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|| News Item: Posted 2007-11-11

Beyond Ref Ass
By Jarod Opperman

Photo by Jarod Opperman

Photo by Jarod Opperman
(Editor's Note: The Sports Shooter Newsletter asked three participants in the SSA Multimedia Boot Camp to relate their experiences and how the new wave of visual story-telling will affect their careers in photojournalism.)

"I've got nothing."

I was saying it to myself. I was hearing it from others. I just didn't want to believe it. I was kneeling on the sidelines at the Fullerton College v. Palomar College game dwelling on the futility of my efforts after a 15-hour drive, an entire day of multimedia training at SSA Multimedia Boot Camp, and almost an entire day of shooting.

It wasn't that I couldn't come up with an angle for my piece. I just couldn't think of anything completely original. I hate doing what's been done. I figured most people would default to game-action pieces and I didn't feel like being part of the majority.

So there I was, pretending to shoot something other than action so the teachers would think I had a story, when Bryan Crowe brought up how much "ref ass" he had gotten during the game.

That's when the whistles went off. It was the fourth quarter; too late for me to make a comeback. No time to put the effort into a narrowly tailored, insightful project. So, why not give everyone a break and a laugh once the time came to show finished multimedia pieces?

I take this job seriously. But I have no problem admitting that I have a completely immature sense of humor. Clicking away at those shiny, white globes hanging gingerly from their black-and-white tethers had me chuckling at the possibilities immediately.

The pictures were easy. Focus my attention on the referees in between plays for a couple quick snaps and then back to the action. The challenge came when it was time to edit.

I wanted tacky. I wanted over-the-top. I wanted something that I would never get to create in any other setting. Essentially, I wanted to cram as many extreme close-ups and "star irises" (Thanks for teaching us that, Scott!) into one minute as I could.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Sports Shooter Academy Boot Camp participant Jarod Opperman photographs Fullerton College's homecoming football game against Palomar College on Friday, November 3, 2007 in Fullerton.
As my production came to a wrap, I began to question showing the piece. As someone who is far from established in this profession, I didn't want to come off as being unprofessional and I didn't want to offend anyone who put a ton of effort into making his/her piece.

In the end, I showed it. After the standing ovation and second viewing, I felt a little more confident in my decision.

Looking Ahead

Multimedia is no longer anything to fear. I see more photographers embracing it every day, not necessarily because of a push by their editors, but because of the power it has to invoke emotion.

In my case, I feel I was able to ease the tension of my colleagues who had potentially fried themselves working to explore foreign territory. I was saying, "I feel your pain. Relax. Enjoy." Shaking their hands, hearing their laughs, I knew I succeeded.

The more I work with Final Cut and Soundtrack, the more I think, "What emotion am I trying to invoke?" If I can answer that, I know I'm on my way to something successful.

The best part of this relatively new medium? The expanded storytelling abilities. The potential to stand out from the crowd. The unexplored, limitless possibilities.

The next step? Proving I'm more than just that "Ref Ass Guy."

(Jarod Opperman is a student at the University of Oregon. To view his Boot Camp multimedia project, click on this link: You can see more of his work on his member page:

Related Links:
Jarod's member page
Ref Ass

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