Before I tell you about a sports photography panel discussion at the Kansas City Public Library tonight, take a look at this photo…
You’ve seen it, of course: It was the lead photo on the 64-page World Series special section The star published on Sunday, Nov. 8.
The photographer was longtime Star photographer John Sleezer, who has been the paper’s primary Kansas City Royals’ photographer for years.
The picture captures the exultation of the moment just after Royals’ reliever Wade Davis struck out the last New York Met to seal the World Series championship for the Royals. The photo would be excellent without Eric Hosmer’s glove in the air, but that element gave it a mesmerizing effect, as if the moment of victory was hermetically sealed.
Sleezer was one of four sports photographers who participated in an excellent program at the Central Library, 10th and Main. The other participants were Dave Eulitt, also of The Star, and freelancers Jamie Squire and Denny Medley. Squire and Medley are based in Kansas City.
More than 100 people attended the event, which was presented by Pictures of the Year International, a program administered by the MU School of Journalism, and the Kansas City Chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers.
The photographers talked about their craft, how they were “photo geeks” and how they strive to capture key moments in sports or, as Squire does, frame them in unique ways.
For example, Squire said it took him three days to set up a shot he took at a National Hockey League game. He encased a remote camera in metal and carefully positioned it on the ice, inside the back netting of one goal. The shot Squire ultimately went with showed the goalie on his knees and an opponent’s stick jutting inside the net, seemingly headed toward the viewer’s face.
The use of remote cameras was one of the most interesting parts of the discussion. Sleezer said that for the home World Series games he had three remote cameras set up to give different perspectives, such as views from behind home plate, center field and third base. Sleezer took up his customary position in the “photo well” near the first-base dugout. Then, when he “fired” with his hand-held camera, the shutter action triggered the remote cameras as well, capturing simultaneous frames from different angles.
…At one point in the discussion, Squire and Eulitt talked about their favorite photos. Squire selected one he took of Royals third-baseman Mike Moustakas about to catch a foul pop in last year’s American League Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles. The photo shows the ball an instant before dropping into Moustakas’ glove as he is reaching over a railing, about to fall into a dugout suite.
Eulitt picked a photo of a just-defeated wrestler at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Eulitt said the photo’s great appeal to him was that it was “based in emotion.” The identity of the wrestler or what country he represented were essentially beside the point, Eulitt said; it was the crushing experience of defeat, as seen in the face and body attitude of the wrestler, that made it special.
In a brilliant touch — and Eulitt didn’t talk about this — he intentionally omitted the head of the victorious wrestler. The photo is exclusively about the vanquished.
I want to finish on a digressive note: Under the energetic, inspired leadership of director Crosby Kemper III, who took over in 2004, the Kansas City Public Library has become one of the best in the nation. I can’t imagine how a library could be better.
“Shooting Sports,” as tonight’s event was called, was another in a series of outstanding programs that we Kansas City area residents are privileged to have access to on a regular basis.
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