Friday, September 15, 2017

HDIC Rules: Integrity before Photography

One of my former bosses, who used to be a photographer, once told me that I should never do sports photography.  I found this a really weird piece of advice, so I asked him why that was so.  He explained to me that being a sports photographer corrupts you if you aren’t careful (explaining that the bosses usually only want “juicy” photos of players– that’ll be explained in a bit).  A few months later, I was honored to receive permission from Pitt Athletics to photograph an upcoming Pitt Panthers Game and remembered my boss’s advice.  I’ll be posting about the actual events in a couple weeks, but one of the things that I pride myself in my photography is integrity.  That’s what I’d like to explore in this post.

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Through the visitor tunnel on game day.  Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
One thing you quickly notice on the field is how the “professional” photographers all have this little clique.  They all seem to know each other, probably from covering these events for a long time, and they all seem to be annoyed by the “amateurs” on the field.  I’ve seen them yell at some of the less-experienced photographers for the University (whether they are students part of the Pitt News or Student Affairs, etc).  They don’t care about anything else going on except for what the football team is doing.  Their focus is 100% on the field, not even the benches.

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Heinz Field from the South End Zone facing the student section dubbed “The Panther Pitt”.
Now, let me tell you: there’s a whole bunch of stuff going on elsewhere.  There are people being honored for different things.  There are interactions going on on the benches that show a better view of the football teams. 

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Two Pitt Team members exchanging a special handshake during the game.
There’s the cheerleaders, dance team, and band if you’re into that sort of thing (Which is another post I’ll have later this year).  Yes, there is a football game, and that’s important, but that’s not the only thing that matters.

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Pitt Dance Team performs during a break in the football game.
Another thing you notice on the field is how the “pros” have a lack of morals.  When a player gets hurt and is down on the field, you can often see these photographers taking pictures of the downed player, or the player being taken off the field, whether under their own power or not.  Why?  Do you want to have a photograph of what could potentially be a player’s last time playing if he was injured too badly?  I don’t.  This is the closest thing I have to an image of a player being down on the field, and luckily he was only out for three plays before coming back in:

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James Conner scores a touchdown but injured his ankle during play.  He would walk off under his own power and return to the game a few plays later.
There are plenty of things to take photos of while a player is being attended to, and of course, you don’t have to take photos every second of the game.  But hey, maybe that’s why I’m still an
amateur photographer.
Now this, of course, is bigger than just a football game.  If I’m out shooting an event in public and someone asks me to avoid them in photos, I’m going to.  Even though in Pennsylvania it would be legal for me to take their photo, I’m not going to do so.  I will always respect the wishes of those I’m photographing, whether directly or indirectly.  If that means I won’t ever become a “professional” photographer, then so be it- I’d rather keep my integrity and morals intact.
~AMH

All images from the Pitt vs. Syracuse Game, November 26, 2016 at Heinz Field.
Images shot on a Canon Rebel T5 with a Tamron 18-200 f/3.5-6.4 VC Lens with a variety of settings.
All images copyright © 2016 Allen Howard/HDIC Productions

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