Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 US Open - Week 1

I am the first to admit, that I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to have gone to so many different sporting events in my career.  However, attending a tennis major is something I have not been able to do... until last week when I was asked to cover the US Open in New York City.  Although I was never very good at playing it, I really enjoy the game of tennis and was extremely excited at the opportunity to do not just go out and edit the final major of the season, but put in 11-12 hours of photography per day.

Now on the surface, you would think that tennis is an extremely easy sport to shoot.  Pick a player, focus, shoot.  Well yes and no, and this is a huge point of frustration for me as an editor when other photographers shoot it.  The fact of the matter is, I would say a vast majority of photographers pay absolutely no attention to backgrounds.  And as you know, backgrounds are a huge point of emphasis in my photography.  In my opinion, that attention to clean details is what separates the average joe from the elite.  It's those that put in the extra thought into developing their photos that makes them the best in the world.  Getty Images is famous for this style of photography, and to me it's not surprising that their photographers are some of the most well known in the world, and their agency has the most commercial licenses for the most leagues in our industry.

As this was my first time to the US Open, I knew it would take a day or two to get acclimated to the grounds, and really get to know how to move about the multiple courts over the sprawling tennis park.  So I shot a bit conservatively the first day, utilizing the courtside photo positions to get a lot of "standard" action photos from down low.  Shooting from down in those photo positions is pretty simple... pick a player, wait til' they swing, and hope they are doing it with no ball boys or umpires in the background.

In the evening session, there was the opening ceremonies so I ran upstairs to get a nice overall view of the fireworks display.

For the night cap, I also decided to start getting a bit more creative, and shot a wide angle view from down on court level.  It makes for a pretty dramatic scene with the large stadium in the background.

Now that I got my bearings and really learned my way around the multiple courts, and learned when the sun sets on each stadium, where the best angles were and ant what time of day, it was time to get creative.  Climbing high into the stands of each of the three main stadiums (Ashe, Armstrong, and Grandstand) could lead to some very dramatic images from unique angles:

I'm back home now for Labor Day weekend, but I will be returning to New York next week to finish off this two-week tournament.  I was working solo most of the first week, but in week two I will be joined by a USA Today staff photographer.  He'll most likely be working in Arthur Ashe Stadium (the main court) most of the time, which is fine by me because it will give me the opportunity to work new angles that I wasn't able to get to in my first few days there.  Check back then for some more images!


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