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|| News Item: Posted 2005-04-02

Leading Off: A Nikkormat, a 105 and a pocketful of Tri-X…
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

The Sporting News' Robert Seale hard at work during the NCAA Regional in Austin, TX.
Floor remotes. Overhead remotes. Glass remotes. Post remotes. Under the table remotes.

Shoot tight. No, how about wide?

Is it just me or are we all obsessed with being different for the sake of being ... different?

Naturally I don't want my photos to be exactly the same as The Sporting News' Robert Seale or Sports Illustrated's John Biever or Trent Nelson of the Salt Lake Tribune who are ALL sitting near me (heck their photos would be better anyway because they'd be SHARP!) at the NCAA Regional in Austin, TX ... but am I getting carried away with being different?

Maybe this column comes from a comment I made to Robert as we were loading what seemed like tons of gear into the car: "Don't you miss the days when we went to a game with just a Nikkormat, a 105 and a pocketful of Tri-X?"

As I lifted my Lightware Travel Kit Case with 4 camera bodies, 6 lenses, 25 pounds of remote gear --- and a small kitchen sink --- I couldn't help but wonder if all of this gear was maybe taking something away from my strengths in shooting sports.

I know it's at least taking a toll on my back!

John and Robert were both covering the game on strobes, so they had lots of gear. So what the heck was my excuse?

I've always used my understanding of the games and athletes I cover and captured moments that reflect both the action, emotion and the news.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Hanashiro's floor remote at the NCAA Regional in Austin, TX.
The true Sports Shooter back-in-the-day was someone that could do all of that AND get these key moments sharp. Auto-focus in those days was your thumb, forefinger and wrist!

But now it seems that sports photography is all about what Mars Blackmon (aka Spike Lee) opined in the 1989 Nike ads for Air Jordans: "It must be the shoes!" (Substitute gear for shoes.)

With the proliferation of "Back - Button-Weenies" just about anyone with a marginal idea of how auto-focus works are at the same games I am and can get frames sharp. So what separates the BBW's from the Sports Shooter?

A few hours before the Regional Semi-Finals in Austin I looked at the baseline as I unpacked my cameras and I shook my head in amazement at all of the radio triggers, cords, cables, connectors, floor plates, magic arms and other do-dads I utilize to be ... not like everyone else.

Don't get me wrong I am not being sent halfway across the country to cover basketball to make photos that also might be made by the wire services that we subscribe to. I want to make cool, interesting photos with remotes because it's an angle you don't see often. I just hope that it isn't a distraction, taking away from what I think my strengths are.

On the flipside, we have to think about how and why we run a different photograph. Is it just because it's different? Or does it also tell a story or have an emotional edge to it that isn't in a comparable frame made by your handheld cameras?

There is a real fine line that photo editor (and photographers) must walk in deciding what to run from an event. A couple of years ago I used to laugh almost every morning when I read my local paper the morning after a Lakers game because invariably there would be a lead photo on the sports page of a) Shaq dunking or b) Kobe dunking or c) Kobe watching Shaq dunking.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

A Wizard "tree" at the NCAA Tournament in Austin.
I laughed because I had the same shot ... on a remote.

I long for those days of the one body, one lens and pocketful of Tri-X not because it was easier on my back ... I think really did make better photos then!

* * *

I try to keep politics out of my writings, but the congressional hearings on baseball's steroid use have been on my mind a lot.

My feelings about the whole steroid issue has flipped back and forth so much it's almost like Tom Arnold channel surfing on his living room big-screen ...

Out-of-sight-out-of-mind I hoped would work for me. But after witnessing first-hand Commissioner Bud's press conference before a Spring Training game at HoHoKam Park where he declared that baseball had steroid use under control, I knew the game was in for big trouble.

Commissioner's Bud's matter-of-fact attitude during the press conference and the hearings in Washington D.C. just didn't ring true. I was especially curious about his attitude on addressing - or rather not addressing - the past not to mention the stat he kept waving around: steroid use was "only 1 or 2%"

Up until then, I really didn't want to know that Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and yes, even Jose Canseco, accomplished their magnificent feats with the help of steroids. These were athletes that I had covered ... a lot. And I just really didn't want to know.

Like every sports fan, I want to remember fondly Big Mac flipping the bat over his shoulder like a twig after hitting number 70. Or Bonds pointing to the heavens as he crossed the plate after jacking his 71st homer out of the park.

These are still historic accomplishments in my book, but now forever there will be doubts, even in my jaded mind.

But there is one thing I do have to say about those hearings: We still can't feed everyone in this country. We can't buy new books for our schools. There is still unemployment, crime and a horrendous drug problem. But elected officials would rather put baseball and steroid ahead of all of that?

Are these politicians that hard up for headlines and TV time?

* * *

This issue of Sports Shooter features an article by Bryan Kelsen on what he looks for in applicants for internships at his paper, the Pueblo Chieftain. We have part two of Shawn Cullen's tips on getting the most out of your radio remote. Regular contributor Reed Hoffmann updates us on using the latest wi-fi technology for basketball remotes. Brad Mangin tells us about the best assignment he's ever had. Several Sports Shooter regulars give us a little behind-the-scenes look at the NCAA Tournament. Business of photography columnist Rick Rickman has several questions about a recent contract proposal with the NHL.

So sit back, adjust the contrast on your monitor. Pump up the volume on that "Distance Between" CD from the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash and enjoy Sports Shooter v.77.

As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Anne Ryan, Rick Rickman, Joe Gosen, Peter Read Miller, Rod Mar, Vincent Laforet, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Photodude, Scott Sommerdorf, Reed Hoffmann, Bob Deutsch and Mongo Johnson.

Thanks this month to: Bryan Kelsen, Shawn Cullen, Robert Beck and Robert Seale.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

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