I’ve been shooting a lot of hockey lately, and the experience on Sunday in Milwaukee while shooting the Admirals was just fantastic … and eye opening … so I have to share it (the images I took with my SLR are available by clicking here: the ones in this post are from my cell phone). There’s just something about getting to the rink a few hours before the puck drops that is incredibly relaxing to me. It’s sort of the calm before the storm. Sitting in the seats with a quiet, empty arena. Watching the crew work on the ice, and getting the zamboni and nets ready. Scoping out the locations I want to shoot from in the next few hours. Finnagling my way down in to the corners to sit at the photo window in the glass. Meeting the people working the penalty box, up in the media section, ushers, security, team staff, etc. What a job it would be to be able to fulfill ALL the image needs of a hockey club. To me, photographing hockey is more than just photographing hockey. I don’t want to just take pictures of hockey games. While that is certainly important, I’m thinking that is less than a quarter of what I want to capture for a club.
What else is there? Well for starters, the dedication of the players. For the vast majority of players (Juniors through Pro), they’ve been skating and playing hockey since just after they learned to walk. The dedication it takes to reach a high level of any sport is astounding. I never reached a high level of baseball, soccer, OR hockey… and I worked my ass off for years. I want to photograph the determination and dedication of the players. That comes down to work in the weight rooms, individual training, various camps, team practices, staying late, repeating drills, morning skates, pre-game warm ups, etc… all that painful hard work it takes just to be able to play their level of hockey and stay in the shape to do so. And let’s not forget all the work it takes to come back from injuries.
Past those things, I want to be there to document the off-ice community work with hospitals, charities and other organizations, other sports teams in the area, fund-raising, etc. Interviews with the press, travels to other cities for the games, all-star weekends, locker room antics, camaraderie and brotherhood between players, pre-game rituals, the general silliness and superstitions that hockey players are known for. Interacting with the fans, signing autographs and giving back to everyone who cheers for them on a daily basis, and more or less allows them to receive a paycheck.
It’s no secret that I love hockey, and the news of the NHL lockout coming to an end, and starting a 48-game season on January 19th is great news… but minor league hockey is where I’ve spent the last few months, and it is thriving. With any luck I’ll be able to photograph some NHL games in the truncated schedule, but I’m not holding my breath. For now, I’m going to continue to do what I can for minor league clubs, and show the side of hockey that I need to show. I firmly believe it’s just a matter of time before I’m doing this sort of thing for a hockey club. At this point, it’s just up in the air as to which club wants me to show their club to the world.
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