Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dispatches from Clearwater

Ryan Howard walks off the field to head to the dugout.

Its Tuesday. I think.

Part of covering Spring Training for a wire service is that I'm on my own here.  No support, no resources, no reporters bird dogging anything for me.  There are 12 teams in the grapefruit league and I have to follow my instincts....

What's a photojournalist to do?  The same thing a photojournalist always does - be resourceful.

I follow way too many beat writers on twitter.  Some have helped me immensely (like Dennis Deitch, Ryan Lawrence, and Chris Branch of the Phillies beat, Britt from the Orioles beat) because even with the Phillies, I find myself playing "Who the Heck is That Guy" when they don't have a uniform on or its a special guest.  The PR people of the Yankees and Blue Jays have been very helpful with that.  Same with photographers from other teams like Todd from the Orioles and Will from the St Pete Times with the Rays.

You use any resource you can find to keep current (Rollins was just scratched, FYI) with lineups and the storylines coming out of every camp.

So its living the dream and groundhogs day all rolled into one.  Youre trying to avoid making the same photos day after day.  You're looking for the artsy stuff to keep yourself sane.  You shoot the stock/safe photos for 3 innings before wandering and going feature hunting, all the whilst remembering that you need to edit and send.

Other notes:

Be seen and not heard by the players. Don't interact unless they talk to you first. You're there to work, not socialize.

Professionalism. If the players see you as a pro, they MAY loosen up around you.  You still may not get that photo with that 20mm lens, but then again.... you just might. (see above photo)

The Interstate 4/275 interchange might be improved through complete demolition and redesigning. Just an absolute nightmare in the mornings.

You will not find a safe hotel near any baseball camp for less than $150/night.

Pay attention to how other photojournalists work. Dont be the guy who stands out.

Sunscreen is key.  Water is too. Always grab more than you think you will drink.

Its about the features no matter what your editor says. Make the pretty photos. You only need one of the star player.

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