It’s been hard to believe how quickly my first couple of semesters at UF have come and gone.
As a photographer, looking back at who I was in August seems a bit unreal and almost comical. I can’t seem to put into words how much growth I feel I’ve experienced and how much progress I seem to have made in the last eight months.
I had no idea what to expect regarding my photography as I entered my first week of classes last fall. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I had been tired of trying to find my place again in school, and there was a slight reservation that it was all another bad idea; that I’d end up just wasting more time and money to end up in a spot no better than where I stood. However, I am glad to announce that is not the case.
I was able to start shooting for The Alligator and basically ended up becoming their sports guy, and I had fun getting to shoot a couple of concerts and speakers at the university as well. Classes went well and I actually looked forward to starting the next set. I’ve met some great people and mentors who I hope to stay in touch with for as long as I’m allowed. I’ve gotten to work with some of Sports Illustrated’s most respected photographers and have managed to keep in touch with them; I’ve been trusted with the opportunity to shoot a big story for ESPN (and I hope it’s not my last); I was also able to cover the Gatornationals drag races a couple of months ago, and to say I had an amazing time would be an understatement.
For the first time in the last three years that I’ve been actively pursuing more knowledge of this craft, I can finally say I feel as if I’ve become better — whether it’s by a lot or a little, it’s something.
And, well, I am currently looking to pick up a D3 and 400mm if I get picked up to shoot UF football for Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com. So, if that isn’t a sign of some progress, I’m not sure what is.
I just realized I never got around to writing about the Gatornationals experience from the point-of-view I was lucky enough have. So, for those that are interested, here it is…
In November, while I was helping the The Alligator cover UF’s Homecoming Parade, I finally pieced parts of the puzzle together and discovered that one of the NHRA’s most revered racing events was just about 20 minutes north of where I go to school. It didn’t take long before I was asking one of my photo editors, David Carr, if there was a chance we could get credentials to shoot the races in March. After anxiously awaiting an answer for about four months, I was not disappointed. The Alligator was granted with two passes for all four days, being able to shoot for the first three.
The afternoon I was headed to the track was like no other. An uncle of mine brainwashed me as a child to love everything about cars, and I still carry that love with me now. After picking up my credential, I drove to find a parking spot. When I got out of my car and heard the roar of the cars launching down the track I was in in heaven. With a smile going from ear to ear, I walked through the gates and found myself right next to the starting line of nearly-700 foot track.
The first day was devoted mainly to the pro-mod cars; they were loud, and certainly pleasant to look out, but nothing prepared me for day two. When the first Top Fuel and Funny Cars made their runs, I’m almost positive I nearly lost control of every single bodily function; luckily, I was able to hold it together. And, though I was literally thrown back by the pure amount of energy radiating from the machines that only took about four seconds to cover a quarter-mile, I was more than ready for the next.
One after another, the cars made their passes. Each one shaking me to the core and covering me with chunks of rubber that were being ripped from the tires. In some of the photos I posted, you can see the stress put on those tires at the time of launch.
Though it was a bit of a pain cleaning my gear, and myself, after three long hot days of shooting (the track temperature peaked at about 105 degrees F) I am hoping I’ll get to do it all over again next year.
Until then, I’ll leave everyone with one final goody…and I’ll pre-apologize for the atrocious sound…also, I’d suggest lowering your speaker volume…
This semester has done an exceptional job of keeping me busy.
Some posts to come should include some stuff of Maya Angelou, an African children’s choir, more sports and GATORNATIONALS!!!!
I’m excited to go back through the Gatornational photos and do some edits to put up here.
Anyway, keep an eye out!
Despite losing on Opening Day, the Gators turned things around to win two games of the three in their first series of the year. Zack Powers finished off the series on an extremely high note for UF — hitting two grand slams in their third game against Duke.
I got to shoot the SEC opener earlier this month when UF faced off against Georgia. Here are a few of those shots…