2017 was a huge year for my photography career. I found my passion again and I had the pleasure of shooting athletes at places I could have never imagined. I went from making a job for myself by shooting at a division three school in SUNY Cortland to being a photographer for the Fighting Irish athletic communications department at the University of Notre Dame. To say that is a step up would be an understatement. Do not get me wrong, Cortland is high level of division 3 athletics, but there are not many programs that are at the same level as Notre Dame and that is what makes it so special.
Notre Dame gave me the chance to shoot on their historic football field, as well as attend any sporting event throughout each week, ranging from volleyball to cross country. I even got the chance to shoot for other schools that would come to compete against the Fighting Irish. Then, on top of that, they even gave me a weekly post where I would choose my five favorite photos of the week and discuss why I chose those particular photos.
That five favorites post is similar to what I will be doing here, except these are going to be my top 17 photos from 2017 and I'll be doing one photo a day. Here is the first photo. Make sure to come back tomorrow to see the next photo added on, and for the next 15 days after that!
1. SportsCenter Top 10 Dunk
To start off, I'm going to come in strong with photos of an athlete that played for a school that competed against Notre Dame. The St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers might not have left with a win against the Fighting Irish, but one of their players definitely did take home the top play of the game. Freshman Josh Nicholas drove to the basket in second half and showed no remorse when he threw down a monster dunk. It got him a SportsCenter Top 10 play as well as these amazing photos to remember it forever. I love this because I caught him at the perfect moment as his arm was brought back at the start of the poster dunk. One second, or even an millisecond before or after and this photo definitely would not have been as amazing. Same goes for the photo of him slamming the ball in the hoop. If it was snapped at any other moment, it would not have had the same impact with the ball coming down and his hand still on the rim. Lastly, the focus is perfect so that Nicholas is perfectly clear, while the Notre Dame player is blurred just a bit and the background is completely blurred which gives the photo a great depth. There might be two photos, because this is a two for one special and it only counts as one, so come back tomorrow for the second photo!
2. Section Final Bound
The next photo starts the many celebration pictures that make this list. In the spring, the baseball team from my high school advanced to their Section championship game. The team has been lead by head coach Marcel Galligani for the past twenty years and this was the first time he had made it to the finals. Right away that gives a lot more understanding to why he is as excited and pumped up as he is in this photo. This celebration was captured after one of his seniors hit a huge double which brought in runs for the Tigers that extended their lead. Coach turned to the crowd behind him and let everything out. He knew what was happening and how big of a moment that was for his team. For the veteran coach who isn't known for showing emotions like this, this was big. Sure, he may show certain emotions when he is upset with an ump or player, but with celebratory moments he tends to acts like he's been there before and leads by example for his players. This time, he was not able to hold back because of the magnitude of the moment that was bout to occur. He is at the peak of his scream as veins on his neck pop out and he pumps his fists to make for a very emotional celebration. If I had been in any other spot or enjoying the game and not paying attention this photo would not have come to fruition and we would not have one of my best photos ever. Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for the third photo! More exciting celebration shots to enjoy!
3. SUNYAC Champions!
In my last spring season at SUNY Cortland, I spent a lot of time shooting the women’s lacrosse team. So much time in fact that I only missed three games out of all 16 regular season games and I did not miss one of their three post season games. That made for about 20 thousand photos and with only five losses throughout the season, there were a lot of celebration photos. However, none of those moments or photos were better than this one right after the girls took home the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship trophy for the 19h year in a row. Even though the Red Dragons have won it so many times, this one meant a lot more than all the rest for this group of girls, especially the seniors. Cortland women’s lacrosse is a very dominant team and throughout the years not many teams could really keep up with them, especially the SUNYAC teams. That means the games were not close and the championship was relatively easy for them to win. The 2017 season was much different and the girls had to battle a lot more to pull out wins. Also, for the first time in many years, the Red Dragons did not host the SUNYAC tournament and had to win it on their opponents home field, who they lost to only a week earlier. That’s why this shot of one of the senior captains holding the trophy next to her teammates means more than just meets the eye. There is a sense of relief in the screams from the girls and that is why it is on this list! Come back tomorrow for the fourth photo, I don't think you will be disappointed.
4. Dumas Ties The Game!
Celebration photos will take up the majority of this post and it’s well deserved. I think that celebration photos really show the athlete in their true form. It is when they can let it all out. Every practice that was good or bad, every workout and recovery the athletes went through comes out in the celebration. The preparation leads them up to being in big moments, such as Felician Dumas scoring the game tying goal late against Northwestern. Dumas is showing every emotion that a moment like that brings. The huge scream, clenched fists in the air and relief seen on his face says it all. Even though it’s a photo, it's obvious Dumas is sprinting out of the box to celebrate the goal with his teammates. This shot was used in my five favorites photos of the week as well as the five favorites of 2017 because that is how much I love this moment. It has everything a good celebration photo should have and there are more that are similar coming up in the post, but won't be up to par with them. See which photos will try to compete with this one tomorrow!
5. O'Connor Assists Jacobs
Notre Dame women’s soccer scored a lot of goals in the 2017 which meant there were a lot of moments to be celebrated. This particular goal was in a win versus Syracuse. Freshman Kate O’Connor tallied her first of assist of her career on a Jacobs goal. Even though Jacobs is the one that scored the goal, you can tell that she is more excited for O'Connor tallying her first point of her young collegiate career. Kate was a huge part of the success that the Fighting Irish women's soccer team had this year and this moment meant a lot to her, as well as her teammates. A celebration photo like this just shows how much sports are a team sport and a teammates success is the team's success. Jacobs hair flying up while she the biggest smile on her face, as she jumps into the embrace of O'Connor just tops off an amazing moment between the teammates. The bond between teammates is shown here, and honestly there is nothing better. Make sure to keep checking back for the next photo! 12 more to go!
6. DeJarld Celebrates!
In volleyball, there are a lot of moments for the athletes to celebrate because every point means so much and there are a lot of points scored every set as well as the overall match. After shooting a team for a whole season, I really get to know how each athlete celebrates. The libero for the Fighting Irish, Ryann DeJarld, tends to jump in the air while she joins her teammates from the back row, and pump both fists in the air. The jumping makes her hair fly and adds to the excitement that is already felt with her huge scream. This particular celebration from the match vs Miami was caught at the peak moment as it is noticeable she is letting her scream out at this exact moment. The photo gets even better when you look behind Ryann, you'll see her teammates celebrating from the sideline. This is just one of many great celebration photos from the 2017 season for volleyball, check back tomorrow to see the next celebration shot that made the cut from this volleyball team.
7. Irish Block!
Sam Fry and Rebecca Nunge were first and third, respectively, in blocking on the team. Blocks tend to be one of the most celebrated points in volleyball. That is probably because it is such a skill that requires such good timing and placement with arm angles. When it is done well, the ball goes straight down and the other team is unable to retrieve it. The ball is hit so hard at this level that when a ball is blocked it falls on the other side of the net just as hard and it is an intense feeling and moment during the game. That is why this celebration is as exciting as it is and once again. Nunge and Fry just made a block and could not hold back in their celebration as they both scream as big as they could before joining their teammates. The hair flying makes the photo even better, since the girls just landed from their block and have not stopped moving as they started celebrating. I've said it before and I'll say it again, volleyball celebrations are some of the best in sports because it's all emotion. Check back later for another volleyball celebration!
8. Irish Sweep Michigan State
Notre Dame volleyball played two Big Ten teams in Michigan State and Ohio State this past season. The Fighting Irish came away with two wins, both in three straight sets and with wins like that come the best celebration photos of the year. Especially from the sweep over Michigan State, which was a team that eventually made it to the semifinals of the NCAA volleyball tournament. This particular celebration was after the set-match point that secured the win. DeJarld is at the height of her jump as she joins all her teammates who are letting out all their emotions with their hands in the air realizing the win they had just pulled off. After an entire season, this photo is still the one I always go back to as my favorite. I think it has to do with both the photo its self and the moment behind it. The fact DeJarld wears a different color jersey, since she is the libero, she stands out even more. That makes the photo that much more memorable. Check back later for the next photo, the celebration continues!
9. Stone Celebrates Big
Carly Stone was one of the most energetic celebrators on the Cortland women’s lacrosse team. Whether it was her or a teammate scoring she was right in there screaming with excitement. Then, if it was her scoring a big time goal in an important game, she could not be contained, as shown in this photo. This particular moment was during the conference championship game. It was after Stone’s fourth goal of the game, which extended the Red Dragon’s lead to 5 with two minutes left. The way she is off the ground, fist clenched about to celebrate with teammate Makenzie Annable, you can tell she knows that her goal was a big one and the championship was that close to being theirs. She did not hold back in celebrating with her teammates which is why it was an easy choice as one of my favorites.
10. Gross Slides Into Celebration
Compared to some of the other sports that I highlighted so far, hockey does not score as much, which makes their celebrations even more exciting. This particular one was in the third period of a very rare Notre Dame hockey loss. Jordan Gross may not have come away with the win but he did come away with one of the best hockey celebration photos of the year. Placement was key in this and honestly luck with placement is a huge key to success in photography. I got lucky because Gross scored and celebrated towards his teammate which also happened to be right in my direction. It is a typical hockey celebration, however, it’s the angle that I got it that makes it better than others. The Notre Dame written on the jersey is seen perfectly as he slides on the ice towards his teammate. He is right in the middle of his celebration and his teammate, Evans, who can be seen in the foreground is celebrating the goal. Love how this shows that a team sport can be individual at times but at the end of the day it's always about the team. One player, Gross, is celebrating his goal that he just got for his team and is about to celebrate with his teammates. Stay tuned for more hockey photos!
11. Dello Scores!
Capturing a hockey goal is not an easy feat. There is usually an obstruction on either the goalie, net, puck or the shooter in some way or another. That is why this was such an easy choice as one of the best photos from 2017. Tory Dello scored this goal against the Minnesota Gophers and I could not have been in the better spot to capture the moment. I also had the perfect lens to get the whole shot that includes Tory shooting, the puck, goalie and the main photo is an average hockey shot of only a player shooting the puck. I love this photo because you get to see Tory finishing his shot as the puck is clearly going into the net, above the glove of the goalie, who was late getting around to make the save. Seeing Dello and the number 6 clear as day on the back of the jersey because of the angle I shot this from makes the photo all that much better. It's not a celebration photo, but it's the moment right before the celebration is about to begin.
12. Annable Air-born!
Makenzie Annable was one of the breakout stars for the Cortland women’s lacrosse team in her season campaign. She ended the season fourth on the team with 33 goals, which was twice as much as the previous year. Annable took advantage of the seniors who graduated before her and made herself a key player that could take games over if she wanted. This particular goal was captured during her senior game where Annable scored a career-tying record four goals in what would be her last game at her home stadium. This was her fourth goal of the game and it was just an exclamation point on the whole day for the Red Dragon’s and their senior class who went on to win that game 16-6. The way she is caught at the height of her jump while the ball is clearly going past the goalie and one defender gets out of the way while has beat the other defender is perfect. Goals are not easy moments to capture and luck is the name of the game for photography, so I believe that this photo would've been harder to capture if I had been on ground level or at another angle. My placement gave the photo a perfect angle so we can see the whole moment which includes the ball and goalie, not just Makenzie jumping. Check back later for more photos! Only five more left!
13. Adams Flies Up Field
Josh Adams was once a Heisman candidate for his incredible rushing numbers and touchdown runs. To have the honor to shoot a Heisman candidate every home football game was something I’ll always remember and cherish forever. There were so many photos of him that I could have chosen for this post. I ended up with this one because I think this shows what 33 trucking, which was our departments campaign for Adams’ Heisman candidacy, is all about. It’s not solely about Adams, but the whole offensive line who makes it possible for Adams to rush the way he does. Josh is coming through an open hole in the middle and we see his offensive line making it happen by blocking the defenders. The best part is the way Josh is caught mid air at the point he is jumping away from a defender so he make his run up the field. Everything that has to be done just right to make Josh be able to make his run up the field is captured in this one moment.
14. Sandra Screams Emotion
This photo is a bit different than the rest but I would have been disappointed in myself if I did not include it as one of my favorites from the past year. Graduate student Sandra Yu was a star for the Notre Dame women’s soccer team. She scored eight goals, assisted on five others and because how much of a threat she was when she had the ball on her feat, she could draw defenders to her so that teammates could be open for a scoring chance. She has many action shots that I love so much but this was the one chosen because of the emotion. The screaming caught in this photo is what I love the most and it is something I love about sport. Whether she is yelling towards a ref, or a teammate it shows she cares so much and can not hold back expressing how she feels in this moment. Something did not go the way it should have and she is letting it all out. The grass flying up make it all that much more intense as she grabbled some while she put her hands up to point, intentionally or not. Lastly, the veins in her neck while she at the peak of her scream make it that much better. Overall this photo just screams passion for the game and getting things done and that is why it was chosen as one of my top 17 photos from 2017.