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|| News Item: Posted 2009-05-26

Leading Off: Notes On The Scorecard
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Television cameras draped in black and photographers wearing black a the Figure Skating Championships at Staples Center.
A few notes and observations from the past month or two...

It has always amazed me that broadcast TV crews spend so much time carefully draping their huge cameras and platforms with black material at major figure skating events. Ice-level photographers are required to wear black as well and we're told it's to lessen the background distraction for the skaters. Funny ... anyone watching the recent World Championships held at Staples Center were treated to wall-to-wall advertisements on the boards next to the ice, most of them very colorful and to this professional eye, very distracting. I know every event sponsor wants to make a few bucks here and there but...

It USED to be after covering a Laker game, while editing on deadline, we would frantically ask the other photographers in the work room for help with an ID of a player: "Anyone know who the Rocket's little point guard is?" Or "Is Josh Powell the Laker with the dreads?" Now days it's more like "Who was that sitting with Jay Z?" Or "Did anyone see where that Borat dude was sitting?"

My philosophy is to stick with shooting Jack Nicholson... at least I can ID him for a caption...

I have covered probably a dozen NCAA Final Fours in my career, but none have generated more emails than my recently spending two days behind-the-scenes with American Idol's "Final Three". It's not that the people writing me were asking for photographs of Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert and eventual winner Kris Allen...the questions are more like "Where do they buy their clothes?" or "Is Simon mean to them off stage?" Or "Are they really cool?"

American Idol is the most watched TV series in the U.S. and getting the chance to show USA TODAY's readers a little bit of their lives a couple of days before the show was exciting --- as much as shooting the Final Four --- and challenging, trying to balance telling some kind of story but also not disrupt their preparation.

Whether it was Lambert in a darkened rehearsal room with vocal coaches selecting his songs for the show; Gokey looking at jackets at a Melrose Ave. boutique; or Lambert singing Aerosmith's "Dream On" over and over in the recording studio, my access was pretty good. But I was mindful not to overshoot and not get in the way. To help with this, I decided to use Nikon D300 bodies instead of the noisier D3 and vowed not to use a strobe no matter how dark the situation was---which meant a lot of work at 1/4 of a second and ISO 1600.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Actor Jack Nicholson takes in game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals at Staples Center.
And yes, the three guys are VERY cool --- easy going, easy to work with, friendly and open. After spending two days with them, I just wish all three could have won...

I've had six flights on NorthWORST Airlines in the past couple of months ... and boy are my arms tired...

Lots has changed in air travel over the past few years and what used to be somewhat of a perk of the job is now the most dreaded.

I used to have problems with SouthWest Airlines because of their cattle call boarding system. But with their switch to an ordered zone system, I actually think SWA is the best airline to travel far.

Maybe because I haven't flown them in quiet a long time, but Northwest had a couple of very curious boarding "quirks" I have not seen before. After boarding first class, elite status members, families with small children, other than "need a little extra time" I heard something over the P.A. for the first time: "Now boarding any passengers that have carry-ons that place them under the seats in front of them..."


Next was another surprise ... GENERAL BOARDING of the rest of us non-first class/non-elite status schlubs.

Not knowing that Northwest has general boarding (versus boarding by rows or zones as most other airlines do) ... I had booked my flight choosing seats near the rear of the plane, at a window. I generaly prefer the front of the plane and an aisle seat, but to get on the plane quicker so I have a better shot at overhead space for my roller with gear, I book the opposite.

So there I am, standing nowhere near the gate, sipping a cup of coffee and EVERYONE is now pushing and shoving their way to the boarding gate. First time I have ever been last to board a flight...

The second time I head the "carry-on under the seat get to board" announcement I stood by the gate and took mental notes on what several of those passengers were carrying ... and sure enough when I boarded I saw at least a half dozen of those bags in the overhead.

When I (nicely with a smile) asked a flight attendant about this, she frowned and snapped "How do you expect us to enforce that... have them take their bags out of the overhead?"

"You bet" was my reply.

Of course it didn't happen and I put my roller on a guy's sport coat that he had spread across the bottom of the overhead compartment...

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

American Idol contestant Adam Lambert shops for clothes with the show's stylist Miles Siggins and Art Conn at the men's store Traffic at the Beverly Center.
Shooting a story on USC quarterbacks recently, I was amazed how heavy zoom lenses seem to have gotten. I spotted at least three shooters roaming up and down the sidelines of the Trojans' practice field using short zoom lenses with the telltale sign of the PW --- a monopod. Sorry, couldn't resist.

* * *

This month's issue of The Newsletter features Todd Spoth writing about his jump from newspaper photographer to documentary filmmaker and freelancer Jeff Barrie details covering the Indianapolis 500.

The Chicago Tribune's Scott Strazzante writes about covering a different kind of doubleheader in this month's "Cool Gig" column and Brooks Institute student Troy Harvey covered the recent Jesusita Fire and discusses what he learned. Like dozens of others in our business, Brian Blanco lost his newspaper job and now finds himself in the new world of freelancing ... he details the steps he took after walking out of the newsroom.

Paul Myers writes about his visit to "church" ... at the Robert Frank exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Think Tank Photo's Doug Murdoch checks in with his regular "Travel Smart" column, this month on advance packing.

* * *

This month's reading includes Michael Connelly's newest The Scarecrow (about an LA Times reporter that is laid off ... yes it is fiction... I think); Are You Kidding Me?: The Story of Rocco Mediate's Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the US Open by Rocco Mediate and John Feinstein and One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel C. Fick. Playing on iTunes on heavy rotation is Emphasis! On Parenthesis by the Stanton Moore Trio and American Idol iTunes singles by Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey.

As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Rod Mar, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, Paul Myers, Myung J. Chun, Jared Dort and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: Todd Spoth, Scott Strazzante, Stephen Lam, Brian Blanco, Troy Harvey and Jeff Barrie.

The comments, opinions and other nutty statements that the writers may have expressed, implied, imagined or made up are theirs and theirs alone. Sports Shooter, Inc. and published these articles in good faith with the purpose of education and inspiration.

Permission in writing must be obtained from Sports Shooter, Inc. and the author of the article before being reprinted.

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

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