Cocks in the Hen House 08.04.10


 

By David Manning (@fotodave)

How do I explain photographing baseball to the world?  It’s a combination of knowing the game and reactions.  The ball starts with the pitcher.  From there, it goes to the plate and then things get interesting.  Not even the ball knows where it will end up.

I don’t like all of my photos looking the same, so I prefer to move around.  I have a routine when I photograph baseball.  I always photograph the pitcher warming up, and you’re allowed to do this from behind the plate.  The first time I did that, Joshua Fields (now a closer with the AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx) sailed a pitch right over my head.  That taught me not to dig in. Then I’ll spend one inning on the first base side.  After that I move to the third base side, then into the outfield so I can photograph in on the plate for the second time through the lineup.  Sometimes I’ll set up a remote camera behind or overtop of the plate but if I haven’t, I like to photograph from behind the plate last. I edit and transmit three photos during the game and continue working.

You have to know the basics of the game.  If there is a runner on first, look for the double play.  If there is a runner on second, look for a play at the plate.  Have a player diving for the ball?  You need to read the player and judge his dive so that you get the shot of the ball getting in the glove or just about to be in the glove – you don’t want the glove to be closed. You also have to keep pace with the game and look for any type of reaction or emotion from a particular situation.  Where is the game telling photo going to come?  Is that TV guy going to run onto the field because a certain four-letter network thinks they can do whatever they want?  (Yes, yes they will.  They will get in the way. They will get in your pictures. They will ruin your photos. They look just as annoying to me as they do to you in the stands.)

Overall, you play the odds. You have you guess, and you hope you guess right.

Then there are times you have to “Watch Out, Bro:”

You can’t tell on the replay, but there’s a photographer overtop of that dugout. All I heard was the guy sitting in the stands next to me telling me to duck and then the bat hit about 10 feet below me.  I don’t think you can hear in the broadcast what was said, but I’m pretty sure it would have violated my credentials.

The College World Series was an amazing 2 weeks of my life. Did I get a shot of Gordon Beckham‘s final home run in college?  You bet.  Did I curse for three straight days after watching the team I was covering blow a 1-0 series lead in a best of three to win a national title? Ha – did you curse when Lidge pitched a meatball to Ryan Zimmerman?

My only real “fan moment” while working in this business came when I was interning with Sports Illustrated contract photographer Gary Bogdon. It was the day before my birthday and he says we’re going to Clearwater to photograph a story on Jimmy Rollins – best birthday present EVER.  J-Roll was so cool and he offered up an autographed ball. I generally don’t get all fanboy when I’m working, but I have to admit that I geeked out when he took us into the clubhouse. 

If you’re really into baseball photos, you should follow @BradMangin on Twitter, who is a longtime contract photographer who works for SI & MLB Photos and was most recently stalking A-Rod’s 600th HR.  Brad made a career out of documenting Barry Bonds’ career in San Francisco.

Part of the reason I work as a photographer is to document these moments so that we can all remember them and see them forever.   Of course, there are a lot of moments we’d love to forget (L, BS – Lidge).  Then there are the ones we’ll never forget (W – Romero, S – Lidge, WFC).

David is an award-winning photojournalist based in Athens, Ga., specializing in editorial, corporate and sports photography. David is branching out to include wedding and commercial photography.  You can follow him on Twitter here and check out his photoblog here.

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3 Responses

  1. As a woman who’s always had a keen interest in photography, I found this interesting and informative.

  2. David, so very, very jealous! Absolutely love sports photography. Thanks for the insight into what you do!

  3. Thanks ladies.

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