Real Salt Lake wins the MLS Cup

It’s been a good year for shooting soccer in Salt Lake. World Cup Qualifier, MLS All-Star game, MLS Playoffs, and now the icing on the cake, Real Salt Lake’s Championship win over Beckham, Donovan, and the LA Galaxy.

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Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley (10) collides with LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

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LA’s Sean Franklin and Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola (16).

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Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley (10, right) and LA defender Gregg Berhalter.

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Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley (10) flies over LA defender Gregg Berhalter.

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LA’s Landon Donovan missed a critical shot in the shootout.

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Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18) blocks a shot.

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Again.

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Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18) celebrates a miss by LA’s Landon Donovan during the shoot out.

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Landon.

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The win.

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David Beckham.

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Kyle Beckerman.

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Fans.

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With the Cup.

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The Alleys of Magna

Often my wife will ask me, “What are you shooting tomorrow?”

Almost always I answer, “I don’t know yet.”

It’s not that the information isn’t available. I just find it easier to not look until the final moment. I’ve never been big on pre-visualizing my shots. I’m more of an improv photographer and like to go in with a clear head. But more than that, if you’ve got a dud assignment on your line you don’t want to toss and turn all night long “looking forward” to it.

Another reason I don’t look is that the schedule is always changing. News happens and assignments get shuffled. You can have an assignment on your line for three days only to have it moved off at the last minute.

Early yesterday the assignment “Magna Alleys” was on my line. Here’s the Description from the assignment:

A network of historic alleys remains in Magna. Salt Lake County wants to make it less expensive and less cumbersome for property owners to eliminate these alleys.

Here are the Instructions from the assignment sheet: (Hey wait a minute, I thought Chris Magerl, our photo editor four editors back, had the line “Instructions” changed to “Notes.” When did we revert to taking instructions? We used to consider ourselves journalists on par with those filling out the assignments. Oi!) :

Instructions: (I provided a couple locations of alleys above, but there are a ton of them in the old neighborhoods of Magna)

I looked at that assignment and thought, okay, here’s a challenge. Magna is very photogenic, but photographing alleys for a story on county zoning law? At least the story wouldn’t make the front page, I thought, meaning that if I failed not as many readers would see it.

I didn’t have to worry too long, because Magna Alleys soon vanished from my line, either moved to another shooter or NO-GO’d.

Fast forward to 4pm. It’s freezing cold out with heavy, dark cloud cover. The sun, if you could see it, is getting low. Phone rings.

Editor: You’re back on Magna Alleys. Head out there.

Me: Okay, I’m heading west, but it’s getting dark out. This would have been a much better shot earlier when we had light.

Editor: It’s going to be the centerpiece photo on the Utah Section.

Me: Gulp.

With that kind of set up, you’re expecting an awful photo of an alley in Magna. Oh, I did get a few of those, but lucky for me long-time Magna resident Norm Fitzgerald was game for a photo in the alley space behind his home:

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Also, big thanks to Scott Sommerdorf for finding an old Canon speedlite in his basement and letting me use it. It’s been a big help on at least a dozen assignments now. Who knew?

Defending Our Castle

Sports photography is in a golden age. With today’s equipment I often come away from a single college football game with more portfolio-quality photographs than I could have taken in an entire season twenty years ago. And after a game I want you to see those photographs. You do, to. I’ve heard from many of you on sidelines across the state.

I was especially struck by one opinion from someone who works with one of the top teams in the state. They said they wanted to see photos on the page rather than illustrations. (I’m keeping this source anonymous since it was essentially a private conversation.) They complained to me that the team went to great lengths to give us extra access to players, we made great portraits, and the result was often a small mugshot in the paper next to an illustration of a ball of flames or some other piece of clip art.

Over the past few years the Tribune has begun to rely on more illustration than it did in the past. Especially on the sports page, where the presentation of “sports-talk” types of topics has become more common. For example, if there’s a big football game coming up, you might see the big ball of flames, a panic button, or a golden egg on the page instead of a great photograph of the key players.

What can I say? The way things work at the paper right now is that I shoot an assignment, send in my best work, and that’s it. The golden egg is out of my hands.

A sense of humor helps ease the pain when your best work isn’t seen. A few weeks ago a friend uncovered a beautiful photo by Erich Hartmann in the archives of the famous Magnum Photo Agency, showing a boy reading The Salt Lake Tribune back in 1959. It was a great find and reminded me of the important role that documentary photojournalism plays in our collective history.

A few hours later, another version of the photo popped into my in box, showing what the rest of the scene may have looked like:

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Thanks for the smile.

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