A couple months ago I was reading my latest copy of Inside Lacrosse. I’m probably the only person in America who subscribes to IL and doesn’t play lacrosse; call me contrarian. One article in the November 2006 issue caught my eye. It was a story about the Duke Lacrosse team. Instead of talking about the current legal case, it documented the team’s slow return to normalcy. The photographer and reporter followed the athletes as they went to class, practiced and ‘hung out’. I loved the angle of following an athlete around and showing to everyone what the life of an athlete was like. It was an idea I contemplated doing myself for sometime. So of course, I wanted to do it too.
As I thought about potential projects my connections with NC State seemed the best route to go. I have the great fortune of working for the athletic department doing action photography, PR events, head shots and the like. Thinking of athletes at NC State that would would be a good story, pitcher Andrew Brackman immediately came to mind as a good choice of someone to do a story with.
The delivery of the photo story would be a 4 or 5 minute slide show with audio of him talking in the background and would most likely be posted on NC State’s official website gopack.com where fans could see the project and where it would have the greatest exposure. For that I first talked to Tim Peeler, editor of gopack.com about the idea and he embraced it. Tim will also be involved in the project since he is much better at putting together a story than I am. Next I talked to Bruce Winkworth, media relations director for baseball. He also gave the green light and agreed to talk with baseball head coach Elliott Avent about it. Bruce and I met with coach Avent last Saturday and pitched the idea to him. He was supportive and felt it would be good exposure for the program. He only asked we get Andrew’s blessing of course.
This was the part I was most nervous about. Last Sunday Bruce and I talked with Andrew about the project after practice. I am fairly shy around new people (especially those 10 inches taller than me) so I asked Bruce to introduce the project to him first. Bruce gave Andrew a quick spill and then I talked more in depth about how it would entail shadowing him in normal every day life to document his progression to the MLB draft. I also mentioned how this was something new for NC State and that this would be a first with us. He said he liked the idea and I was relieved that 3 months of preparation work didn’t die with him saying ‘no’. We traded contact information and that is where we are now with the project. The Technician is doing a quick portrait shoot of him tomorrow that I will probably attend just to also snap some pictures of the event. That will be Day One of the project I guess.
I have to admit I’m fairly nervous about this project. First, I had to ask a lot of people for their blessing and support on the project and I hope I can deliver for them. Second, I also hope this doesn’t become a distraction for Andrew. I think though in time he probably will not notice the camera. Third, this is new territory for me. I’m a trained sports photographer and going the PJ (photojournalist) route takes me out of my comfort zone of sports photography.
This project has a number of goals that I hope to accomplish:
- I hope this is a good personal development activity for me; a way to broach new ground and tackle something new.
- I want Andrew to come out with some photos that he and his family will appreciate and enjoy when he gets older. I hope the experience is fun for him and not an onerous one.
- Finally and most importantly, I want this project to be good publicity for the baseball program and the university. I hope this will give the program its deserved attention and also serve as a recruiting tool to show recruits what the average life of a NCSU student-athlete is like as well show off the great facilities of the NC State baseball program.
Wish me luck. Day one begins tomorrow. I will try to post progress notes as this project moves forward.