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|| News Item: Posted 2008-11-02

Intern Diaries: Getty Images
'Good light, clean background, and good composition…'

By Jonathan Moore, Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Moore / Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Moore / Getty Images

John McEnroe reaches for a ball while taking on Jim Courier during the Legends Singles Final on day five of the Countrywide Classic in Straus Stadium at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA.
(Editor's note: At the end of each summer, it has been a tradition at the Sports Shooter Newsletter to have several students share their experiences working at an internship.)

Interning at Getty Images this summer was certainly a profound and enlightening experience, but before I talk about the internship, I think it’s important to start off by talking about the process of getting the internship because there is a lesson to be learned. It started just after the Sports Shooter Academy last March. Donald Miralle, one of the instructors, informed me of the internship and offered to write a letter of recommendation. I accepted the offer. After six LONG weeks, I finally received an email from the Director of Photography indicating that my portfolio had been reviewed and that I would have an answer sometime within the next two weeks.

After a month, I finally received a call from the DP. It was a phone interview, during which the DP went over the details about the internship, asked me about my experiences so far, what my goals were and, most importantly, how I felt this internship could help me achieve those goals. At the end of the interview he said he'd have an answer in two days. Totally psyched at the prospect of interning at Getty Images, I knew it would be the longest 48 hours of my life! Two days go by… a week… two weeks… and NO call! I left messages, sent emails, submitted two other recommendations, not a word!

Two and a half very stressful and sleepless weeks later, I received an email notifying me that I'd been chosen to participate in the Getty summer internship program. I was overwhelmed with happiness and relief, but more importantly, I was so thankful to those who helped me gain this amazing opportunity. The point is, as hard as it may be, don't kill yourself while waiting for a response from someone who will potentially hire you. Trust me, it's very unhealthy! Try not to think about it. Keep your mind occupied on something else! Stop clicking reload on your email every four minutes and go SHOOT something! Yes, it was that bad…

Now on to the internship:
First, it should be noted that for the entire length of the internship I was never belittled or treated like a typical intern. The DP, editors and photographers were always very kind, respectful and helpful. The internship lasted three months: the first three weeks I worked in the office, the next three I was field editing for the local staff photographers and, for the remaining six weeks, I was given my own assignments. In addition, I completed a multimedia feature on an Outrigger Canoeing team based in Marina del Rey.

For the first three weeks, I started with the basics: editorial workflow and the wire service business. For the most part it's pretty straightforward-images are transmitted by the photographer to the editor at the 'live desk' in New York, who posts the images onto the Getty website and forwards them to clients around the US or the world (depending on the event being covered). If it's a higher profile event such as the NBA Finals or the World Series, photographers are usually tethered with an on-site editor who is authorized to "bypass" the live desk and post directly to the site for much quicker image distribution.

During this time, I also sat in on two monthly clip-judging sessions. In those meetings, I learned that Getty editors are extremely tough critics! They are consistently raising the bar when it comes to good images and always looking for something different. Listening to their comments before I started shooting was particularly beneficial because it encouraged me to push the envelope with my own photography by giving me a set list of priorities to think about while shooting: good light, clean background, and good composition (it was specifically Al Bello who advised me on this-thank you!) It is essential to always be thinking about these three elements while covering any sporting event-more on that later. Learning the editorial workflow as well as the expectations of the editors certainly gave me a solid foundation that prepared me for the next segment: field editing.

Photo by Jonathan Moore / Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Moore / Getty Images

Bethanie Mattek returns to Flavia Pennetta of Italy during Women's Singles Semifinals of the East West Bank Classic Day 6 at Home Depot Center on July 26, 2008 in Carson, California.
For the next three weeks I acted as the on-site "field" editor, which basically meant going out with staff photographers to local events (mainly baseball), taking their cards every thirty minutes or so, editing their images, captioning and transmitting to the live desk in New York. There were definitely some stressful moments, the worst being the time when I was on-site and, for absolutely no reason, Photoshop CS3 "lost" the registration information and refused to open without a serial number.

I spent thirty minutes on a very hot afternoon, with no hat, in the first-base well at Angels Stadium ON THE PHONE (while I was supposedly editing) with Adobe customer support trying to convince them that I had registered the software. Finally, I got the second tech person to "authorize" me a temporary number that would only work for that day. Luckily, I managed to get everything captioned and transmitted. Let's just say that it's a good thing my first few games weren't exceptionally important! After two or three games, technology was finally working properly and everything was back on track!

There was one photographer in particular who reached out during this segment of the internship: Harry How is a staff photographer who seemed to spend more time giving me tips on how to shoot baseball than shooting the game itself. He's a very down to earth person, no ego whatsoever, and a great shooter! He was the first photographer I assisted. I knew very little about baseball and I'd certainly never covered it. Harry definitely gave me some great pointers, what to focus on during certain situations and why, as well as the key shooting locations in Angels Stadium and Dodgers Stadium. In addition, my time as a field editor helped me to determine which images are acceptable for submission and how to properly caption those images, so when I covered my first Angels game, I felt ready, though extremely nervous! It was kind of like driving for the very first time!

For the final six weeks, I received my shooting schedule well in advance. Almost every day I had an assignment. Overwhelming? Yes, but extremely exciting and rewarding, kind of like a six-week Sports Shooter Academy! My assignments included several Dodgers and Angels games, the X-Games, two tennis tournaments, two LA Galaxy (MLS soccer) games, a NASCAR race and an Indy race in Sonoma, plus the Outrigger feature-a very dense schedule for a six-week period. I can't go into detail about every event, but I'd like to focus on two events that were most beneficial in my experience: the Countrywide Classic men's tennis tournament at UCLA and the Indy Race at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.

I three elements I mentioned earlier, good light, clean background, and good composition, apply to Tennis and Motor Sports more so than other sports because they gave me the time I needed to explore different angles and compositions, to seek out cleaner backgrounds and to take advantage of beautiful light. Tennis and Motor Sports are very repetitive, so if you mess up you can try the same shot again and again. Furthermore, covering these events in particular gave me an idea of how Getty photographers approach sports photography: they start by satisfying the editorial requirements of the editor or client. Once those shots are in the bag, they begin to push the envelope creatively.

Some photographers even approach events with a particular shot in mind before the event begins. In the case of the Countrywide Classic Tennis Tournament, for every match, I would capture a backhand, forehand and serve of both players from the corner, making sure the background was clean and the entire racket was in the shot-very straightforward. Once I satisfied this requirement, I ran the card to the on-site editor and I was free to make more creative images.

One case when I applied this method is the John McEnroe digging for the ball image. I knew he would be playing around 5-6pm when the light created a nice partial shadow on part of the court and that I would have to shoot from the top of the stands to give the image a cleaner background. After submitting my editorial images, I went to the top of the stands and waited for the moment. Thirty minutes later when he ran to make the forehand, I planned ahead-I had that shot in mind before the event began, I was familiar with the venue and I knew how I wanted to work the light!

Photo by Jonathan Moore / Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Moore / Getty Images

Graham Rahal drives the #06 Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara Honda during the IRL Indy Car Series PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Grand Prix of Sonoma County on August 23, 2008 at the Infineon Raceway.
This method reaches a new level when applied to Motor Sports, especially at the Infineon Raceway. This is NOT your typical oval racetrack. There are turns, hills and at least twenty different places to make some very unique images.

One photographer I worked with who helped me a great deal in picking which locations to shoot was Darrell Ingham. Darrell is a very talented photographer who specializes in Indy Racing. Working with him was extremely beneficial because he's an extremely tough critic-every time I'd show him a photo he would tell me immediately "yes" or "no." There was never any middle ground, but he always gave a very thorough explanation.

Darrell taught me that every shot in Motor Sports must contain some representation of movement, usually in the form of a graphical element. To capture this, he taught me to use the lines of the track, mainly in the curves and hills to create visually pleasing photos. So when shooting at the Infineon Raceway, I planned well in advance what I wanted to shoot before the race.

An image that represents this approach is the white car with the swooping lines on both sides. These lines create graphical element that represent the theme of movement, which obviously is what Motor Sports is all about! Darrell also taught me that it's always a good idea to compose the image beforehand. Again, plan ahead! He taught me to position the camera so the lines are in place, then visualize where the car should be in the image, pre-focus, then shoot when the moment is right! In the case of the image I chose, I knew I wanted the car to be in the center of the image because it adds balance to the photo. Darrel's approach is very methodical and thoughtful, but extremely useful!

I'm sure it would be far more challenging to apply this method during a Football, Soccer or Basketball game because one can never always guarantee where the action is going to be. That being said, I would advise to anyone trying to "boost" their portfolio to think about shooting sports that lend themselves to more creative, artistic photography.

If there's anything Getty taught me about making a good portfolio, peak-action alone, especially from the most popular sports, simply doesn't cut it, unless it's something exceptionally violent or extreme. Think about sports and venues that will enable you to capture good lighting, good composition and clean background at the same time and you're portfolio will stand out. Photography is, after all, an art, so be artistic! That really is the most important thing interning at Getty taught me, and that's pretty much what they'll teach you at the Sports Shooter Academy, or what any professional photographer will tell you! I admit it is challenging!

I was very fortunate to have this opportunity, to gain such a significant insight on the sports photography industry and to ultimately become a better artist. I especially want to thank Donald Miralle for informing me about the internship, writing the letter of recommendation and most of all for believing in me. Coming from you of all people, Donald, I couldn’t be more grateful, and considering that I’ve followed your career since my sophomore year at USC (yes…I know you’re a die-hard Bruin and hate USC), I have to say I’m truly honored that you thought of me. I also want to thank Wally Skalij from the LA Times for recommending Sports Shooter Academy and encouraging me to work extra hard!

Other photogs from Getty I’d like to thank, Al Bello, Steve Dunn, Jeff Gross, Christian Petersen, Robert LaBerge, Harry How, Darrel Ingham, editors Mary Ciesek (yet, another Bruin…), Maribel de la Torre, Jeff Golden, Maxx Wolfson and DP Brandon Lopez: I look up to all of you not only because you’re all so talented, but also because you all made an effort to make me feel welcome in the company, I can’t thank you enough! Much respect to you all and thank you so much for this profound learning experience!

Related Links:
Jonathan's member page

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