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|| News Item: Posted 2005-04-30

Sports Shooter Contest Winners Tell All
By Sports Shooter staff

Photo by Stan Liu

Photo by Stan Liu

Picture of the Year 2004. This is the sequence from Stan Liu's winning image.
'I've been around some big dudes…'
By Stan Liu, Photograph of the Year

I had only recently started bringing a second body to football games, but after seeing some of the great wide angle shots from Bob Rosato and John Grieshop it became my Holy Grail to get a "wide angle TD reception" shot before I died. It is also my Holy Grail to see Angelina Jolie naked ... but that's another story.

San Diego State almost never has games during the day (my theory is that Coach Craft is a vampire), so I was looking forward to shooting a game with some natural light. Near the 2 minute warning of the first half, State had possession of the ball in the red zone.

I knelt in the corner of the end zone with my 24-70, hoping for the vaunted basket catch. Remembering Murphy's Law, I knew that once I was committed to my wide, State would undoubtedly hand off to the running back, who would make some amazing leap over the defensive line, so I kept my 400mm in my other hand.

As the play developed and I juggled both cameras..."it" happened. The wide receiver broke towards the corner of the end zone and I knew the ball was going to him. The ball went up, I grabbed my wide and started tracking the receiver.

As the players got closer and closer, I was fully prepared to eat my cameras. The size of the players was not as intimidating as the speed that they were moving.

I've been around some big dudes, but not many of them have run at me at full speed. I fired as many frames as possible before I bailed out and pivoted to the left. The padded wall three inches to my right got whammoed really, really hard, and luckily only my ankle got tweaked.

After chimping and seeing that I got a usable frame, I knew that I had achieved one of my holy grails. Still working on that Angelina Jolie thing though.

A big thank you to Robert, Ron, Peter, Wally and Matt. And many thanks to everyone who called, emailed and personally congratulated me. All of your kind words are much appreciated.

(Stan Liu is a freelance photographer based in San Diego.)

'…for split-second, all those jubilant faces pointed my way'
Jay Janner, 1st place Best No Ball Photograph (feature)

The College World Series is a great event to photograph because there is a lot of emotion from the players and fans, and there's good access and a fun atmosphere for photographers.

I spent several days in Omaha photographing the University of Texas as they attempted to win the NCAA Division I baseball National Championship but came up short against Cal State Fullerton.

It was my first College World Series, and I really worked hard on the assignment. For extra practice, I shot a couple of games that didn't involve the University of Texas, and I even shot a self-assigned photo essay that was published on our front page about the sights and scenes of the College World Series.

However, all of my preparation and hard work didn't compare to the bit of good luck I had at the end of the final game when, for split-second, all those jubilant faces pointed my way in an unobstructed view of the post-game celebration.

By chance, I was sitting on the correct side of the field in just the right spot in the photo pit to get a clear view. Yeah, I got a little lucky. But luck plays a part in sports photography and I'll take it when I can get it.

(Jay Janner is a staff photographer with the Austin Statesman-American.)

'Luckily the rain held off for that game…'
By Adrian Krause, winner Best No College, No Pro Photograph

Photo by Adrian Kraus / Messenger Post Newspapers

Photo by Adrian Kraus / Messenger Post Newspapers

No College - No Pro: First Place winner.
Well, if ever I could have used an AquaTech Sport Shield, it was the day I made the picture that won me an AquaTech Sport Shield.

Covering a high school lacrosse championship double-header (with rain in the forecast), the clamp I use to secure an umbrella to my monopod was MIA. Much to the amusement of the other still photographers at the game, I was forced to use a 12-foot tie-down strap I found in my car that I wrapped around the monopod about 286 times.

Many times the high school games we cover are littered with distracting, cluttered backgrounds, so I was relieved the finals were played in a college stadium where the fans were confined to the stands on one sideline and the end-line bordered a clean, tree-covered, grassy hill.

Confident that I was nimble enough to dodge an errant shot on goal, I planted myself on the opposite end-line for a portion of the game and waited for my picture to happen.

Luckily the rain held off for that game, but the second was played mostly in a downpour.

Since I had a decent dejection picture after the loss, the action picture ended up running on the inside … with the end of the basket (almost up to the ball) nipped in layout.

My humble thanks to Peter, Wally, Matt, Ron and Robert for taking time out of their busy schedules to judge and for acknowledging my picture from among the many fantastic and deserving images. Special thanks to the Big Kahuna for the effort he puts into Sports Shooter and for putting on this most excellent of contests.

(Adrian Krause is on staff of the Messenger Post Newspapers in New York.)

'…being prepared and staying alert can get you a winning shot'
Doug Murray, winner Best Action Photograph

Photo by Doug Murray /  Reuters

Photo by Doug Murray / Reuters

Sports Action: First Place
Between NASCAR and IRL I only shoot racing 2-3 times per year. In fact up until about 3 years ago I was not a fan of NASCAR, and I was one of those "guys that make fun of those cars that just run around in a circle".

After I shot my first NASCAR race, I came away with a greater understanding and appreciation for this type of auto racing and I now enjoy NASCAR racing.

This photo was taken at my third NASCAR race and my very first time at the Daytona 500. I was working as a stringer with Reuters, and my assignment was to make the picture of the start and finish of the race as well as anything interesting in the pits and on the track from my vantage point.

As Johnny Sauter approached his pit stall I started tracking him focusing on the number on the side of his car. Then in my peripheral vision I detected an unusual motion so I started shooting. The unusual motion turned out to be the initial impact of the car hitting the pit crew worker. I believe the tire he was carrying impacted the front right fender, which bounced him head over heels.

The photo I submitted to the contest was the first frame of the sequence of Patrick Shafer flipping over and landing on his face!

The whole sequence can be seen at this link:

Amazingly, Shafer only had some minor cuts and bruises to left side of face, which were quickly bandaged and he returned to his pit crew duties.

Obviously luck played a huge part in getting an image like this, but being prepared and staying alert can get you a winning shot.

(Doug Murray is a freelance photographer based in Florida.)

'He actually jumped higher than my frame shows …
By Max Morse, winner Best Student Photograph

Photo by Max Morse / Brooks Institute of Photography

Photo by Max Morse / Brooks Institute of Photography

Best Student Sports Photograph: First Place
When I first got assigned to shoot a golf jamboree during my internship at the Gilroy Dispatch, I was, let's say, less than excited. My editor told me to make sure to get a good shot EVERY golfer, because we had no idea who would win.

After arriving and getting a golf cart, I decided to set up shop just past the first hole. I figured that everyone would have to putt there so it would be a good place to get a safety shot of all 36 competitors.

So after about a dozen golfers went through, I started to get really bored. I even decided to leave the spot for the next hole after the next foursome had come through. And that's when it happened. Just before I was about to leave, a guy lined up a ten-foot putt and just missed it by a matter of centimeters.

A second after missing the shot, the man jumped higher than most basketball players ... all because of a missed putt! He actually jumped higher than my frame shows, as he went right out the top of the next shot in the motor drive.

After this, I knew I had gotten what I needed, but I still had to stay for the rest of the day. It was difficult to sit there and continue to shoot, because all I wanted to do was run back to the office and show the sports editor my image. After I was through, I raced back and put it into the system.

Even though the shot was not of the winner, my editor recognized the importance of a great picture, and the paper ran it gigantic on the front of sports. I don't know if I will ever get a golf shot that good again, so it was nice to be rewarded by seeing my photo run so big.

(Max Morse recently graduated from Brook Institute of Photography and is interning in New York with Sports Illustrated.)

To see all of the winners of the Annual Sports Shooter Contest, go to:

A video of the judging can be viewed here:

Related Links:
Liu's member page
Janner's member page
Murray's member page
Morse's member page

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