Photographing the Big 12 Championship was a nightmare.
And, not for the reasons you’d might expect. Enjoy.
Part 1 | THE RANT
I was almost ready to give it up. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to happen.
The night before freezing rain covered trees and streets leaving more than 58,000 without power.
5 days prior I was prepared for this opportunity.
I checked out and paid for my rental equipment for the Bedlam game. I bought water-proof insulated boots, wind/water-proof pants, and gloves. I was ready for the weather. But not so much for a last minute change of plans.
When I arrived at the camera shop to pick up my equipment, they were closed. The ice had left them without power. Inside was the lens I needed to shoot the Big 12 Championship.
At first I was calm, collected and alert. After 45 minutes of waiting and surfing the web looking for a point of contact I began to panic.
I decided to call another shop in OKC that was still open. Thankfully they had something I could use. It was a definite downgrade as far as the speed of the lens, but at least it was something.
I checked out the lens and headed for Stillwater, Oklahoma. The drive, with traffic, was roughly two hours. I had one hour before kickoff when I arrived.
I’d never been to Boone Pickens Stadium, so I scoured through a sea of orange to find the media entrance. I got my credentials. Then I searched for the media gate to get inside the stadium.
The media gate was relocated because the game was so close to kickoff. More walking.
After I found the gate, a gentleman went through all of my equipment. I started asking where the photo-work room was located. After checking out my photo-vest and securing my equipment 20 minutes later I was on the field.
Part 2 | THE EXPERIENCE
The stadium was beautiful. Pistol Pete held his cockeyed grin and waved pistols in the air. I felt the tension in my fingers as I gripped my camera. For me, every shot mattered. I’d worked all season for this game. This was my moment.
I raised my lens alongside various media outlets across the state and country. I was ready, sort of. I forgot to bring a weather cover for my equipment.
The freezing drizzle was definitely going to be an issue for my equipment. Thankfully, Steve Sisney (The Oklahoman) gave me an extra cover and showed me how to use it.
I positioned myself for the Sooners running on the field. They were feet in front of me. I shot with my 17-35mm.
I reviewed my images. The shots were out of focus. I brushed it off. I kept shooting. At halftime I went to upload a a few images for The Daily. My computer crashed.
I had 15 great shots for the world to see and no way to share them. I’d been running around like a crazy person since 2 pm. It was 9 pm and I was still freaking out. The second half started. My computer wasn’t responding.
I ran out of the tunnel to grab a few shots while my computer was rebooting. Half way through the third, I checked. Computer was still struggling. I made it back to the field with 5:00 min left in the 4th.
Part 3 | THE MOMENT
After a day when hell froze over and nothing was working, I experienced the moment. The clock expired. Sooners ran on the field in celebration. It was madness. So many moments, expressions and choices. I tried to catch them all (thank God for my poke’mon childhood). I don’t know what I did in my life to deserve front row tickets to that celebration—but it was awesome.
Eventually, players mingled over to fans and celebrated. It was perfect.
I did my best to capture those moments. Some of them are out of focus. But, I don’t care. Yes, I want perfection. But it’s not always going to happen.
The most important thing I learned from the Bedlam game—a moment captured is a perfect moment.
It’s not the composition, the focus, the exposure. Yes, those things matter.
Ultimately, it’s the emotion of the image.
It’s putting yourself at the right moment in time. It’s not giving up when your options have run out. It’s relying on those who have come before you (Thanks Steve). It’s drinking coffee at 3:00 a.m. at a Waffle House and feeling proud for a hard days work. And, it’s one helluva football season.