• Tides : on shooting sports

    I thought it might be a good idea to introduce this blog post by asking a question I already know the answer to, for the most part. What is it about shooting sports that appeals so much to me? It's a valid question and one that I’ve mulled over for about a year now, maybe less, maybe longer, I can’t tell. I have had a very long and strangely personal relationship to the sporting world, having played the majority of them to varying capacities, and enjoying the spectacle and stature, the theatre of the game. Photographing it all feels different, though. I think I know why.

    On Saturday we arrived in Oxford, Mississippi. Texas was playing Ole Miss for the first time ever in their home stadium, and the air felt electric. The fans were clearly in the mood, a chorus of support ringing from every corner of the stadium, even before all the seats were filled. We watched from the press box as the crowd ebbed and flowed, waves of sound and light: and there we were high above them, in a mutual silence of understanding. There we were. It’s a pity the game was a snooze. Nevertheless, hours before, Elisabeth, Andrew, and I pulled into the final media parking spot on the Ole Miss campus and got to work slinging cameras and lenses over our bodies, consolidating bags, checking card functions; it might have looke like we were preparing for war. It didn’t bother me that the entire photo editing staff had left the office to its own devices for the day. It would be just fine without us. We packed up and moved onward. Always moving onward.

    When the game ended some hours later, I felt the usual dissatisfaction that has accompanied the end of every sporting event I’ve covered. No matter how well you do you’ll never be remotely satisfied. It’s almost a rule. This occasion was no different. A stream of thoughts over the shots you missed, the shots you actually didn’t even bother taking, how you were positioned, whether you had the right gear, what to change for next time. All of these things, like clockwork, coming back around in their familiar design. And yet, in all that familiarity something changed, something felt new. It maintained a distance, but it was new.

    The stadium had cleared out by the time we exited the photo workroom to head back up to the pressbox in search of refreshments. The trash remained, though. The endless rows of half-empty popcorn boxes, pizza crusts, hamburger halves, bottles of whiskey (really). And on our way back we stopped to lie down in the middle of the field as ground crews plodded on nearby so that we might stare up at the night sky that had “so much light pollution you couldn’t see a damn thing” but in the same way it was still beautiful and pure. It was one of those moments that is done in jest but I knew I would never forget it. I rarely do.

    Working at The Texan gives you a place, an open arena, to create whatever you want, so long as it’s honest. What more could you ask for during your time at University? It gives you credibility, access, support, teams of like-minded individuals, passionate people who know just as well as you do that they are there because they need it to simply be, it can be so ingrained in us. In November of 2010 I walked around West Campus with my brand new 5D MKII camera and was stung by the incredible notion that I had no idea what to do with it. 2 years later and I unequivocally cannot even fathom what I would have done or where I wouldbe without the people I have met here, and without all of the avenues The Daily Texan has offered, the doors that spring wide open so long as you’re willing to work hard. If not, it’s just another blip in the ether- like anything in that regard, I suppose. But if you put in as much as you can I’ll be damned if you don’t find your avenue. Not your eternal path or something mystical or biblical in that sense, but a piece of what will help define your time, this time, here now. For now.

    And there it was. One of the few things I’ve seen that I desperately wanted to call my own. I’ve already said that there is something about sports that pulls me in, wrapping me in a tight vise of nostalgia, the freedom of childhood, the theatre of awe, the way time seems to stop for so many when something pivotal happens. A catch. The Catch. You know what I mean. When the Tennessee Titans lost the 2000 Super Bowl by a yard after Kevin Dyson was tackled near the goal line when time expired I pushed the small television off its stand and stormed out of the room. When the Patriots lost in 2007, need I describe it any more, I punched a hole in the upstairs bathroom wall. I sat in our living room in 2008, arms folded, and stared at the wall for an hour after the Lakers blew a 24 point lead to the Celtics on their way to losing that years finals. I don't want to talk about the 2012 Super Bowl. Chaos.

    But then there was the time where I ran down the streets of West London at night screaming, jumping in delight when Liverpool stormed back to beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final. Or when I tore the door of my friends apartment open and yelled into the cool air in hysteria when the Lakers finally exorcised that abysmal 2008 nightmare and beat the Celtics in Game 7, 2010. Tracy McGrady versus the Spurs? Laughing out loud when Kobe scored 81. Or even “it’s the last play of the rivalry!”, because hell, we were right there on the field. It means something.

    So when the game hadn’t even started and the crowd rose to sing God Bless America in unity, a sight to behold no matter what your nationality, and when we finally left the stadium behind at one in the morning to do the unthinkable and drive straightthrough I finally came to terms with what I had subconsciously been thinking for the past 6 months, or year. The same feeling I might have first felt in 2011 when I watched Tristan Thompson and Co. running around against Arizona in the NCAA Tournament on tv and feeling a very real sense loss that I, who had covered them for a week previously at the Big 12 Championships, was not there with them anymore. We had our time, it ended, something new would come, but that part was done. They lost on a fluke and the season was over. Then Myck Kabongo arrived and the whole thing started again. It all started with Kabongo maybe.  That’s a cryptic little piece of info I’m going to leave hanging in the air.

    “I guess this is the last time Lawrence and I get to shoot football anyways,” Andrew mentioned to Elisabeth in the car. How true, I thought, how true and how sad. Not just within the idea that this is our last opportunity to cover UT sports as undergrad photographers, but that it will no doubt be the last time WE, we, that togetherness, will cover these games. That is what I realized, and came to believe had known for some time. Sports and photography may be there for me, us, whoever, in the future in some capacity, but this won’t be, this specific form of sports media, and that’s both the crux and the most sublime beauty of it. Of everything in life. Of everything we do at this organization, not just sports. Whether it be in video, design, writing, we all know we are part of a bigger whole. And yet it's temporary.  It’s what nostalgia is built upon, the irreplaceability of a unique time or past. Temporality realized. It comes and goes so quick, but can last in the mind for so long. Always changing, always evolving, moving forward, I may have mentioned. So much spectacle, so much emotion, for such a fleeting physical moment whose memory feels etched into your vision, burned into your sight. The screaming, the lights, the fluid movement, chaotic madness made still, the players, the history. The stadiums.

    Oh, the stadiums.

    I took the only photos I liked before the game even started, in the case of Andrew writing in our hotel room, before we even got to the stadium. Of course there is also a photo of backs because I just love taking photos of backs. It’s seeing what they see and what you see, double vision. A spectacle thing, and one that made me realize, the whole purpose of this post, that this truly is temporary, emphasized when you experience these kinds of things with other people right there with you. The Texan as a whole is like that. The game will end. The semester will vanish. The year will, too. And instead of resting on your fragile laurels, borne from entitlement and arrogance or whatever you want to believe prevents you from doing your best work, the time comes when you simply must realize that time isn’t the enemy when you can beat it to the punch and manipulate it for all it’s worth. The Texan will let you do that. It gives you every single fathomable thing  you need to expand your horizon, may you waste it at your own will, to no ones fault but your own. What an incredible thought. Autonomy is real, you know. I've seen it. I've wasted it, too.

    “Something good will come of all things yet.”

    And when it does, I know who - all of the incredible people I work with every day - and what, I’ll have to thank.

    I’ll miss it so much. I already do.

    Lawrence Peart is a senior in International Relations and American Studies, and current Photo Editor at The Daily Texan.

  • Horns Stomp Rebels

    For the first time in school history, the Texas Longhorns traveld to Oxford, Miss. to play the Ole Miss Rebels, an event that drew a capacity crowd to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, estimated at 61,797. By the fourth quarter, however, the majority of the fans had already left, as Texas ran away with a 66-31 win.

    Texas captains Trey Hopkins, Alex Okafor, Kenny Vaccaro, and Ryan Roberson prepare to take the field before the Longhorns' first-ever trip to Oxford. Texas went on to trounce the Rebels, 66-31, to improve to 3-0. Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

    Junior linebacker Jordan Hicks brings down Ole Miss' Randall Mackey, one of his three tackles in the 66-31 victory. The Longhorns defense allowed nearly 400 yards, not including a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. But the Texas offense more than made up for the defensive miscues, scoring more points in one game since the 2005 Big 12 title game. Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

    Alex Okafor takes on a Rebels offensive lineman. The senior defensive end made three tackles, including two of Texas' five sacks — all in the first half — on the night. Okafor was part of a defense that picked off Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace three times but found itself susceptible to giving up big plays. Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

    Senior D. J. Monroe prepares to celebrate after a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter — the first of five second-half touchdowns scored by Texas against Ole Miss Saturday. Monroe, who has scored in each of the Longhorns' three games this season, was part of a Texas offense that racked up 676 total yards, tied for the second-highest single-game total in school history. Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

    Sophomore quarterback David Ash eludes an Ole Miss defender during the Longhorns' win over the Rebels Saturday. Ash was 19-of-23 passing for 324 yards and four touchdowns — both career-highs. Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

    Sophomore running back Joe Bergeron gets one of his 11 carries against Ole Miss Saturday. Bergeron ran for 48 yards before exiting with a shoulder injury, although the initial prognosis is not serious. Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

  • Double Take

    Photo Editor’s note: The Daily Texan is heading into a new frontier with Enterprise, which, in a nutshell, takes a small group from the Texan and dedicates them to more in-depth special projects focusing on contemporary issues affecting the UT and Austin community. We’re still working out the kinks. For us in the photo department, the first foray proved to be a touch more complicated than we would have liked. A little bit of miscommunication, a little bit of idealism, a touch of rain, all part of the learning process at a student newspaper. I mentioned we are working out the kinks. Mishaps aside, the process of coming into a new visual understanding is always a rewarding one. Impressed by his ability to string together a number of strong portraits in a short period of time last week, I assigned senior photographer Zachary Strain to photograph Joshua Tran, one of the sources for reporter Andrew Messamore’s story on the economic circumstances surrounding housing in West Campus. Tran was easy to photograph, comfortable in front of the camera, casual and calm. Zach had a few ideas for portraits so I let him go free and sat on the couch, assuming my editor position in a newfound way : being there to “edit” on site. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and efficient process, especially when it came to the close-up of Tran. Zach would take some shots, ask me if they would work, I would suggest an few things, and he would continue. We must have gone through 5 or so sets of close-up photos before we came to a consensus. “The pursuit of perfection!” we joked, knowing full well the unattainable nature of such a thing, especially with anything visual.

    “Frame the shot a little lower”
    “Make sure the lights aren’t in the background”
    “Focus on the nose, not the eyes”
    “Have him relax his face”
    “Less teeth”
    “More teeth”

    For the last take, I told Zach that it was up to him to decide whether he got the photo or not, a good move because he produced it immediately. I thought it would be a visual treat to see my view from the couch and the photo that Zach produced. Oh, and the one he did outside, one that falls into what could become a category with him, the casual in-between portrait.

    Here’s to hoping the kinks get de-kinked in the near future.

    I love this job.  
    - Lawrence Peart

  • The tryout that may never be: Thomas Allison

    Photo Editor’s note: I was surprised to find former senior photographer Thomas Allison sitting in the Daily Texan Photo office when I arrived in “the basement” this morning. There comes a time when all of the old guard feels the need to move on to other things, having performed many semesters, if not years, of dutiful service to this publication, and Thomas was no exception, a rock in the Photo department since 2010. But there he was, eating a sandwich, a broad smile on his face, voicing his uncertainty about whether it was a good idea to come back on staff as an issue photographer. A tryout for someone of Thomas’ caliber is in every way a simple formality, so I sent him to photograph an assignment that required a sure hand and a certain vision. The assignment involved taking pictures of two young entrepreneurs, Tobin and Griffin Wine, who are in the process of raising money to fund their new business, Games Save The World. Tobin and Griffin are eight and six respectively. A few hours later, before the actual assignment had commenced, I learned from our managing editor that we needed a new DOM (dominant, headline) image for the front page. Thomas’ assignment was already the DOM image for the back page, but I sent him a text saying that he needed to bring us back two, or a Double DOM. Sure enough, he did, and more. Here is a sample of his take that features images with a purely human touch, a simple honesty that shows how important it is to make your subjects comfortable when photographing them. I’m glad this blog exists. If it didn’t I would have had to go through with my playful suggestion, made as I watched the designers put some of these photos in the paper, asking: “Can’t we just run them all?”. - Lawrence Peart

    “I’ve always enjoyed shooting assignments involving kids. Their uninhibited energy means that from one frame to the next everything can change, and frequently does. However, I was especially impressed by the worldliness of the Wine brothers. At eight and six, Tobin and Griffin are C.E.O and C.F.O respectively of their own business, Games Save The World. Their new game, Monster Crabs, has already surpassed the necessary amount to fund the project on Kickstarter.com, raising more than four thousand dollars. What began as a business learning experience by their father Aaron Wine, seems like it might actually earn the two a nice profit. I feel quite confident that their entrepreneurial spirit will serve them well for years to come.” - Thomas Allison

    Thomas Allison is a former Daily Texan Senior Photographer and a student in the Photojournalism school at the College of Communication. This past summer he traveled to Mexico and China as part of Students of the World, documenting the stories of cancer survivors for Livestrong.

  • Texas Challah for Hunger

    Photo Editor’s note: Daily Texan Photo tryout Shelby Tauber photographed Texas Challah for Hunger today at the Texas Hillel, the local Jewish center just off campus. The group was busy baking challah bread to be sold on in an effort to raise money for the Capitol Area Food Bank. Assisted by some very smooth nearby window light and an engaging student populace, Shelby brought back a number of well made images that captures the spirirt of the groups as they volunteered their time for the greater good. - Lawrence Peart

    Shelby Tauber is a freshman at The University of Texas and current Daily Texan Photo tryout.