Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Super Bowl

Watching all of the hype and hoopla in Phoenix leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl XLII got me thinking back to my own Super Bowl experiences.
I have friends who work for agencies like Getty and magazines like The Sporting News who photograph the Super Bowl almost every year. But covering a team for a local paper meant you would usually only get to go if your team did.
I had covered the NCAA Final Four in basketball as well as many other big events like the U.S. Open in golf. But there is nothing else quite like the Super Bowl.
The Panthers had gotten to the NFC championship a few times but had fallen short.
The game was played on Feb. 1, 2004 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Newspaper budgets were a bit better then and The Charlotte Observer sent a huge contingent to cover the team's first-ever trip to the big game.
We sent four photographers to cover pretty much everything that happened the entire week leading up to the game.
Seeing some of the footage from Media Day on Tuesday reminded me of what a crazy event that is.
I also think that Super Bowl was the start of my strong dislike for the Patriots. Even though I attempted to be an objective journalist, I was, deep-down, a Panther fan after covering them from their very beginnings.
The Panthers played a great game in Houston in what many feel was one of the best Super Bowls of all time, but the stinkin' Patriots kicked a field goal to win, 32-29.
My dislike for the Patriots has evolved since then. I'm a pretty big sports fan and Betsy said she doesn't remember me ever watching games just to root for a team to LOSE. I do that with the Patriots. There was the Spygate incident but I think mostly I really dislike coach Bill Belichick. I've seen plywood with a better personality.
I know I'm not alone in this. And I also know that winning can make many people turn against you.
But I won't let my dislike of New England taint my memories of covering the big game.
I will, however, be rooting hard for the Giants on Sunday.

"Mr Everything" Tom Brady

Brady attracted some serious attention in Houston

The Media Day throng in 2004

The Panthers take the field

QB Jake Delhomme takes a hit

I had a great seat high above the field in Houston
(photo by Observer photog Layne Bailey)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wedding planning

January is typically a slow time for weddings but a very busy time for wedding planning.
We are busy with inquiries and meetings and we thought it would be a good time to add some new content to our website to help couples with the planning process.
Photographing weddings across the Carolinas for the past five years has given us exposure to some great wedding venues. Excellent venues (like quality photographers!) book very quickly. It's a good idea to secure both early in the planning process.
Click on: Christopher Record Photography and go to Links to see some of the venues we recommend.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Apple i-rack

I got a good laugh when I saw this video on Joe Photo's blog today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Great Year!

Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of a journey.
It was one year ago that I left the friendly confines of the newspaper industry to move out on my own as a freelance photographer.
What a year it has been!
I've enjoyed working with my wife Betsy as we opened a studio in Davidson, NC, and worked to adjust to a new lifestyle. We are lucky to have a talented associate in our company photographer Laura Mueller.
After more than 20 years working at three newspapers, it's been great not having to report to someone else's office each day.
It also made me think back to the start of this endeavor. As wedding photojournalism or a more documentary approach became popular, I became interested in doing weddings about six years ago. I started doing them on the side as I continued my full-time photography job at The Charlotte Observer.
I got excellent advice and guidance from fellow journalists who had switched to wedding photography. People like Matt Mendelsohn and Gary Allen, two great photojournalists who were gracious with their ideas and experience. Also Mike Colon, an amazing wedding photographer who didn't know me from anyone when I called looking for suggestions. He spoke to me at length offering more advice.
I've also been lucky to be involved with the Wedding Photojournalist Association from its beginnings. I've watched David Roberts build the group into an amazing resource for photographers who utilize a similar documentary approach.
Along the way I've seen other former newspaper shooters like Christobal and Kathleen Perez (Azul Photography), Andrew Niesen and Rachel LaCour Niesen and Mark and Erin Adams (LaCour) and Roger Winstead make a big impact with their wedding photography. Former Sports Illustrated photographer and my good golfing buddy Jim Gund and his fellow Charleston photographer Mic Smith (Lowcountry Photojournalism) have joined the fray.
Asheville is a hotbed of wedding talent with people like my friend, one-time client and now Rockstar photographer Corey McNabb, the amazing Parker J., James and Jenny Tarpley (Visio Photography), and Regina Holder to name a few.
It's a great time to be a wedding photographer with so much excellent work being done by so many creative people.
We have been blessed with fantastic clients and we are looking forward to some incredible events this year.
It's been a great year - Cheers!
The journey continues...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Taking a Shot at Politics

Watching the presidential primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire got me thinking about the opportunities I had photographing presidents and the special challenges that came with those assignments.
I had always wanted to cover a campaign but I also knew that it would be a difficult assignment. (To see an excellent example of coverage of the John Edwards campaign, check the work of my long-time friend News and Observer photographer Robert Willett here: Edwards story. ) Willett has established a relationship with the Edwards family over the years and it really shows in his photos.
Being on the campaign trail gives photographers the opportunity for access they will never get once the candidate becomes president.
Access is often the key to great photojournalism and it has become much harder to come by in politics, sports and entertainment. Public relations and marketing interests try to control the image of their clients and don't want to allow images that they feel don't show them in their "best" light. But many people would prefer to see artists, athletes and politicians more as real people.
Regardless of your political ideals, I think it is always interesting to photograph the president. Many of my first efforts involved arriving at an airport or speech site hours in advance, going through heavy security (after the Secret Service had done background checks on information they received from the newspaper), fighting for position on a platform with other still photographers and videographers and then waiting to photograph the president with a long telephoto lens.
While interesting at first, I grew a bit tired of never really getting close to the president and getting a chance to get a better variety of images.
That changed when I got the chance to work in the national pool with the magazine and wire service photographers who travel with and cover the president as a daily assignment. I got the chance to do this on several occasions and found it much more interesting and exciting.
The president's staff would select one local photographer to be the "pool" photographer for the local area. That meant your photos would have to be made available to other newspapers in the state and region. Since The Charlotte Observer was the largest newspaper in the state, our photographers would most often get the opportunity to work as the pool photographer.
Being the pool photographer meant you would be shuttled around with the national pool photographers and you would get much closer access - often just a few feet from the president. (The first photo below was taken with a 10mm lens just a few feet from the podium).
You have to make sure to be ready to use your elbows and move quickly in this highly competitive environment.
I find the primary process a bit confusing but it is interesting. My favorite take on the events come from Miami Herald writer Dave Barry, who has some incredibly humorous observations in his column.

I was up close with the national pool when I got this shot in 2005

Again with the national pool, I was able to get a different angle as Bush arrived

Another national pool situation where I was in front of the ropes

Bush departs Charlotte

Taken with a long lens from a platform during a Fort Bragg visit

Working the crowd

Up close

I snuck in with the crowd with to get this shot of Clinton visiting Charlotte

Taken during the 1994 Final Four in Charlotte. Clinton came onto the court after Arkansas won the game

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.
Our family gathered for numerous meals and celebrations over the past few weeks. Alison had a quick trip home and is now back in London.
We wanted to thank all of our fantastic clients for a great year in '07 and we are looking forward to many exciting events in 2008.