Intro by Marc-Grégor Campredon: The MGoBlog photographer team covered over 50 events in 2018, all over the country. Sports photography is not all about capturing the action; It is about the moments, emotions, and stories. I am extremely honored to be part of such a talented team of photographers with Patrick Baron, James Coller, Bryan Fuller, JD Scott, and our now-graduated senior, Eric Upchurch.
Also very thankful to the additional photographers who are always ready to jump in and cover for us when no one can: Bill Rapai, Paul Sherman, George Borel, Ryan McLoughlin and Dianna Oatridge. All that incredible work would not be possible without Brian’s support, David’s help and everyone at MGoBlog: Thanks guys. And of course, thank you to our readers.
You can find all the photos taken this past year and more on our Flickr! page. Each photographer also selected 15 of our personal favorites from 2018, sorted per photographer, and chose three to write a little something about.
The easiest part of photography is taking the picture - it’s literally just pushing a button. The adventure behind what it took to press that button is often lost, because the end result, the photo, is really all that matters. For example, to take a photo of the team coming out of the tunnel under the lights began with a 7 hour drive from Appleton, Wisconsin (where I currently live) to Ann Arbor. After failing to find a seat in the sardine-packed photo editing room and resorting to either the floor or interview room, I take the field during warm-ups by swimming through the sea of sideline pass VIPs like a salmon in Katmai. I wanted to try something new for the player entrance so I did my stadium-step rep to row 60ish and waded my way through the definitely-sober influx of students and around to Section 1. I gave my fondest thanks to the group that sits just above the tunnel who were kind enough to let me squat under them with my camera until the players came out. By the time my leg went numb I had changed my settings four times, taken about 100 practice photos (thank you, band), and 20 minutes had passed. From there it was easy, just press and hold the shutter button. Legs still numb, I did another stadium-step rep to row what-felt-like-1,000 and sprinted my way back around the stadium, down through the student section, and onto the field.
1. SECTION ZERO:
My trip to the Elite 8 in L.A. was planned the day before. I had some sudden availability and Brian was generous enough to expense me a last-minute flight. After getting about 4 hours of sleep I woke up at 4 a.m., booked it to the airport, and was on a 7-hour travel binge to L.A. I never thought I’d have to travel over 2,000 miles the morning of a game to get there on time, but I survived. My typical duties were pretty routine once I was there, but in a celebration ceremony anything can happen. A lot of it is shooting Hail Maries (holding your camera above your head and hoping you get something). I’m only 5’8” so this is pretty much a requirement for basketball players. Pro-tip to aspiring photographers: don’t be rude, but being aggressive and holding your ground during a celebration mosh pit is a necessity. I got my shots and went to publish. Exhausted, I went back onto the court after everyone had left and I grabbed some leftover confetti, as well as a tiny, tiny leftover piece of nylon that was still on the court (now my most prized Michigan sports possession).
As a photographer my goal is to always grow and step outside the box. Think differently. What shots have been done a million times and what’s new? I’ve sprinted, climbed stadiums, driven across the Midwest, flown across the country, fallen on a slippery Spartan Stadium*, had Notre Dame players tackled at me three plays in a row, hockey pucks hit my lens, rained on, sleeted on, and heckled by Bucky. There’s a bit of sweat and tears behind each photo that you don’t see. But am I ready to do it all again? You betcha.
3. THE EYE
*shout out to the MSU player that called me a “dumbass” for slipping as Michigan players celebrated with Paul Bunyan, oops!
[After THE JUMP: the basketball guy, the football guy, the hockey guy]
It is extremely hard to be satisfied of your own work. What makes a good image? The feedback and the impact an image have on the community is probably the answer. When I witnessed the Matthews / Ward interaction during the B1G semifinal in NYC, I had a feeling I had captured a good image. I remember texting back and forth with Ace telling him that I had one single frame to prioritize getting published at half time (When usually, I send 10-15 images). He responded to me something like “No problem, I trust you”… A few minutes later, I could not believe how impacting that image was.
Those reactions are the most important award I have ever received.
2. THE MECCA
My second pic is extremely personal. When I realized the B1G was gonna happen at the Garden… I had to go and I had to capture the ceiling. My dad and Grandpa traveled to NYC from France in the late 80’s to watch a boxing match. I grew up hearing continuously about Madison Square Garden. I knew what look I wanted even before the season started!
3. "YOU CAN'T USE 'LITERALLY' BEFORE A FIGURATIVE STATEMENT!"
Jon Teske has been, for months, one of my utmost favorite players to photograph and interact with. I could write a full diary just on that photo because it really captures something untold about him: He crushes his opponents in defense but also in offense.
The many details of that image make it somewhat of a perfect “scholarly book” photo!
It is hard for me to believe, but 2018 was my seventh season covering Michigan athletics for MGoBlog. With two young kids at home now, I cut back a little this year (particularly on basketball), but even after all of these seasons, I still can’t believe how lucky I am to get to cover these great teams! When you take thousands of photos during the year, it is difficult to narrow down to just a few favorites, but these are three that I particularly liked this year.
The first is a shot of Shea Patterson silencing the Michigan State crowd after his touchdown pass to Nico Collins in the first half. Shea played a great game that day and even though I wasn’t in a great position to capture Nico’s catch over the middle, I was in a perfect spot for Shea’s reaction---nothing beats shutting up Sparty in their own stadium!
The second photo I chose is from the Big 10 Wresting Championships. Every year I try to branch out and try to get to some events outside of just basketball and football. I’ve tried my hand at swimming, track & field, hockey, quite a bit of softball, and this year I wanted to try wrestling. This shot was from an epic match between Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder and Michigan’s Adam Coon. These two highly decorated wrestlers battled several times over the years, and while Snyder ultimately eeked out the win, this was a thrilling finale.
3. THE WILD BLUE
The last shot is of Sean McKeon reaching for the ball in the endzone against Indiana. The pass was actually incomplete, but still really liked how the shot turned out with the ball just hovering against a beautiful blue sky backdrop. All in all, it was a year filled with some great highs (shooting the Final Four in San Antonio) and some tough lows (the OSU game in Columbus), and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store.
Lastly, I would like to end by thanking Eric Upchurch for all of his hard work and dedication to MGoBlog. Eric started shooting for the site the year before I came onboard and he was a tremendous help to me from Day One, as well as a terrific photographer and friend.
This photo, during Michigan vs. Notre Dame in February, shows the high point of emotion of the game.
This photo, during Michigan vs Michigan State during the GLI in January, shows both one of my favorite photos, but also one of my most terrifying photos as a hockey photographer. The puck was flying directly toward my camera when I got this photo, and thankfully it hit the glass just below where my lens was poking out.
3. AMERICAN PIE
This photo, during Michigan vs Michigan State during the GLI in December, shows the beauty of Little Caesars Arena during the national anthem, and is one of my favorite views of the arena.
This isn't easy, so I'm going with my top 3 moments and an image I like from my gallery that pairs with it. The hockey one is my favorite image from hockey I've shot, though.
1. CALDERONE SCORES
Tony Calderone goes top shelf versus Wisconsin. He scored 4 goals (a hat-trick with a sprinkle on top!) in Michigan's 6-5 victory over the Badgers.
This was the most action-packed hockey game I've covered, especially the first period. That period, I was shooting from the camera perch on the 2nd level, which provided a great angle to catch the flight of the puck.
2. BEAUBIEN'S NO-NO
Meghan Beaubien struck out 11 and no-hit the Terrapins, as Michigan won in 6 innings 8-0.
I really like the framing of this image. Beaubien's arms raised in a V reminds me of Daniel LaRusso's (dare I say "iconic") pose at the end of The Karate Kid. She looks like she's poised to strike, and for good reason.
Jordan Poole embraces (now former) teammate Ibi Watson, moments after sinking the game-winning 3-pointer in the Round of 32 versus Houston. Michigan won 64-63 on St. Patrick's Day.
There were many images from this game that I could've chosen but I picked one of the more intimate ones. I think the fact that Watson wound up leaving makes the photo more interesting to me. But, I also think that this shows that sometimes it's more than the moments that happen on the court but who you get to share them with that matter.
Of course, if I'd gotten a better f-ing shot of the game-winner....
This is Seth speaking, since Eric left the site at the end of this year and didn't put together a gallery. But I've selected some of my favorites from this year.
MGoBlog will get together every so often for beers or road games, but the staff weekend that Eric hosted remains one of the highlights of our almost decade together, as well as the reason our wives still show us photos of each others' growing families that they've seen on the other's social media. I'm sure everyone who works here read or knew about the site before that, but Upchurch and I were really the only two fanboys to ever be plucked from the front row and join the band. The dream never measures up to reality—work is work—but I will miss having someone I can glance at before a game to share a "How did we get here, man?" look with.
This is also what I loved best about his work. Eric's lens found the things a more professionally trained photographer wouldn't know to look for. Eric's photos told a story because he bothered to know the storylines, an extension of his knowledge and love for Michigan football. He knew, for example, that John O'Neill and his crew are notoriously bad at controlling cheap shots:
THE INSULT AND THE INJURY
He knew the background of Trace McSorley taunting Michigan last year at the White Out:
FOR THE FENCES
And he knew how to give me a shot that I'll need for Hail to the Victors next year, plus the one I don't but will put into my desktop rotation. We come from different backgrounds, see the game from very different perspectives, and play entirely different music when it's one another's turn with the guitar. But there will always, always be respect.
THE MOMENT OF SILENCE
Happy New Year.