Complacency Is Suicide

Earlier this summer I was asked by my assignment editor to cover most all of the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates home games at PNC Park. Growing up going to baseball games at Three Rivers Stadium with my Pap, I couldn’t be happier to cover the team I grew up watching.

Now, granted, this is not the same 1992 team that included Barry Bonds, Doug Drabek, and Andy Van Slyke. But after Sid Bream of the Atlanta Braves slid safely across home plate in Game 7 of the NLCS and 19 losing seasons later for the Bucs, it’s exciting to watch the development of all of these young players like Andrew McCtuchen, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and Pittsburgh’s own Neil Walker.

But in covering 70-80 baseball games a year, it’s easy to get too comfortable in how you shoot a game. Some photographers could easily look to make the same set of pictures, from the same spot, with the same lens and composition. This can almost be career suicide for someone like myself who is young freelancer and still learning many things.

However, there are many good things about covering the same team for as many games as I do. I think most importantly is knowing the routines and rituals of all of the players. This allows me to better predict certain moments and from which angles those moment would look best from. Like they say, luck favors the prepared! I’m also able to make pictures of different moments and have multiple chances at shooting the best version of that moment.

So as easy as it would be to just make the same pictures night after night from the same location in the stadium, I’m always pushing and separating my work from all of the other images that night by improving on the details and by shooting slightly different than anyone else. One thing that I was told from the beginning by one of the best sports photographers and someone who has mentored me for years, Al Bello, was to not worry so much about missing a moment when going out and shooting a different picture from a different angle. In what I’ve noticed, that’s where a lot of portfolio pieces come from.

As cliche as this saying is in the photo community, don’t be afraid to try something different. Go where everyone else isn’t – you might be surprised what you get!

This month, my next step is to move around a little more above the playing field. Here are some of my personal favorite images from thus far in the season. And oh yeah, the Bucs most recent time spent in 1st Place in the NL Central division, was the first time doing so since 1992. Playoffs?

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WordPress: ‘Complacency Is Suicide’ – Images by Jared Wickerham

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