I’ve been working in print and broadcast for a long time, and each medium presents its own challenges and rewards. More and more often I get the opportunity to shoot both on a single set. Last month I headed down to Miami to shoot a multimedia story for ESPN.com featuring Danell Levya, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in men’s gymnastics. I captured his World Championship routine on the parallel bars in still and motion, and the resulting images and videos are paired with Danell’s descriptions of what he experiences as he goes through the moves. You can check out the story at ESPN.com and see some more of the photos below:
I recently got back from a week in my hometown, Tarentum, PA. Far from a quiet visit home, I spent 7 days shooting the 2016 US Open at the Oakmont Country Club for ESPN.com, one of the toughest golf courses in the country. I knew going in that the tournament would be unpredictable with the difficulty of the course, and I was only more sure of that after photographing the practice runs Monday through Wednesday. Then, on Thursday it rained about three inches, probably giving the golfers a false sense of optimism with the extra drag on the lightning-fast greens.
But as the course started to dry out, the game became more and more difficult every day. Some of the top ten players like Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy didn’t even make the cut, let alone come close to winning it all. After the tournament, Jim Furyk told PGAtour.com, “Oakmont has a way to turn pars into bogeys and bogeys into doubles.”
“Rough Cut,” the photo essay I did for ESPN, clearly captures the players’ stress as they battle the crazy elements at Oakmont. For me, a photo that sticks out is the shot of Shane Lowry, his hands over his face. Earlier, he had been holding the lead by 3 strokes, and then started to fall behind. By the time he reached the 18th fairway, he had known for a while that he had lost. I took the picture of Lowry right after he putted in, and got the exact moment when he seemed to finally let go of all of the emotion he had been holding in.
Check out the photo essay at ESPN.com and take a look at the outtakes below:
I was recently interviewed by Heidi Volpe for Rob Haggart’s photography blog, A Photo Editor. We talked about the technique involved in shooting synchronized swimmer Bill May for the ESPN feature, and she even spoke to Bill May himself. Below is my introduction from the piece. Click the preview to read the rest of the interview on Haggart’s blog, or head over to my website to see the entire collection of Bill May photos.
This simple story sum things up nicely – Alfred Eisenstaedt was hired to shoot our college portraits. He came into my class of 20 kids, and he asked everyone, “What kind of photographer do you want to be?” I was one of the last kids to be asked, when it was my turn, I replied, “fashion photographer.” He asked why. He’d not asked any of the other kids this follow up question. I panicked and blurted out, “Because I like girls!” Everyone in class had a good laugh, and then Alfred later explained that being a fashion photographer is no different than being any other type of photographer. You have a subject in front of you, treat that subject in front of you the same as you would a gown on a hanger. It becomes a portrait of a gown, just as if a person was standing there.
So, I don’t look at myself or categorize myself as a sports photographer, I see myself as a photographer, and I see the subject in front of me as a subject. At the end of day, all photographs are solved with the same notes, regardless of the subject matter.”
When I was a kid, I had the privilege of attending baseball games at the old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh twice a year as a reward for my service as an altar boy. I lived for those days, being able to watch the games in seats so close to the action. I think that’s where my love for sports really started. Once I picked up a camera in my early teens, I wanted to learn how to preserve that action so that I could relish it more than only twice a year.
I had a great time following the Celtics this year, especially since they had such an unpredictable season, full of highs and lows. Some of the peak moments: Early on, Isaiah Thomas was averaging a solid 21.5 points per game; on April 1st, in one of their most exciting games of the season, the Celtics killed the NBA’s longest-running winning streak by a home team when they defeated the Warriors in Oracle Arena; and on February 5th, Avery Bradley buried the Cavs at the buzzer for one of the most memorable wins so far. Their off-season promises to be just as interesting. With 8 draft picks this year and the amount of money the team has to play with, they could potentially really shake up the roster.
I can’t wait to see what happens next with the Celtics, and I’m sure neither can all of their loyal fans. In the meantime, feel free to reminisce on the past season with some of my photos below. You can see the intensity on the players’ faces, and being that close to that kind of action never gets old. Diehard fans might also be interested in checking out the “Superfan” spot that I directed for the team last year and the editorial feature that I shot for Improper Bostonian Magazine.
I’m extremely proud to finally be able to share “Water’s Edge,” the feature I shot for ESPN The Magazine of Bill May, “the greatest male synchronized swimmer who ever lived.” Bill May had been retired as a professional athlete for 10 years and was performing in the Cirque du Soleil “O” show out in Vegas when he was yanked out of retirement to train for the milestone of his life: The first ever synchronized swimming world championship to include men.
This piece has been a long time coming–it’s been almost 9 months since my shoot with Bill. Capturing the precision and grace of athletes in motion is difficult enough–just imagine the added inconvenience of maneuvering in the water within a restricted timeframe. I had 30 minutes to shoot as Bill May and his partners Christina Jones and Kristina Lum Underwood on the pool deck. The next 3 hours were spent photographing whatever pictures I could get as they trained, fully focused and totally indifferent to my presence. Afterward, I was given just one controlled half-hour under the water to direct some of the movement.
Some of my favorite photos of last year came came from this shoot. Five of the images from the shoot were recognized at the 2015 International Photography Awards, where I won Sports Photographer of the Year. Some of the pictures will also be included in the American Photography 32 award book, which will be released next November. The AI-AP books are the “first and foremost go-to resources for art directors, designers, photo editors and art buyers who insist on assigning only the best original, thoughtful and compelling pictures.” I’m very happy about both accomplishments.
Check out more of my photos and read about Bill May’s incredible journey at ESPN.com
When asked about my strategy while shooting an enormous event like the Olympics, I said,”In competitive sports you’re always trying to look for what’s different, what hasn’t been done – there are so many photographs of the same person crossing the finish line – how do you find that iconic shot? You have no idea when it’s going to happen. My strategy is to figure out what’s going to make someone feel like they were actually at the event.”
AtEdge, a marketing program that connects art buyers and photo producers with creative professionals, recently featured me on their blog. Click the link to read the rest of the article “JOHN HUET: CAPTURING THE POWER AND VULNERABILITY OF THE COMPETITIVE ATHLETE” on their site!