Surely you have seen us around. On the sidelines, at the concerts, in classrooms, at the MU – here, there and everywhere. We crouch, we jump, we lean, but mostly we are known to hold a camera up to our eyes to take photos.
I am talking about photographers at The California Aggie. We like to think that we have the best jobs. We get the free concert tickets, the best seats to sports events and sometimes even get to fly up in airplanes with the U.S. Army, all to do what we love doing: take photos for our fellow students.
Although it may seem like a perfect world, getting the shot that we need for an assignment can be very demanding, intensive and requires a high degree of creativity that must be summoned on command. This segment in The Aggie is an effort to connect the readers of the newspaper to the photographers whom often times have very interesting stories about the photos they take.
Many people may remember this photo here. More so, many people remember the moment this photo was taken. I am talking about the infamous Bakari Grant Hail Mary catch, where the UC Davis football team went ahead to beat Northern Colorado as time expired. It was an incredible catch, and comparably the photo serves that moment justice. I was shooting this event with another fellow photographer, alternating cameras and lenses every quarter to have a fair chance of shooting with all of the “good equipment.“
By sheer dumb luck, I got stuck with the long telephoto lens for the fourth quarter. Long telephoto lenses are great for midfield shots, but are not useful at all when taking touchdown photos. I remember just how hectic the last moments of the game were. I was stuck with a lens that if used at the sidelines, would probably just take a photo of the eyes and nose of a player, leaving the rest of the scene cropped out. I felt trapped by my own camera, and needed a way out.
In response to this, I ran as far away from the game as I could to give myself a decent amount of space to frame a photo. I remember standing at the top edge of the hill, nervous, anxious and worried that I may have just made a huge mistake going so far away from the game. I didn’t have a choice as the play was going to start in the next 30 seconds. As I was waiting, several people (whom, obviously, didn’t know the magnitude of what was going to happen) came up to me and asked, “How much zoom you got on that thing?” and “What’s one of those run for these days?”
If anyone knows anything about photography, questions like those are the most annoying, especially at a time like this! I quickly shrugged off any questions and bumped several people out of the way to clear a space for myself, all of whom seemed to have suddenly spawned around me, as if out of a bad zombie horror movie. I tried envisioning the play in my head to anticipate the catch. I knew the ball was going to be thrown, I just didn’t know exactly where.
I played out a few reflex games with my wrist to prepare myself, and as I was doing so, I hear the snap. All I could do was see the ball as it was floating in the air, heading to the right of me, with two wide receivers running toward the end zone, both of whom were potential targets. I knew Grant was hot that day, so I quickly flicked my camera over to him, and calling on all of my adolescent “Street Fighter 2” skills, I button smashed. I killed that shutter. And the play ended. Next thing I know, Grant shot up off of the ground and the stadium instantly became a zoo. Crowds of people came rushing onto the field as I found myself climbing down a 12-foot wall to try to get in on all of the chaos.
I didn’t even have time to think if I got the shot, and didn’t think to check my camera after a parent asked me, “So, didjya get it?” “What?” I confusingly responded. “The shot of the catch, obviously!” In the greatest feeling of anticipation I’ve ever felt in my life, I scrolled through all my photos and saw that wow, yes I actually did get the shot. What was even more amazing was that both shots before and after the catch were out of focus, but somehow, the main shot wasn’t. All I could do was smile as I walked up the stands back to my bike. “Man“, I thought, “tomorrow’s gonna be a great paper“
DEEBA YAVROM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.