Dec 28 2009

Helmet Head

We have all seen the TV footage from Europe during a World Junior Championship where the photographers are hanging over the glass in the end-zone in the hopes that they can capture the decisive moment in the game. The thing that usually catches the attention of most people is that typically, the photographers have helmets on. A strange sight, no doubt, but it is quite commonplace during these events and is actually part of the safety protocol for areas of the rink where the photographers are not sheltered behind the protection of glass.

Having said that, quite often, here in Canada and abroad, many photographers enjoy the opportunity and access that the ‘suicide box’ (an exposed location between the player benches) presents for creating pictures. I particularly enjoy this position because of the ability to get close to the game and capture unique moments from a perspective most people just don’t see. Having said that, it is called the suicide box for a reason and although there is glass on 3 of the 4 sides, the position is open to the ice surface, which poses a safety risk. Given the recent attention paid to a rash of head related injuries in the game of hockey, the last thing we need is to add photographers to that list. Now, simply knowing of the inherent risks doesn’t change the fact that certain precautions can be taken to limit those risks. One of those is donning a hockey helmet for protection. Other than the fact that it looks a little odd, it really doesn’t pose too many other restraints to shooting pictures and it does offer my melon some protection against a rouge puck, stick or any other fast moving object that could exit the playing surface without warning and impair my ability to see, talk, walk chew food or simply live for that matter.

So, after little debate and the solicitation of a shiny new black helmet, I was prepared to get in on the action and capture all the action could at close range.

I am sure my brain thanks me.

MM

Photos: Matthew Murnaghan/HHOF-IIHF Images


Dec 25 2009

Merry Christmas,… Let the games begin!

Today is Christmas and my wake up call came promptly at 6:00am. I woke to a cold and white day outside, perfect for Christmas morning. But this time it is different. I am in Regina, Saskatchewan. Here in advance of the official start of the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships, scheduled to kick off on Boxing Day. The rest of my family, including my wife and little girl, is back home in Kingston. It is actually the very first time that I have been away from home on Christmas Eve and Christmas day and it really didn’t feel like Christmas this morning. Now, we did of course celebrate a few weeks ago when I was at home. My family graciously accommodated my circumstances by having our own little Christmas early, so I haven’t really missed out on anything, but still, the feeling was strange.

After a quick breakfast in the lobby lounge of the Hotel Saskatchewan, Matt Murnaghan, who is my editor for this project, and I grabbed a cab over to the Brandt Centre. This is where we would be capturing player portraits and team photos of Austria, Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia. Team Sweden did their photos yesterday so we already had 1 down and only 4 more to go.

When we arrived at the rink around 8:00am, it was still quite dark outside and with the temperature hovering somewhere around -25 degrees C. The snow made that crunching sound as we rushed to pull our gear from the cab and make our way into the shelter and warmth of the arena. That’s kind of funny isn’t it?

As we made our way down stairs and into the bowels of the rink, around to where our office is, we walked past the entrance to the ice surface, where there stood the only other person in the building, one of the guys who looks after the ice. He stood there with a hose in hand and was soaking down the near crease area with a fine mist of water. I stopped for a moment and looked on, listening to the faint sound of the water hissing out of the hose and onto the ice. The place was otherwise completely silent. Suddenly, in that moment, I felt better. I felt strangely at home. I was of course, at the rink. I was going to be around another sort of family. A sort of, hockey family. A group of people, who were coming together to celebrate a different type of special event. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how interesting it was that I could have been in any arena, anywhere and when I came to the rink, there is was a feeling of comfort.

Ironic that on this particular day, the 25th of December, there is another place I know of that many people flock to with family, friends and other people who wish to celebrate a common, special event.

Merry Christmas to all and best wishes to all those celebrating today.

MM


Dec 21 2009

Logistics, logistics, logistics.

The past 7 days just flew by and with good reason. As I am somewhere between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg at 36000 feet, on my way to Saskatchewan to provide photography support to Hockey Canada and the IIHF during the World Under 20 Championships (all so known as the World Juniors) I happen to have some time to reflect on the resources and efforts that go into planning a successful trip,… Or perhaps I am just running everything through my in my head to make sure nothing has been over looked or forgotten. Now I don’t want to mislead you, as this isn’t the first time I have worked on such a project or taken on such a task as I have planned my fair share of trips over the last 10 years and let me tell you, there have been a few beauties, just ask J.T. (Pictured below with “some” of our gear at the airport in Luxembourg) I’ll try to give you a brief overview of some of the basics that go into such an undertaking and hopefully I can do it justice. Keep in mind, I am sure this isn’t always the case for all photographers, but for the types of commercial, industrial and professional sports projects I typically take on, this is usually the norm.

In preparation for a project that will take place on-location for an extended period of time, a great deal of planning and coordination is required by a number of people, not only to complete the project, but, to do it in a professional fashion and exceed expectations, all at the same time, with as few issues as possible.

Once a project has been agreed on and the location, or locations in many cases, has been set, the task of figuring out how to get there and how to get all the right equipment there, on-time and safely, with the right paper work is just the tip of the iceberg. Then we have to look at getting the right people there, also with the right paperwork, and with the right host or local point person, with the right vehicle to move everything and everybody around is another major consideration. Then there are a great number of other details like insurance, accommodations, meals, ground transportation, distance to the shooting locations, the shoot scheduling, client relations, jet lag, lost baggage, broken or malfunction equipment, currency, both monetary and electrical, including plug shapes and adapters. You also have to consider things like, language, social and cultural protocols, immigration, import/export paperwork, flight schedules, times and changes, mobile communications and list could go on. Then there are pure project and creative elements like the quality of the location for the shoot, the light in the space available, any facility issues or constraints, shoot composition concerns, subject availability and quality of the subject performance, shooting angles and positions, the ability to adhere to the script or message of the shoot, and again, the list could go on. And finally, it comes down to getting the shot and delivering it to the client as required. Thankfully, in most cases, I have a team of people working with me; on various aspects of a project and in the end it all comes together.

Now, I don’t mean to paint a bleak picture of what it is like to plan and execute a project, rather my hope is to offer some insight into what goes into a project. And having said all this, it is still, in my opinion, one of the greatest jobs in the world and I wouldn’t change any of it or trade it for anything.

Let the new adventure begin. Be sure to check out some of the images I capture at http://www.hockeycanada.ca or http://www.iihf.com .

Enjoy,

MM

J.T. with Our Gear


Dec 6 2009

First Ovie, then Matthew Good,… Great actually!

Ok, so I haven’t contributed in a while and I apologize for that,… I’m still getting the hang of this blog thing. Never the less, here is what I have been up to lately and how things are going.

First, I was in Ottawa on November 23rd to capture some images of “Alex the Great” when the Washington Capitals were in to visit the Ottawa Senators. The game itself seemed a bit on the slow side I must admit, but of course, this is only relative and is coming after working many international level events where every game of everyday is like an all-star game. Also, Alexander Ovechkin didn’t look to be playing at the top of his game and was still, perhaps nursing an injury. The Sens pulled out the win in overtime.

After the NHL game, it was back to Kingston for a show on Saturday night featuring Matthew Good at the K-Rock Centre. Unbelievable! I have been a fan for some time, so I suppose my review is somewhat bias, but having said that, I am sure any music fan would agree that the show was top notch. They played a great set, full of favorites and new songs from their recent album release, “Vancouver”. As for Matthew Good himself, he played hard the whole night, like someone who was really into performing the music better than any other show he has played to that point.

Next it was on to producing and publishing the final bid document for 2012 RBC Royal Bank Cup in cooperation with the bid committee and the Kingston Voyageurs hockey club. Turned out very well and I imagine we are a top candidate to win the event for 2012.

Finally, to round things out, I am in full preparation mode now to kick-off my 2010 international hockey event coverage beginning with the World Juniors in Saskatchewan. I leave on the 19th of December and return on the 6th of January. I will have some more stories and insight as I near departure and then I hope to post daily with updates about how the event is going and any interesting little stories I come across throughout the event.

Well, enjoy the images.

Best,

MM