All photos courtesy of Standard Sports Photos
It is the dream of every America kid to be a major league baseball player. And it’s the dream of many a photographer to be a professional baseball photographer.
Photographer Michael Ivans is living that dream. He’s the official photographer of the Boston Red Sox.
Michael Ivans studied photojournalism at Boston University’s College of Communications. As a student, he received an internship with Boston Magazine and had some of his pictures published in an issue featuring the “Best of Boston”. After graduating from B.U. he did work for the old Boston Herald newspaper and Reuters agency. During this time, he put together a portfolio of professional sports photographs. In 2008, he was hired by the Boston Red Sox as their official photographer.
Michael Ivans says that timing is everything in sports photography. In the video, Ivans says that the two things his photographs bring are perspective and emotion. Still photographs that freeze the action of a spectacular play in a split second are always more compelling than video of the same play.
As a photographer, you have the capability of freezing action and offering the viewer a perspective that they’re not able to get with their own eyes.
Knowledge of the Game and Quick Reflexes
The old cameraman here has done some baseball photography himself, although only at the amateur level. To get good shots, you have to understand the game and anticipate where the next play is likely to be. Then aim and focus your camera at that spot. For instance, if there’s a runner on first with speed who’s known for stealing, get ready for a stolen base at second; or a pickoff attempt at first. If there’s a man on second, position yourself to get a play at third base or home plate. A sacrifice fly will mean a runner on third be tagging up and heading for home, and there’s likely to be a close play at the plate.
You also need good reflexes to make the exposure at the peak of the action. Like this action shot of this force out at third which captures the peak of the action. OK, I don’t get too many shots like this. That’s why Michael Ivans is a pro baseball shooter and I’m not!
Like Cameraman, Michael Ivans is a Nikon shooter. His main camera body is a Nikon D3S ($5,200) which is a 12MP FX, or full-frame, body. His goto lenses are the Nikon 400mm/f2.8 telephoto ($7,800) and the Nikkor 14mm/f2.8 ultra-wide ($1,450). That’s about $19,650 of gear for just two bodies and the two lenses. Pro sports shooters have two or three bodies so they don’t have to swap lenses Most likely he also has a backup camera body or two in case something fails. Many pro sports shooters use the longer Nikon 600mm/f4 ($9,800).
Read the article Boston Red Sox, Behind the Lens in Bostonia magazine