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Archive 2013 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...
  
 
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #1 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


This may be the strangest post I've ever made here. And that would be saying something!

I like to peruse the web to see whether and how my images are being used. A few days ago I came across a blog of sorts that often uses my photos from Jazz games (legally, working through USA TODAY Sports Images). This particular post was taking me to task, by name, for the nature of the images I was uploading. Some of this was about there being more photos of James Harden than Paul Milsap (easily explained when you consider I've got 40 chances to shoot Milsap and maybe 2 or 3 to shoot Harden). But in addition, at the same time this blogger gleefully posted a couple of my images of one of the Jazz Dancers, he questioned the motives behind my submitting multiple shots of this particular dancer over the course of several Jazz games. Got me to thinking. Why do we shoot cheerleaders, dancers, and other such elements of the event that are separate from the game action? I know one reason is that I'm asked by my employer to do so because there are clients for these images. So the next question is why do I tend to get stuck on one or two cheerleaders/dancers when there are quite a few others to choose from? I'd contend it's because the camera always tends to gravitate to the one or two who seem to be more photogenic than the others. And I suppose I can't avoid the admission that this interacts with the particular Y chromosome my dear ol' dad bestowed upon me. Right? Which takes me back to the original question. Why are we (I'm not the only one, right?) shooting these images of cheerleaders and dancers? And is it legit for me to suggest that my choices about these photos--which ones I take and which ones I choose to submit--are no more or less personal and a reflection of me than those same choices about the game action or candid shots of athletes? Interesting food for thought.... So I thought I'd post some of my cheer/dancer shots and ask for your opinions. Which do you like best? Why? And do you see a place for these kinds of images in a gallery from a sporting event? We'll see where this goes.

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Jan 12, 2013 at 04:20 AM
mkchang
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p.1 #2 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Fact is, cheerleaders are part of the game. So are fans, coaches, mascots, etc...

Here's one of mine that was used:
http://www.examiner.com/slideshow/hottest-cheerleaders-college-football-week-4#slide=53412526


But like you said, these images sell and that what the wires want. I also agree that you tend to gravitate to certain cheerleaders because they are more photogenic. I know there have been a few games where I've shot the same cheerleader simply because she was the one closest.



Jan 12, 2013 at 04:41 AM
gschlact
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p.1 #3 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Russ,
Too many questions for the end of the week

We all like the variety, color, shapes, curves, smiles, friendliness, poses, etc etc, and they are plain pretty to look at. I do believe that for most posting of cheerleaders, there is likely a personal bias involved, after all, you were looking in the first place to know that you were going to take the shot, right?

And let's admit it, there are a heck of a lot fewer shots showing up on these forum threads of male cheerleaders or mascots. The ladies are just more appealing for most of us.

Guy



Jan 12, 2013 at 04:43 AM
matt.garnett
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p.1 #4 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


There are a lot of great images here, but I really feel like 12 barely edges out. It's got great action, facial expression, good composition, and the colors are phenomenal. Do I think there is place for pictures like these in image galleries for sporting events? Depends on your angle. I think from a more news standpoint, it's a lot more about action rather than reaction, and it's especially more about the actual game. For a gallery of the game though, there is so much more to sporting events these days than the actual games (specifically higher level games). If you are submitting photos to an agency like you talk about, I don't see why you wouldn't want to post them. You're covering the game, which isn't always directly related to what the players are doing.

Getting stuck on a couple dancer/cheerleaders/etc. I think you've got it spot on though. It's hard to have a great photo when your subject isn't very great.

I think in the end you analyze what you have and try and produce the best image, even if that means you shoot more of a particular person because they are more photogenic than the others.



Jan 12, 2013 at 04:50 AM
dwerther
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p.1 #5 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Russ - I hope you get some interesting and thoughtful replies. Although with some here being concerned about clients, employers, or spouses finding their post with a Google search you may not get what you would in a private conversation.

Higher level sports have traditionally been for and about men (although that is changing from HS volleyball up to the Olympics) and men are attracted to pretty girls. Cheerleaders are a part of the sports scene from Pop Warner on up. I live in Dallas and we have arguably the most recognizable and famous cheer squad in this part of the galaxy. With the huge video monitor at Cowboy Stadium this spectacle is a little hard to miss. If you are shooting an event with cheerleaders present then NOT documenting the cheerleaders is to not document the complete presentation of the event. It doesn't make sense.

I believe in intelligent design. I believe God built man to be on the lookout for the most stimulating and promising mate that will deliver the highest chance for successful reproduction. Both consciously and unconsciously (the looking out part... not the reproduction). This explains the unpopularity among men of Rosie O'Donnell.

My wife would say I am unconscious a lot of the time but for instance I may be walking into a post office with my mind on some business situation, and out of nowhere my head turns to get a better look at a female walking away from me. This is not a conscious decision on my part - it is the subconscious mate-selection gene at work. I can't possibly be the only one.

Part of that intelligent design is that each of us has a unique subset of features that we find attractive (Playmate of the Month notwithstanding). For that reason cheerleader A that you find attractive may not be all that interesting to me. Maybe it is the eyes, the hair, the shape of her face, her body proportions, or some combination that does it but I believe The Designer intended this to be the case so that all males are not attracted to the same female (Megan Fox).

Thus - it is natural for you to be attracted to concentrate on one or two cheerleaders to the relative exclusion of the others. Being the professional that you are you recognize that a saleable image trumps personal attraction most of the time. When the two become one then all is right with the world, eh? Superficial? No. Genetic? Yes.

Me? Well, let's just say that what it takes The Bachelor an entire season to accomplish, I could do in about 5 minutes with 25 bikinis. Superficial? No. Efficient? Yes!

OK, yeah I'm superficial.

Edited on Jan 12, 2013 at 05:34 PM · View previous versions



Jan 12, 2013 at 05:09 AM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #6 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Thanks, Michael. Nice shot.

I hear ya, Guy. Sorry about overdoing it at the end of the week.

Matt: I appreciate your selecting and explaining your choice. Your perspective makes sense to me.



Jan 12, 2013 at 05:32 AM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #7 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


dwerther wrote:
Russ - I hope you get some interesting and thoughtful replies. Although with some here being concerned about clients, employers, or spouses finding their post with a Google search you may not get what you would in a private conversation.

Higher level sports have traditionally been for and about men (although that is changing from HS volleyball up to the Olympics) and men are attracted to pretty girls. Cheerleaders are a part of the sports scene from Pop Warner on up. I live in Dallas and we have arguably the most recognizable and famous cheer squad in this part of
...Show more

David: What a great response. You had me laughing by the end and I agree completely with your analysis. The only thing I would add is that it all seems to intensify the older I get, which makes sense within the context of the design you mention. Thanks for chiming in!



Jan 12, 2013 at 05:37 AM
jmcaverly
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p.1 #8 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Russ,

I think Brent Musburger's commentary on Miss Alabama during the national championship game earlier this week kind of summed it up in a nutshell. Sometimes pretty girls make us do crazy things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rPdjX4Kya7o

Jeff



Jan 12, 2013 at 06:40 AM
ggreene
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p.1 #9 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


What? No redheads! Shame on you.

Seriously, I don't think this is isolated to just cheerleaders/dancers. I find myself grabbing a few extra frames of photogenic athletes in general. It's just the nature of the visual medium we are in. As photographers we want to capture great images and great looking subjects certainly help get those results.

I shoot for a mid-level university and each year you quickly get a sense for who has got that special quality that you might focus on more then others. I tend to gravitate towards the cheerleaders that smile a lot and have a bubbly personality. That sort of fits the typical image that the public has for cheerleaders. For example, while #14 may be perfectly fine for family/friends it's probably not something that media relations would use. They probably would be far more interested in #2 or #8. Bright smiles, good pose, and most importantly a background showing good fan attendance.

Being a redhead doesn't hurt though.




Jan 12, 2013 at 07:34 AM
dwerther
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p.1 #10 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Russ Isabella wrote:
... it all seems to intensify the older I get...


I know. We are like a dog chasing a car. If we catch it - then what?



Jan 12, 2013 at 03:01 PM
 

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Russ Isabella
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p.1 #11 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Jeff: indeed! I'd heard about that but hadn't seen/heard it for myself. As you say, pretty good evidence right there.

Gregory: You make some good distinctions regarding which are likely to be the more media-friendly images. I also agree with you about there almost always being, if we are fortunate, one or two targets, be they athletes, cheerleaders, band members or whatever, who are likely to get more attention than the others. What's coming through in this thread, which shouldn't be a surprise to me, is that just who those one or two targets end up being might differ depending on the photographer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

David: So. True! You've nailed it again. Now get out of my head.



Jan 12, 2013 at 03:45 PM
BillP57
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p.1 #12 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


I agree with many here that they are a part of the sport and we include these images to give the feel of the game, just as with fan photos, jube photos or coaches photos. I also think #5 is a good example that most love to have their picture taken.

As for who we shoot, I have little doubt that personal attraction plays a big part and they have that bubbly personality, but looking at your photos I also see location as an important consideration. Each of these photos has the cheerleader front and center, with no distractions. They are not in the back row with someone else or something else partly obscuring them. They are probably closer to you than most of the others and therefore easier to isolate. So selection is also strongly influenced by their location on the field/court and within the squad.

Bill



Jan 12, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Scott Sewell
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p.1 #13 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Russ, this is the strangest post you've ever made here. (Ya know I'm kidding with you!!!)

Seriously, I think you answered your own questions in your original post. Yes, they are part of the atmosphere and agencies like the ones we shoot for want those kinds of images. When I shoot for the newspaper they could care less about cheer and dance images; they want action. But they've gotta be in a stock submission or one probably isn't doing their job. I know I have to work at making sure I have a handful of cheer/crowd images to submit for each game.

I think we'd all agree that there are those who are always front and center and are easier to shoot. Why are they front and center? Often it's because they are better performers or might be upperclassmen. And they often happen to be very attractive.

Great set of images you posted, too. Thanks for sharing!



Jan 12, 2013 at 05:53 PM
JusLookN
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p.1 #14 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


To Russ;

My opinion doesn't count for much here! But all I can ask of you is to not change a thing! I agree you have answered your own questions also!



Jan 12, 2013 at 07:38 PM
DukeK
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p.1 #15 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Funny you post this because I have found something similar, on a much smaller scale, in my limited photography experience. I have shot cross country photos for the past few years for my kids HS XC teams. There are always a ton more "keepers" of certain athletes vs others. I have always wondered if the parents are thinking to themselves "why are there only 2 pics of my kid and 20 of another"?

Truth is, the kids with more pics are (usually) the better athletes that are at the front of the pack and (more importantly) have a stable look of determination on their face the entire race. The kids with the least photos are just plain not photogenic when they run, they look like somebody just stole their dog or they're running barefoot on broken glass, etc.. I had one poor girl that I rarely posted keepers of because she tended to have her tongue hanging out when she ran, lol.

Oh, and...

Which do you like best? Why? And do you see a place for these kinds of images in a gallery from a sporting event?
Love the smile on 5 and 8 and yes.

Edited on Jan 13, 2013 at 03:12 AM · View previous versions



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:00 PM
buddy duck
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p.1 #16 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Russ,
One of your questions was "why do end up with a lot of images of 1-2 cheerleaders and few or none of the others?" That probably happens with most of us, I know it does with me. I think it's the cheerleaders themselves who determine the degree they are photographed as least as much as the photographer. Some of the cheerleaders just naturally "light up" when they see the camera--the smile immediately pops out, they make eye contact, they just enjoy being photographed. I think it's all about the personality and the mood of the subject at that moment as much or more than the choice of the photographer. That said I do try to compensate by taking more initiative to get shots of the ones who are not so outgoing, but am mindful that sometimes they just don't want a camera pointed their way..



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #17 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Thanks, Bill. Good point about location. In some cases that was a matter of circumstance; in others, I went out of my way to create the opportunity.

Scott: I knew I could count on you! Thanks for the confirmation.

JusLookN: Thanks.

DukeK: Thanks for your picks, and your perspective. I agree. There have been so many times when I've shot an event and it wasn't until going through all of the photos, culling, editing and then looking at the take that I realized, damn, this set of images is just dominated by one or two specific athletes. When I shoot major league soccer of NBA, we more or less know going in who the stars are, though even there, sometimes I'll find myself being drawn to a player I'd never heard of before. At lower levels where there's less known and much less hype, it just sort of happens organically.

Good points, Ed (buddy duck). That cheerleader in 5 and 8, who also is featured in 11, is a prime example. She's got a 6th sense for the camera. And now that I think about it, the same can be said for the Jazz Dancer who's in more than one of these posted images. Thanks for the insight.



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:19 PM
ggreene
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p.1 #18 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


buddy duck wrote:
Some of the cheerleaders just naturally "light up" when they see the camera--the smile immediately pops out, they make eye contact, they just enjoy being photographed. I think it's all about the personality and the mood of the subject at that moment as much or more than the choice of the photographer. That said I do try to compensate by taking more initiative to get shots of the ones who are not so outgoing, but am mindful that sometimes they just don't want a camera pointed their way..


This is so so very true. Beauty only goes so far. You've got to match it with an excitement and/or enthusiasm that projects outwards. I see this all the time in who gets chosen to be in the front row. Some incredibly beautiful young women are in the back row because they just don't smile much and look like they don't want to be there.




Jan 13, 2013 at 12:39 AM
John Korduner
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p.1 #19 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


I have no problem admitting I choose favorites the first game of the season...those with blue or hazel eyes tend to be the most marketable.


Jan 13, 2013 at 01:29 AM
BobnJake
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p.1 #20 · Cheer Photos: Why? Why Not? ...


Russ, I just think you are trying to capture the intensity in their eyes
And you always do such a good job and we thank you
Bob



Jan 13, 2013 at 01:12 PM
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