Good morning and Happy New Year to everyone!

I came here planning to share images from 2019 but I have decided to include my history with sports photography.

I’m coming up on my 4th year of photographing University of Michigan athletics for The first couple of years, I was photographing mainly softball, as well as some hockey and (men’s) basketball. I was new to photographing sports, even though I’ve been a sports fan and have played sports since around age 7. The challenges of photographing a sporting event were immediately evident to me, as well as the challenge of putting my fandom to the side as I worked to document the event. I consider it a blessing to get to cover my favorite athletics teams but also a little nerve-racking. Never greater was the challenge than when I was photographing Michigan vs. Houston, in their 2nd game of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. This was also only my 3rd time ever professionally covering a basketball game.

Michigan was 3.6 seconds away from having their season end in an upset loss. I was sitting less than 10 feet away from their bench and dreading the possibility of having to capture some “agony of defeat” photos. If you don’t recall how things ended, you can go to Youtube and type in “Jordan Poole” and the top result will have “Buzzer Beater” included. It was an incredible moment and I was able to cover the action but, I think due to being caught up in what the stakes were (and also not expecting the unexpected of a full-court run up to a miracle shot), I did not get a quality capture of “the shot” that I wanted to. I’d been shooting the late moments with a fairly wide lens, as I thought it lent well to when they were shooting free-throws and also in getting shots of the bench.

So, instead of getting an iconic image that would be looked back to decades from now, I got this:

Wide and out of focus. Also a few others like it in the next split-second.

In the moment, I thought I got the shot. It wasn’t until maybe an hour later that I found out I hadn’t. As great as the night was for me as a fan, it hurt a lot as a professional. I felt I let people down, which to me is the worst. It honestly still stings.

However, all I could really do is learn from it. Either that or just stick to portrait photography, where the moments move a little slower (or Real Estate, where nothing moves!). Now, I LOVE portrait photography but I also love other forms of the art and I had no interest in giving up shooting sports. Thankfully, Brian at mgoblog allowed me to continue to do so.

Towards the end of 2018, I decided one way for me to improve as a sports photographer was to shoot a variety of sports. Photographing each sport has its own challenges. Not only in the action you cover but in the environment you are covering it in. Outdoors vs. indoors, day vs. night, sunny vs. overcast, arena vs. gymnasium. So, now I’ve photographed more than half of the athletic teams that Michigan fields.

That leads me to 2019. I put together a gallery for mgoblog of my favorite images of last year. Included in those images are some walk-off victories and a buzzer-beater that I DID catch. The shot was made by Nicole Munger to end the 3rd quarter, versus Indiana University, on a very similar play to the Poole shot.

Munger for 3!

Did she make it?

You know it!

I plan on posting another blog soon (it’s the time of resolutions, no?) talking about how I bring portrait photography to sports. Stay tuned and please check out my full gallery of my 2019 favorites: