Finley stood patiently holding a huge medi-ball striking various poses. All the while, the monster of a man joked with me that he had a body far removed from the classic Greek Olympians portrayed in ancient sculptures. Compared to Finley’s size, Dixon seems like a tiny bird. She gracefully bore her wings, found at a Halloween store, and took flight by making countless starts in the studio until her form and my timing satisfied us both.
Our graphic designer, Jackie Berra, took things from there. Truly, this is where the teamwork began. My ambition often exceeds my computer design skills. There is no shame in admitting I need someone of Berra’s talent to make some of my ideas really shine. I just love taking photographs, and as needed, enjoy working with others to make the most of what is rambling around in my mind. Berra certainly came through on this cover.
It is hard for me to consider myself an artist, yet in some small way, with a camera in hand, it does apply. Now, a great designer truly is an artist using a mouse and screen instead of paint and canvas. Too often the artistic photographer and the artistic designer butt heads and do not mesh. Finding a designer willing to listen and work closely with me is a real plus.
Working with designer Jeff Davis during my later years at the Capital-Journal was a real pleasure. He thought well ahead of the curve and showed me how computer design could enhance my visions when done properly. Davis remains an amazing talent.
Beau White made design work at KU fun. Besides being a very good friend, Beau was a fantastic designer. I wrote last year about our work on the rowing poster. He and I also collaborated on my KU men’s basketball time-lapse project in 2010. White left last summer for the corporate design world with Sprint in Kansas City. My worry was that such a strong working relationship might never be replicated.
Berra has proven me wrong with this cover. She immediately understood my concept for the cover as well as the feel and tone of the images I sought. Once we agreed, the most important task was getting out of her way. Berra the designer had to have the time and freedom to make the cover hers as well as mine. I am very happy to call it ours.
We made a few adjustments along the way to gain final approval by track and field coach Stanley Redwine, but we never really needed to waiver from our original plan. Berra proved she will be a wonderful teammate on many future projects. I look forward to working to redefine our horizons together. Hopefully, she feels the same.
As for Dixon and Finley, this summer’s Olympics probably comes too early in their careers. Hopefully, by 2016 in Brazil, these two KU athletes will have traded their KU jerseys for ones adorned with USA.
My thanks go out to Dixon, Finley and my new teammate, Jackie Berra. My belief is it was a job well done.