In a few days, the third of July, will mark the day I showed up in Colorado with my mom. I decided while I am waiting for some gigs to pick up, to go back over the last 12 months and look at my sports shooting in Colorado since I have been here. This post contains a lot of photos, 24 of them, and I will discuss each one individually. I could have posted more, but 24 is more than enough. After this post, I am changing things up. This post contains larger pictures to go with the minor redesign of my website, and future posts are going to be more of a 10 spot. That will spotlight the best 10 shots from a shoot with some personal observations about the shoot, game, or whatever is going on while taking the photos. I hope you will enjoy this different view.
Soon after I got to the Denver area I bought a car and I was off and running. The first official shoot I had was covering the Aurora Theater Shooting, but being new to the area, I had no local “Press” card, so I had to finagle my way into the media area to get any shots. But my first sports experience in the area was a International Friendly between Swansea City and the MLS’s Colorado Rapids. It had been 10 years since I was in a real pro venue, but it all fell into place right away. Everyone with the Rapids were very nice and accommodating.
My next shoot was an unofficial one for me. My sister was running in the Tri-For-A-Cure race down in the Cherry Creek area, so I went to watch and take photos. It was such a beautiful day, I could not help but get some lovely lit photos.
Soon after the Tri for the Cure race, it was time for high school sports. Man, what a change from Alaska Sports. Softball and boys soccer in the fall instead of in the spring. It was kind of nice. One of the first softball games I shot for MaxPreps was at Arvada West which my Mom and I would be moving to about a block away from in another month and a half.
Then things got interesting. I got the opportunity to cover the US Women’s National Team friendly against the Australian National Women’s Team. It was an awesome experience and a lot of fun. Even though it was a friendly, it was a lot of fun.
Then I shot a sport I never thought I would. Tennis. I never shot it while I was in Alaska. Never shot it while I was in Washington, but I decided I wanted to cover as many High School Sports that I could. Honestly, it was so I would make money. I figured sports like Tennis were not getting the coverage that a sport like football was getting. I had a lot of fun, and the photos were well received by the teams and parents. I ended up shooting two meets for Ralston Valley High School.
Now, I thought shooting the Women’s National Team was big, that was about to be outdone. The Jordan of the Pitch was making his final appearance it Colorado as a player for the LA Galaxy. David Beckham was coming to town. Over 18,000 people were at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for the game. It was crazy. This was my best game to date. I ended up selling the bottom shot to the Guardian newspaper (a UK publication), and Sports Illustrated used a shot of mine that I took of Landon Donovan.
Then I went into a sport that I shot in Alaska and had some bad experiences with, but some great experiences. Honestly, it was the sport in Alaska that I was going to miss most for the people involved. Especially one. But, I had to move on, and I ended up shooting a couple volleyball games. One at Pomona High School, and one at Ralston Valley High School. I liked the gym size at both schools, but the staff at Ralston Valley seemed much nicer and were beginning to win me over.
I have held off posting any football to this point. I honestly had hopped I would be shooting the NFL, but the wires I was shooting for do not have a good NFL relationship, so I was out of luck. But I had high school football. And at the other end of the main road I live close to was the main football and soccer stadiums for the Jefferson County North area teams. Typically two Friday night games. One at 4 and one at 7. The 4pm games gave some beautiful light, but by 7pm, you need to start using flashes. The shot bellow is my favorite shot from the high school football season.
I had a few firsts shooting the fall sports in Colorado. I got to shoot my first high school game in the snow (yes, my first, even after shooting in Alaska for 9 years). And I got to see crazy pro fans. Bellow was the shot of one of the Burgundy Nation of Rapids fans, shirtless in near freezing temperatures leading the fans in cheers after a Colorado goal. Crazy….
And I was able to cover 5 NCAA Pac-12 football games during the season. After the first game I said to a couple other photographers, “This coach ain’t going to last long.” No one believed me that early, but no sooner was the season over that he was fired….Hopefully next season will be better.
Another first was about a week later when I was scheduled to photograph the 3A, 4A, and 5A boys state soccer championships. The 3A game ended in a snow storm, with the winning team sliding across the field at the end of their game.
Followed by a near blizzard during the 4A game. But I never got to shoot the 5A game. At the conclusion of the 4A game, the blizzard turned into a pure white out. You could not see the field at all. The ended up postponing the game until the following Monday, but that was my mom’s 88th birthday, and I could not miss that.
Earlier in the Rapids season, local Olympic athletes were honored at halftime of the game, including Regis Jesuit’s Missy Franklin, who had just won 4 gold medals in London and was ready to start her senior year in high school. I got the opportunity to photograph her return to the high school pool in a meet against Highlands Ranch in January. That was a total kick.
I also dove head first into Wrestling for MaxPreps. I shot a 4A dual, then a 5A dual, and then like a 15 team invitational. Over 750 photos later I was burned out, but had a lot of fun. I came away with some fun photos too.
Basketball was in full swing, both for the high schools and for the NCAA. The shot bellow, once again at Ralston Valley, was selected as a top basketball shot of the week by MaxPreps and one of my favorites of the season.
During the College football season I saw a few crazy fans dressed up in crazy outfits. During hoops season I came up with this idea to do a fun shoot with them. I plan on continuing this shoot each year for NewSport Photo. It was a heck of a lot of fun.
Pac-12 Basketball was good for me too. A few SI pics picked up, but the photo bellow was a 1/4 page in ESPN the Magazine after the Buffs knocked off the Arizona Wildcats at home.
I worked on a special project during the winter too. Early in the high school basketball season I saw a special needs spirit squad, and made some connections and ended up doing a story about them. I am hoping MaxPreps will run this story soon, but it is in the archives here. The kid bellow was the only member of the Arvada West Sparkles who did not go to Arvada West High School. He attends Wheat Ridge and the photo was taken at the only performance at his high school for the year. His fellow students went nuts for the performance and he was smothered with hugs and high fives after the performance. It was very touching.
I had the honor of photographing the State Championship run by the Ralston Valley Mustangs hockey team. They played all their home games close by and I got real familiar with the rink and the team. It was a lot of fun, probably the most fun I have had shooting hockey over the last 10 years.
Shooting all the Colorado Buffaloes home games, I got to know some of the CU staff and was able to get permission to come up and install my four Alien Bee strobes up in the cat walks for the Colorado High School 4A and 5A boys and girls state basketball championships. I was able to grab this photo which is one of my favorite basketball shots I have taken in a long, long time.
I mentioned earlier that I had quite a few firsts shooting in Colorado. This had to be the biggest. A World Cup Qualifier between the US Men’s National Team and Costa Rica in an absolute white out. It was snowing so hard, after every couple shots I had to dump the snow out of my camera’s lens hood. CRAZY! But the US won!
Then this spring I had another feel good moment. During the 1A Baseball State Championship celebration, one of the team members who was in a car accident earlier in the season and confined to a wheelchair was wheeled around the bases by his teammates. It was a game with a lot of tears and I got one heck of a sunburn.
I also had the final four for 4A baseball, and shot the girls soccer state championships for soccer at the 3A, 4A, and 5A level, and again, weather would play havoc with a 30 minute lightning delay during the first half of the 5A game.
And now I am back to MLS soccer, anxiously awaiting a pair of CONCACAF Cup games and the LPGA before NCAA football and the high school season starts back up….