Indiana Pacers and Motorola

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

The NBA season is about to get underway, so I thought it time to finally share this shoot from last season.  The Indiana Pacers hired me to document the inaugural game for their partnership with Motorola.  I was brought in to capture some pre-game shots in the locker room and game action photos that highlighted the new patch.

It was a fun challenge to highlight a 2.5″ patch within the context of game action. I used a Canon 1DX camera body and 400mm f/2.8 lens. This allowed me to get very close up with the shots I was taking and the patch stood out as a result.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Changing Angles

I always like to see what other angles will yield. Getting higher up in the stands and shooting downwards with a super telephoto lens places the court as the background and really isolates the subject. I really like the scoreboard in the shot below as a visual element.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

High & Low

The two images below show different angles on a similar play. The image on the left was taken in the stands, the right side from the floor.

I like the cleaner background on the right image, but I also like the perspective of being at eye-level on the left photo.

However, shooting from the stands runs the risk of interlopers getting in your frame. That blur on the left image is a cotton candy vendor who wandered into the frame with less-than-ideal timing.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Get Close

My style of photography involves getting as close as I can. Typically that means I like to move physically close to the subject.

However, that’s obviously not possible with professional sports, so I enlisted the aid of a Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens. This beast weights about 8.5 pounds and the glass at the widest is about 6.5″ in diameter. Not something I want to use every day, but for getting super-close, sharp images with great background blur, it was perfect.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Access

One of the perks of working for the Indiana Pacers and not a media outlet is the special access.

Getting close to the bench during a timeout allowed me to get some unique angles that aren’t afforded most photographers. Also, shooting some images in the locker room before the game was a unique experience.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

Always on the Lookout

Even when I have a very specific task (like getting shots highlighting the sponsor patch), I make sure to get other good shots when I see them. These could have other uses for the client.

Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship
Indiana Pacers and Motorola US sponsorship

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Related Content

We definitely have lots of sports stuff to peruse. Here are a few more posts…

Indiana Pacers Premium Experiences

In October I was commissioned to document the Indiana Pacers premium experiences.  They want to give fans looking to purchase tickets a sense of the available spaces during a game.  It was fun to get a first-hand view of all the awesome areas throughout Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

In this post, I’ll talk about how I find good subjects, use available light, and layer images.  These are three aspects I take into account in order to be able to tell a client’s story. 

Indiana Pacers Party Suites

Finding Good Subjects

Another of the Indiana Pacers premium experiences are the Party Suites (above). This photo (and every photo from this shoot) was completely un-staged and un-rehearsed.  These are real fans enjoying a Pacers game.

While shooting, I look for a combination of factors to be able to get this type of shot candidly.  Good natural light and a location that give sense of place is typically where I start.  Then I look for subjects who seem engaged.  At a sporting event, this is usually people who are cheering, laughing and/or talking with friends.  

indiana-pacers-high-five

In the above photo, select fans have the opportunity to line up as the players enter the court for high fives.  For this image, I focus on one person to show their experience.  I chose this kid for a couple reasons. One, his smaller size is a nice contrast to the larger players. Secondly, he seems to be in awe of the moment.  Because of the low angle, the viewer can see things on the kid’s level, including how large the player’s hand is in comparison to his own.  The other hands in the image provide depth of field and form a frame around the kid, drawing the viewers eye to him.  Yes, these are all things I’m thinking in the moment I’m taking the photo.

Using Available Light

The Lightbound Cafe (above, left) is an Indiana Pacers premium experience that’s a courtside club: a full-scale bar with plenty of draft beers and pub food.  For most shoots (including all photos in this post), I work only with available light.  This serves two functions.  First, it allows me to document a scene without disturbing the subjects.  Secondly, it retains the atmosphere and ambiance of a location.  The images better reflect what it’s actually like to be in the space.

Indiana Pacers fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Layering

The theater boxes in the Lexus Loft (below) are super spacious with all-inclusive gourmet food and drinks.  My goal with the shot below is to use layering to show the space of the theater boxes themselves while placing them in the context of the arena as a whole.  That way you can experience the view you have while seated in this space.

In my view, there are three different layers in this photo. For one layer, the focus is on the court, which is your focus when you sit in these seats.  The second layer is the crowd as a whole.  I shot wide here to show the full size of the arena and give a sense of the entire fieldhouse.  The third layer is the theater box in the foreground.  The wide perspective and my close proximity to the box highlight its size and space.  As a result of these layers, a more complete story is told in one image.

For aspiring photographers, read my post about how to improve your sports photography.  If you’re a sports fan, you can check out more action at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in these posts about high school basketball and wrestling state finals.

Choose Your Own Indiana Pacers Premium Experiences

After checking out all the Indiana Pacers premium experiences, I’d have a hard time choosing one for me, personally.  While courtside has amazing action, the food available in the suites and clubs is definitely a draw.

Click here to see the Indiana Pacers premium experiences website with my photos.*

*Note: Not ALL the photos on the Indiana Pacers premium experience site are mine, but based on what you see in this post, I’m sure you’ll recognize the images I shot.

Anything for the Shot

Nat Fein Babe Ruth Yankees Time Magazine
Nat Fein’s famous photo of Babe Ruth

In 1948, Nat Fein shot this photo of Babe Ruth shortly before his death. Photographers were gathering together to get a shot of Ruth’s face, but Nat “got a feeling” and headed behind Ruth and captured this image, which was the first sports photograph to win a Pulitzer Prize.

I’ve been greatly influenced by this photograph in my career. I shoot many events where there’s a slew of photographers and I pride myself on getting shots no one else has. Because of this photo, whenever I see a group of photographers, I head another direction and I’m always pleased I did.

Recently a friend of mine, Bill Crawford of Harbor Pictures, noticed my particular approach had been documented peripherally in a print on display at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

The following image is part of Keating’s Hoosier Hardwood project from the 2017 IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals. You might notice a group of photographers on the left in the background.  And then on the right, you’ll see me, lying on the floor by myself.

The resulting photo…

You can see the rest of my favorites from the 2017 Indiana Men’s Basketball State Finals here.

Finally, I’d like to note that Mr. Keating obviously deserves credit here too:  in order to get that perspective he was shooting from a unique perspective as well.  Not that he needs my stamp of approval!  He’s had a long and distinguished career in photojournalism.

Share in the comments, when have you pushed the limits in your photography getting in a unique position that paid off? What about in other kinds of art or work?

IHSAA Boys Basketball Finals

Basketball in March.  It’s crazy.  Insanity.  Lunacy.  Delirium, even.  There should be a term that applies specifically to this phenomenon.  Any ideas?

With all of your basketball viewing options this time of year, IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals is among the best.  A few of these players will go on to the NCAA to have the bragging rights of millions of office workers riding on their backs as they play in that most famous of tournaments.  But the majority will play competitively for the last time on this day.  And you can tell by the way they leave it all on the floor that they don’t want to walk away with any regrets.

This year saw three of the four games decided by 3 points or less.  Were you at any of the games this year?  What was your favorite moment?  For many, myself included, it was watching Oscar Robertson  (12x NBA All-Star and captain of the 1955 Crispus Attucks championship team – first in the nation from an all-black school to win a state title), as he placed medals around the necks of the 2017 3A champs from his alma mater.

Tell us about your IHSAA Basketball State Finals memories from any year in the comments below.

  

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you are a true basketball fan!  As a reward, there are even more photos, viewable in full screen mode, in a super-secret gallery on my website.  Click this link!

Electric Atmosphere

When a game is packed with fans, there’s an energy that undeniably affects how the players play, especially when a close game gets down to the final minutes.  Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals always provide this type of electric atmosphere.

Seeing small-town schools play is another great component to these championships because, in some cases, you have to assume the entire community is present.  Frequently these schools bring as many fans as the largest in the state.

Add to this an opportunity for kids to play in a first-rate NBA arena, thanks to sponsorship from the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, and you’ve got something you know all the players, coaches and fans there will never forget. Stop and watch these athletes before and after the games as they take in the experience. It’s a cool moment to actually witness someone form a memory of a day they’ll certainly look back on as one of the best of their lives.

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

To call the new Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at Indiana University a renovation is to greatly understate its transformative effect.  Designed by CSO Architects and built by Shiel Sexton, the new south lobby features a soaring glass entry with modern design and technology, while retaining some key touches from the past to honor the program’s legacy.

These photos were shot for a feature in the Visit Bloomington 2017 Visitors Guide.  More images can be seen in this ZDP gallery.

The south lobby atrium.

The south facade (left) faces campus, welcoming visitors to the newly remodeled Simon Skjodt Assmebly Hall. The scoreboard that sat over center court from 1983-2005 was halved and put at the east and west sides of the south lobby. And yes, it does keep the score during games.

Center court from 1976-95 adorns the wall of the west lobby.

A new terrazzo floor features a giant crimson IU logo at its center.

The IU mens basketball team is introduced for the 2016-17 season at Hoosier Hysteria on October 22, 2016. Additions to the facility include all-new seating, a massive scoreboard and The Henke Sprit of ’76 Club (beneath banners in background).

 

GO HOOSIERS!!!

 

Improve Your Sports Photography

Usually when people ask me about getting better sports photos, the question is focused around what equipment to buy.  For this post, I want to provide advice for parents, students and aspiring photographers on how to improve sports shooting.

1) Get close.  The best thing you can do is physically move yourself as close to the action as you can.  Don’t rely on the equipment to do that for you.  A lot of my favorite shots are moments that happen before, after and in between action, and don’t require a long lens to capture.

Capturing emotion up close by physically standing near the subjects with a wider angle gives the viewer a sense of being right in the middle of the action, rather than viewing from afar.
Capturing emotion up close by physically standing near the subjects with a wider angle gives the viewer a sense of being right in the middle of the action, rather than viewing from afar.

This is a great shot to illustrate getting close.  That’s me looking like I’m about to get run over.  I made it out of the way.  It wasn’t until later that I actually got knocked down.  Obviously, I didn’t take this shot, so thanks to Matt Kryger of the Indy Star for sending this over.

2) Communicate.  Plan ahead and ask coaches about shooting before game day.  They’re happy to have other students and parents document the action.  Let them know what you’re hoping to accomplish.  If you’re upfront and low-maintenance, they’re usually very welcoming and help get you close to the action to get some great images of their team.  I say usually because some coaches can be intimidating.  If you’re nervous to approach a head coach, start with an assistant or the Athletic Director.  The AD is there as a liaison between the community, school and athletic department, so communication and approachability are typically strong suits.

01_ihsaa_2152
I was on site at for an IHSAA basketball sectional game about 1.5 hours early to touch base with the coach about shooting pregame in the locker room. Thanks to Arsenal Tech coach Jason Delaney (center) for being so welcoming.

3) Be patient.  The more people are used to seeing you around, the more you’ll start to blend into the background and find great candid images.  There’s always a period of adjustment where people will mug for the camera, so don’t be worried if that happens a lot at first.

07_ihsaa_2611
Students love to get right into the camera and ham it up, but that’s not what I want. I look for genuine reactions to what they’re watching. By hanging around near the student section for 5 minutes or so, they start to ignore me and go back to watching the game, providing me the real opportunity I’m seeking for a great photo.

4) Go early/stay late.  Before crowds arrive or after they leave can offer some interesting and unique moments that most people don’t get to see.  Another benefit is that you can experiment with shooting angles you couldn’t during a game, like standing center court (I almost typed center quart).

Shooting this angle during a game would be impossible. The camera was flat on the floor ON the baseline, which would probably get you kicked out if you tried it during the game.
Shooting this angle during a game would be impossible. The camera was flat on the floor ON the baseline, which would probably get you kicked out if you tried it during the game. This photo features Lawrence Central standout Kyle Guy.

Posing for a photo for moms & dads the state championship trophy.
Carmel High School swimmers posing for a photo for parents after winning the state championship. Shots with the whole team are nice to have, but seeing one or two athletes holding a giant trophy can make for an interesting photo.

5) Get back.  Ok, so I said to get close, yes, but then get as far back as you can to find a different perspective.  Show the arena/venue as a whole.  Some gyms have a track around the upper half that provides a unique angle.  Do something different.

This sectional matchup was absolutely packed. I had to get to the highest point in the gym to fully show the crowd.
This IHSAA sectional matchup between Lawrence Central and Arsenal Tech was absolutely packed. I had to get to the highest point in the gym to show the size of the crowd.

Cheerleaders warm up at the edge of the court before a game. This gym had a raised track that offered this great angle.
Pike High School Cheerleaders warm up at the edge of the court before a game. This gym had a raised track that offered this great angle.

6) DETAILS.  Keep an eye out for interesting details.  A piece of equipment, a message written on a shoe, eccentric clothing: Any small thing that catches your attention will probably make for an interesting photo.

I noticed this kid's shock of hair and thought it would make an interesting detail. Then when he ran is fingers though it, the photo really came together.
I noticed this kid’s shock of hair and thought it would make a cool detail shot. Then when he ran is fingers though it, the photo really came together.

I hope this post helps give some insight into how I work and gives some helpful advice as you pursue your hobby or potential career.  I always welcome questions through this blog or email!

Oh, and one note: All of these photos were from this year so far, except that cheerleader shot.  It was from 2015, but I hadn’t posted it yet and it’s my blog, so I’ll do what I want.

If you want to see a gallery of my basketball photos from 2016 through March 1st, here’s a link: http://www.zachdobson.com/IN-BBALL-2016/1