Friday, August 29, 2008

Slime Time...

Last week was welcome week for the three local universities. The week was spent doing all kinds of bonding activities with the idea that these kids would make new friends by making fools of themselves and doing disgusting acts. The different activities range from the tame to the downright nasty. McMurry University's "Slime Olympics" is the latter. Some of the events include the shaving cream hair do (see above) and the human cake, where one member of the team gets ingredients like oil, eggs, milk, chocolate syrup and flour piled on them. Then the team carries the person to the other end of the field, the team who's person has the most ingredients still on them wins.
After all the events, the highlight is the top 4 teams have a relay where they see who can run and slide across a homemade slip-n-slide into a pit of most of the crap they washed off from earlier events. The team with the fastest time wins. It really makes me miss college. The only difference is in a public university, we were usually coming up with these ideas on our own, and most people weren't exactly sober! Ahhh good times!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This one time... at band camp

Well, football isn't the only two-a-days I've been shooting lately. On Thursday after my original photo column idea fell through I got lucky and noticed the Abilene High band was wrapping up its summer band camp.
The original plan was to do a photo page on the three local high school's bands. The problem was, I was only able to get a hold of one band director. One of the school's websites said they were practicing at 4pm, so I left early from the AHS practice to go all the way across town. When I got there the band was no where to be found. So, I had to go into damage control and rush back across town and get some quotes from the band director, and hopefully get a few more shots.
Well, I guess I lucked out, as I pulled into the parking lot they had just finished practice, and I saw water balloons flying through the air. It was also the one shot I knew I was missing I had plenty of marching and playing instruments but had only one shot of a water break or anyone showing they were having a good time. Then after they doused each other with water balloons they pulled out their coolers and water bottles and doused each other with them. I guess things worked out well... now I just need to come up with a photo column idea for next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kicking off football season...

So over the last two weeks I've spent pretty much covering football, football and more football. If you've never experienced high school football in Texas, and more specifically West Texas it's a pretty big deal. How big? Well, our annual football preview section is a 150 page tab! So, the first two weeks of the season are spent shooting mugs shots pulling file photos, and driving all over the area shooting features.
Over the course of two weeks I've driven over 1,200 miles, visited 28 area high schools, shot over 900 different mug shots and shot over 3,000 frames of football. Drank countless gallons of water and sweated it out nearly as fast and collected an armful of ant bites.
There were a lot of long days and I spent a lot of time in my car. But it was fun too. It's good PR on the part of the newspaper going out to these towns we may not be able to get out to cover a game for another 3 or 4 months or at all this season. I've always felt this was a really important assignment for this reason. Also, showing the newspaper cares enough to actually leave town and go out there shows that coverage is important to our readers (something that we have not always done a good job of by a few past sports editors).

Sunday, August 10, 2008


One thing newspapers are notorious for is doing the same story over and over.I swear every time gas prices go up or down 10 cents/gallon there is a story about it. Construction stories are pretty much the same. I think this is the fourth construction story I've shot this year. Obviously, I wanted to find something a little different.

When I came across this hotel I saw all the scaffolding around the building and the workers putting up the building wrap. On the backside of the building was a big empty field. So I parked my car and walked out to the middle of the field and basically camped out there for about forty minutes waiting for the workers to be spread out enough to make the photo interesting.

It's pretty nice to have a day with few enough assignments to be able to just sit in the field and wait for my shot to happen. All too often I'm pressed for time and can't wait for things to progress. This one worked out nicely.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Hey watch out, there's ants all over the field"

Monday was the first day of football practice. In West Texas that's a really big deal. In fact, it's huge. It's also the official start of the photo part of the of the yearly football tab (More on that later). This year was no different than any other. I spent the day driving all over the area visiting seven schools shooting mug shots of every varsity player for the first of four days of our annual "football tour."

The first day is usually pretty nice, it's a long day but most of the coaches are veterans and since we keep nearly the same schedules every year it's no surprise when we show up. Also, since it's the first day of practice sports always needs a team practice photo for the next day's paper.

The great thing about practices are you can usually get in pretty close and use a wide angle lens, giving you a different look than you would see in a game. Anyone who knows me knows I love my wide angle lens and have no problem laying on the ground and getting a little dirty to get a shot. Well, Monday in Snyder was the same. I was shooting players exercising and was laying on some semi-tall grass on the practice field. Next thing I know I feel a little tingling on my arm. After the players past I hear the Snyder coach, Chad Rogers, who is probably the coolest and easiest guy in the area to work with, yelling to me, "Hey Tommy, be careful there's red ants all over this field!".

I look down at my right forearm and it's covered in them! My response, "Thanks! I think I found them!" After wiping them off and watching my arm swell up rather quickly, the only thing I could do was laugh about it. It did help out a little to see that I got a shot I was happy with.

Outside of being itchy all week, and a co-worker telling me I look like I have track marks on arm like a smack addict, The 30 or so bites I have are healing up. I'm sure it's not the only stupid thing I'll do this week... just the first.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Carnival is Coming to Town....

Just an outtake from a feature photo I shot while I was out shooting football mugs and practice (more on that later in the week).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Football Wives

Football in Texas is as close to a religion as you'll find. And, the first Monday in August is the start of it all. Practice begins for small schools all across the state. Our Sunday front page story this week was about the coaches wives, and how they deal with their husbands' jobs for the four months that their husbands are gone for six days a week and a minimum of 12 hours a day. Over a two day period I shot portraits of six of the 40 or so area coaches plus their wives. I wasn't sure what exactly to expect. Most coaches aren't real fond of having their photo taken. However, the group that I shot last week were all great to work with. Especially when I told them we were putting the wives in the foreground and they got to take a backseat on this one. The funny part was not one of the men complained, most joked that was the way it was anyway and were happy to be in the background.
The only problem with shooting six different couples was trying to make six different photos. I tried to vary things a little in where they were shot. Some were at the stadium, some in the locker rooms, the one above was in the coach's living room at his home (a place he probably won't be spending a whole lot of time in come next week), and one was shot in the athletic office with the mascot in the background.
It was a fun little mini-project to shoot in preparation for the upcoming football season. And, I think it's kind of a nice story to have since no one really thinks about the women who do a good bit of the work at home while their husbands are on the football fields.