I love, love, love to travel. I hope whatever my future holds, it holds a significant amount of travel. I love traveling with my wife, my family, even by myself. I love travel. When I can combine travel with covering a big football game then I am doubly happy. The opportunity to cover the Alabama vs Michigan game in Dallas came as a big surprise to me. I hoped but I did not put much stock in those hopes; however, at the last minute, our editor gave the approval and I was happily on my way.
I know most folks listen to music when the drive. I do, but only a little. What I love is hearing my car sing the highway song. No, I am not crazy. The little engine hums along and the tires sing as they coast along the pavement and I am a happy camper zipping along watching America pass by outside my windshield. The thing I love about driving is being able to stop whenever and wherever I want to. I am not tied to airports and their notorious hassles. So far, TSA does not check my bags, nor my person, as I zip along the highways. As a double bonus on this trip, I was able to take a side trip to visit two of my kids who now live in Texas. I still don’t know how that happened. I am not old enough to have grown children spread all over the world but, in spite of my youth, they are spread all over the world anyway.
Does this post have a point? Oh yes, I was lost in my travel musings. I mean, really, if I could find a way to make money shooting on the road like that I would put the newspaper world in my rear view mirror. I love travel and I love photography. Can’t you just see it; me, my lady and an RV zooming down the highway looking for the next cool thing to photograph! My, my. Oh, the point! Yes, there is a point.
I was amazed by Cowboys Stadium out there in Arlington. It looks like a big old space ship or something that landed so the aliens could go to the Texas Rangers ballpark next door which is a beautiful new stadium built in the traditions of the old baseball parks. Beautiful place. Love to shoot there someday. Back inside Jerry Jones’s space ship, I knew I wanted to get a picture from the upper deck to show the scope of the place but doing that can be tricky. Even a big, modern stadium like that has limited elevator space and around game time you can have a long wait for a trip up and another long wait for the trip down. I had done a pre-game video and was debating if I had time to get up and down and not miss the first quarter. I talked to one of the stadium security guys. He gave me directions to the best elevator and then said, “See ya next week.” Not very encouraging but I was committed.
I only waited two or three minutes on the elevator to show up and in no time I was exiting onto the upper concourse. I walked straight out to a beautiful spot just below the upper deck and had a nice angle then I saw I was on the wrong side of the field. Bama folks don’t care to see a bunch of yellow in their photos. I had to make a mad dash around the crowded upper concourse to get to the Alabama side. Now very worried about getting into position to get the shot of the team coming on the field and making it back without missing too much of the game, I was almost puked on by a sick fan. This young guy turned around and projectile vomited right in front of me. Seriously, another step and I would have been gacked on.
After doding around to the Alabama side I found a very satisfying spot to shoot from. I wanted to get a good shot of the crowd and that giant, and I do mean giant, TV hanging from the roof. The Alabama band was on the field spelling out B A M A and I got that shot from a couple of angles. The only problem, using a wide lens you get the wide perspective. That is nice for showing the scope of the crowd and the stadium but it diminished the size of the giant TV. Without doing a panoramic and stitching something together, which I had not time to do, I had to compromise. I got my shot as the Crimson Tide team came on the field but I liked the band photo better when I did the edit.
Now for the mad dash back to the field. I was seriously hoping to get back to field level before midway through the first quarter. God was with me. I hit the elevator button and the door opened within a minute. I was back at field level within a couple more minutes. The stadium security guy yelled, “How did it go?” as I ran past. I gave a thumbs up and yelled great and emerged on the sideline just after the opening kickoff. I missed literally one play!
Normally, going from press level to field level is an ordeal of waiting. In fact, most of the time I could be faster doing my Spiderman impersonation and climbing the outside of the stadium rather than wait on the elevator. This time it worked. God was smiling. I didn’t miss the first quarter, a quarter where I got most of my best game photos, and was able to send 40 photos back to the newspaper during halftime. You can bet the photo of the Alabama band shot from the upper concourse was in that edit!
All that for a photo I had to have that most people took a glance at and moved on quickly to the action images? It meant something to me. I figured I may never be in that stadium again and if that was right why would I not do my best to get every photo I wanted to get? Was it extra work? Sure, and the pay is the same whether I do the extra or not. No one asked me to shoot the picture just like no one asked me to do the video so why do it? Hey, I might never be here again. Why not leave it all on the field, as the old sports saying goes? Why shortchange yourself? Moreover, why shortchange the readers? Why not go above and beyond expectations and give people something they might never have the chance to see? If I have learned anything over the years, you may never have this chance again so you should make the most of every chance you have.
Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story!” You tell ‘em Paul. Y’all go make a picture.