SSA X! Shooting Sports in a Foreign Land

For those who know me, it is no secret, I love shooting sports. For those who don’t…I love shooting sports.

At the end of February, I headed back to SoCal to attend Sports Shooter Academy (for my 2.5 time). This time, I had a very specific goal in mind. I wanted to learn how to set up remotes for basketball.

Basketball is by far my favourite sport to play, but when it comes to shooting it, for some reason, it is not my best. Some would also say when it comes to playing, it is also not my best, but that is not besides the point.

After arriving in SoCal and during the Lighting Luau portion of the workshop, I used my amazing charm and lack of boundaries to enlist the help of THE expert in the field of basketball remotes – Shawn Cullen. Basically, this just came down to me asking him to pile up all the equipment I would need to set one up and I would hand over my credit card. So thanks for helping me to spend a pile of money Shawn.

Day One:

When the time had finally come to set up the remote, I still needed a bit of help. Thankfully, I had an amazing set of faculty members at the basketball game I was covering. Since we were shooting in his home of Cal State Fullerton, I could not have asked for a better person than Matt Brown to help me set up my first ever post remote.

Here are the results:

CandiceWard_Thurs_Basketball01CandiceWard_Thurs_Basketball02CandiceWard_Thurs_Basketball03For someone who knew absolutely NOTHING about how to set one up until that day, I could not be more thankful than the help I was given by Matt and Rod Mar**. I had about 20 or more images from this camera that would have been useable images for the paper, if it were an actual assignment.

**Something that I have to mention, was the help from Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks photographer. I met Rod the first time I attended SSA and always enjoy his criticism. He is honest to a fault, but always has the intention of teaching at heart. If something does not work, he will tell you, but he will also go to bat for you if he thinks you nailed the photo and will do it with great enthusiasm. He is an amazing teacher and I am a better photographer for have had the chance to cross paths with him.

During the next morning critic, it was brought to my attention that my backgrounds are far too messy (thanks again Shawn…HA!). My brain is so trained on getting ‘the shot’ that I don’t generally worry to much on where it is happening. This is when I realized that there is a very big difference between being a sports photographer and a photojournalist. Sometimes, it is not a reality for me to stay a whole game or wait for the action to come into my well-thought out background. Sometimes, I have to be a cowboy and ride in, get my shot and ride out again, all before the period, quarter, or half ends. And I generally have to work with the angle I am given access to. Thankfully, workshops like this, gave me a chance to shoot with purpose and the opportunity to fail without pressure.

After my critic with Shawn Cullen, he suggested that I pick a spot at my next event and just wait for the action to come into the frame. I came back with nothing…but it was still a great exercise in trying to make photos with impact without having the background take away from it.

Day Two:

Another goal of the workshop for me was to learn more about hyper sync. Thanks to Ian Ray from PocketWizard for pointing me in the right direction with the gear and knowledge on how to achieve this. It will come in handy when I am working on my athlete project that I started last year (see past blog entries).


Ian Ray from PocketWizard. He does not love this photo…as I was actually just testing to make sure the flash was firing.

Although she is not moving in this photo, I still for the high shutter speeds I was looking for. Also, with backgrounds on the brain, I did not shoot a lot for this.

Beach Volleyball Player Michelle Moriarty /Photo by Candice Ward

Day Three:

Disappointed that I could not sign up to shoot another basketball game, on the last day of the workshop, I signed up for track and field. I used to compete in track and field growing up, so I do love all that is has to offer and knew there would be a million photo opportunities. Here are three of the ones I can back with that day.

CandiceWard_SAT_Track03 CandiceWard_SAT_Track02 CandiceWard_SAT_Track01

As dumb as this is going to sound, but knowing from experience, I tried very hard to suffer from knowledge overload over the course of the week. It is extremely easy to learn too much at a workshop like this and then have a hard time letting it all sink in when you get home and then feeling overwhelmed. This time around, I focused a lot more on learning the two things I went there to learn and then picked up a few other skills as a bonus.

At the end of the day, I am extremely happy with the results from the workshop. I went in with a specific goal and I am happy with what I achieved. I would recommend this workshop to anyone looking to improve their sports photography skills.

Thank you to everyone who makes this workshop possible, Robert Hanashiro, Matt Brown and all the other amazing faculty, the sponsors – Nikon, PocketWizard, Samy’s Camera, the subjects and athletes, and the venues. I am sure I will be back in the future as I love to surround myself with people who share the same passion for shooting sports as I do. I am still waiting for the Canadian version though when everyone can come up here and shoot hockey, curling and skeleton.

2 thoughts on “SSA X! Shooting Sports in a Foreign Land

  1. What an amazing experience! I would love to attend that at least once. Thanks for the insight into what is actually happening during the camp.

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