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October 25, 2017 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017 // The Statement

Personal Statement: Capturing the small sports


e’re all taught at a very
young age that great results
come from hard work and

perseverance. Athleticism has always fas-
cinated me, and it’s safe to say that most
of America feels this way, too. We spend
hours of our Saturdays glued to the TV
watching football games. We stay up late
if our teams are playing in different time
zones. Sports culture is enormous in the
United States, and this rings especially
true at the University of Michigan.

As a senior at the University, I’ve done

an obscene amount of self reflection
these past few weeks. More specifically,
reflecting on my time at The Daily and
memories of some of the biggest trips
I’ve taken to cover athletics: to Joe Louis
Arena for the last “Duel at the D” in histo-
ry, to Kansas City (which isn’t actually in
Kansas) to see Oregon defeat Michigan in
the Sweet Sixteen by one point, to Iowa to
see the Hawkeyes defeat the Wolverines
by one point. These were all exciting and
monumental moments in my photogra-
phy career, but I find myself reflecting on
small, less popular sports as some of the
pinnacle moments in crafting my images.
I believe it will always be the less popular
sports like women’s basketball, lacrosse
or tennis, that I can accredit to my suc-

There are certain photos you have to

capture at major sports like football,
basketball or hockey. There’s immense
pressure to get these photos because cap-
turing the biggest moments of action are
critical. If you fail, it’s obvious; your pub-
lication doesn’t feature the shots. While
I am always grateful to be able to cover
football or men’s basketball, it oftentimes
feels as though the creative, storytell-
ing aspect isn’t as important as getting
these game-specific shots. If you miss
a touchdown or scored point, your work
doesn’t seem to hold as much credibil-
ity compared to someone who captured
every pivotal moment in a game. While
this pressure creates incredible oppor-
tunities for growth in the field of sports
photography, I sometimes feel as though
my creative voice is lost in the demand
for specific photographs. Though photo-
graphing the big sports provides a unique
wave of energy, I often prefer the intima-
cy of smaller ones.

I can still remember my first time walk-

ing into the Crisler Center to photograph
women’s basketball — it was my first
time photographing a Michigan Athletics
event. I’m sure I looked like I had no idea
what I was doing (two different event staff
asked if I knew where I was going), but I
was determined. Even though this was an

important game against Michigan’s bit-
ter rival Ohio State, hardly any photog-
raphers were present. The atmosphere in
Crisler felt relaxed, but I still felt the need
to purely capture action shots.

During my second basketball game a

few weeks later, I walked into Crisler and
noticed a sea of pink: pink jerseys, pink
shoes, pink headbands, pink pompoms.
I quickly learned it was the team’s annu-
al Pink Game, an afternoon spent pay-
ing tribute to those fighting or who have
already fought against breast cancer. This
was my second time taking photographs
of a Michigan game. I snapped a few pho-
tos of the pink elements but figured they
wouldn’t have much use because they
weren’t action-related. During halftime, a
Daily reporter found me on the court and
said he was writing about the impact and
importance of the Pink Game. He asked if
I could try to capture as many pink-related
photos as I could because they would add
to the story. It seemed like a simple ges-
ture at the time, but this moment had a
profound impact on my view of sports pho-


I still hold onto this moment today — it

has taught me time and time again to cap-
ture stories beyond just the game itself.
Though peak action shots are important
to any given game, it’s equally as impor-
tant to tell a story with my photography
— especially one that isn’t often told. The
smaller sports at Michigan often don’t
receive much publicity. As a photogra-
pher, I believe it’s part of my responsibil-
ity to give these teams the same attention I
would the football, hockey and basketball

With this in mind, I cover as many

Michigan Athletics events as my schedule
allows. My favorite is covering women’s

While popular sports like football

present the challenge of capturing the
perfect image of peak action, gymnas-
tics has its own set of challenges: find-
ing a unique angle that fully captures the
event. Women’s gymnastics never fails
to present me with this wonderful chal-
lenge of finding unique angles. Meets are

always fast-paced, not taking any time for
lengthy breaks in between events. With a
challenge to create unique visual imagery
with each different meet I photograph,
this sport gives me tools to succeed in any
other sport I’m shooting. If I feel myself
getting too comfortable in a position on
the hardwood floor, I force myself to move
elsewhere to find a new angle. Though
I’m not actually performing the difficult
routines that gymnasts do, I perform to
capture their grace and elegance in their
athleticism. That is the challenge of story-

I’ve received photo credentials on behalf

of The Daily to access places like Joe Louis
Arena, the Sprint and Kohl Centers, and
the Kinnick and Beaver Stadiums. Though
I proudly display the fancy photo creden-
tials that hang on my wall, every other
credential I’ve ever received from photo-
graphing Michigan Athletics events hangs
right next to them, reminding me of all
the smaller, intimate sports moments that
have led me to where I am today.

by Zoey Holmstrom, Senior Photo Editor


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