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|| News Item: Posted 2001-06-29

Leading Off: Arena Football, Barry Bonds & Beach Volleyball
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
It's been a pretty quiet summer here in LA the Lakers after a brief scare, quickly disposed of the 76ers in the NBA Finals (sans rioting "fans"), the Dodgers and Angels suck and it's still over a month away from the start of NFL season.

So what's a poor Sports Shooter to do?

How about the Arena Football League?

How about beach volleyball and extreme roller sports?

Or how about a drive at 5am to San Diego to shoot Barry (Mr. 39 homers) Bonds? (More on that one later)

Yes I was desperate. Yes I was bored.

When USA TODAY's sports picture editor Julia Schmalz asked if I would mind working on a day off to shoot the LA Avengers against some team called the SaberCats I said "yes" so fast, she quickly shot back "Bert, I said ARENA football."

No matter it was the most fun shooting football I'd had in years! Where else can you roam freely and shoot wherever you want? What other league allows a still shooter into the locker room at half time? And where else can you get a photo of a wide receiver catching a TD pass and getting knocked into the stands and into the laps of some fans?

Most of my friends know that I love shooting beach volleyball. No it's not the women in swimsuits that's the attractionit's the challenge of getting a player diving head - long into the sand to "dig out" a spike.

A drive to Hermosa Beach for a pro beach volleyball tournament on a couple of days off can be frustrating not only because it's a bitch to find parking on the weekend, but you can shoot 6 matches and not get one great dig out of the sand.

But a couple of weekends ago, the drive not only was worth it for the beach volleyball, but the bonus of the annual "Beach Bash" which displays skateboarders and rollerbladers showing off an assortment of tricks that would probably make Evil Knievil cringe!

I'm not into the so-called "extreme sports"i.e. the "X-Games" but watching two kids complete runs on 360 degree ramp was exciting.

What's my point here? Simple: while we all like to shoot the big-time eventswhether it's the "Final Four" or the "War On The Floor" high school hoop tournament chance, change and challenge are needed to spice up our photography once in a while.

In these days of cutbacks and bye-outs, publications can't and won't spend the money to assign photographers to just go out a "make a nice picture." We're tied to often to the usual events and tied to what writers and word editors generate for assignments.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
So working on a day off or two to just "make a nice photo" is something we have to take it upon ourselves to lift us out of the doldrums of summer.

Oh yeah Barry Bonds. I drove down to Qualcomm Stadium the other day to shoot him in the beautiful late afternoon San Diego sun, leaving the house at 5am so I wouldn't have to sit in traffic.

You guessed it, the Giants gave him the day off and my paper used some filer wire photos for that feature on Bonds!

Sometimes you can't win for losing.

* * *

Rod Mar takes a look at Ichiro-mania and the rabid Japanese media following the Mariners' outfielder; Anne Ryan takes a look at home offices and we get the last word on the XFL from J. Gregory Raymond, the league's former director of photography.

Mongo Johnson returns with part 2 of his look at winter wear (yes, we know it's summer!) and Sports Shooter starts a periodic series by Trent Nelson on Salt Lake City, site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

So sit back, adjust the contrast on that monitor, turn down that new BR549 CD and enjoy Sports Shooter v.32.

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