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|| News Item: Posted 2009-12-28

Decade Collection: Robert Seale
'This is one of those rare instances where everything came together.'

By Robert Seale

Photo by Robert Seale / Sporting News

Photo by Robert Seale / Sporting News
This image of LaDainian Tomlinson, taken for the Sporting News back in the Fall of 2004, is one of my all time favorites.

I've always strived to capture athletes in some sort of context, but 9 times out of 10, especially with professional athletes, we were lucky to get them at their practice facility. This is one of those rare instances where everything came together.

Legendary sports photographer Andy Hayt and I were having lunch and scouting locations in San Diego the day before the shoot...I mentioned the aircraft carrier in the harbor, we both agreed it was a great but far fetched idea. Andy knew someone with the Navy, and to my surprise, within 3 hours we had a photo shoot confirmed on the USS Nimitz!

This was for the cover of our Top 100 issue, so the headline virtually wrote
Itself: Top Gun.

Getting the aircraft carrier might have been the easy part. After securing the USS Nimitz, we then had to convince the Chargers to let us do the shoot there; then we had to get the player there; then we had to get him there at the right time of day, etc., etc. … Somehow it all worked. There were even AC power plugs next to the deck where we were shooting! This made Shawn Cullen, the assistant on the shoot, and I, very happy indeed.

Aside from the dramatic location, it has many other things that I like in a sports portrait: A well known/iconic player, an athletic pose, a little bit of movement/motion blur on the edge of the athlete, great sunset light, a great facial expression, and nice soft-yet directional light on the subject.

(Robert Seale is a Houston photographer specializing in sports portraits. He is formerly a staff photographer with The Sporting News. You can see a longer story about this photo on his blog here: or check out his website here: You can also see his member page here:

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