"You shoot too pretty"

I was taught from day one to see different. If there is a pack of photographers on the left, go right. If the action seems straight ahead, look behind. Whatever you do, don’t do what everyone else is doing. This advice has carried me pretty well through the years. 

One genre of photography I always enjoyed was sports. I’ve covered contests big and small, backyard brawls to prime time bowls. No matter if it was basketball or Bocchi, I tried to apply the lesson I learned so long ago – be different, work an angle, shoot tighter, shoot looser, capture the moment after the action, and always, look beyond the playing field.

Working this way can have its drawbacks if you’re working for a publication. While you might capture a different view of the game, it might not be the right view or the most storytelling picture for that contest. Alex Persons, a UPI wire service photographer, told me in early 1980’s, “You shoot too pretty.” 

He wanted Gladiator. I gave him Swan Lake. 

I was ok with that.