Thursday, July 24, 2008

Assignment

Roots Assignment
Roots began on Sunday night with a presentation by Greg Gibson. And, most appropriately, he opened with a quote from an amazing photojournalist, James Nachtwey - and it goes a little something like this:


"I have been a witness, and these images are my testimony."

Photojournalists are extremely misunderstood in society. Of course, this is my opinion. I believe that when people hear the word photojournalism, they have visions of the papparazzi taking photos of people in compromising situations and selling them for a hefty profit. Photojournalism is really just about being a witness for the public. Photographing what happens good OR bad - or maybe neither ... maybe just documenting for the sake of documenting. This was really what we learned how to do at Roots - to tell a story with photographs in the most unbiased way we can.
At Roots we were each given an assignment which we were to approach as if we were shooting for a newspaper. Sunday night we had time to talk with our group and team leader. We started by telling everyone a little about ourselves and what we thought our strengths and weaknesses were. After the discussion the team leaders and mentors went upstairs to chat and to divvy up the assignments. I remember specifically telling my roommate that the worst thing they could give me would be sports. I'll be honest with you, I don't know much about sports. So, the thought was just scary. I figured I was safe because I was probably going to end up doing something on a boat or photographing a family or something. I could handle that. No problem.
When I got my assignment, they were handed out in a group meeting. I was second to last. Here is what I heard "And, Neysa, we've got a good one for you. You will be photographing a young baseball star with Cape Cod Baseball League. He's a pitcher and he is their hopeful for MLB." EVERYONE in the room was oohing and ahhing over my assignment. "Wow! You are SO lucky! What a GREAT assignment!!"
I was terrified. OMG! What was I going to do? How could they have pegged me that well??? Did they hear me tell my roommate that sports was my worst fear? They couldn't have. They were all upstairs!
Oh boy. I'm in trouble. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much that first night. My brain was all over the place trying to think of how I would do the action shots for the assignment. The entire assignment, thank goodness wasn't about action. I was to tell the story of Ryan Sharpely and his time in Cape Cod with the league. This included the Kids Kamp workshop that he helped run in the mornings and the time he spent with his host family.
The first morning I met up with Ryan at his host family's house. He didn't have kid's kamp that morning, so I stayed with him at the house and got to see what a wonderful relationship he had developed with the host family he was staying with. Here are a couple of photos of him at the house ...
The next day I was up early and met Ryan at the ball field for the Kid's Kamp ...
Ryan is a relief pitcher for the Hyannis Mets and I learned the hard way that relief pitchers don't pitch every game. So, I attended the first two night games hoping to get some great action shots of Ryan pitching - but to no avail. So, in light of this, my team leader and the mentors started getting nervous that I wasn't going to be able to complete my story on Ryan. They weren't comfortable hanging my assignment by the thread of hope that he would, in fact pitch, the third and final night. SO ... I became the 'problem child' of the group. I had been out shooting both days from 7:30 am to 11:30 pm every day and I still didn't have a complete story because my pitcher hadn't pitched yet! It was decided that I might need a 'backup plan' - you know ... just in case. So, they sent me out the final day with a new ball player. In short, I was to start my whole story over with a new guy. Then attend the game the final night and get shots of BOTH players if the coach decided to put Ryan in. More on the other ball player in a moment.
The coach came up to me on the last night and said 'We're putting Ryan in tonight just for you. You can't do a story about a pitcher who hasn't pitched, right?' I thought ... well, YEAH. Why didn't you do that earlier??? I could have slept some on this trip. Ha! So, I ended up getting some shots of Ryan pitching ... here are a few ...
Ok ... now onto my second assignment ...
My second assignment was Casey Frawley, the short stop for the Hyannis Mets. I was not going to have any trouble getting action shots of him. He played every day. BUT, in order to fully cover him, I had to tell the rest of this story as well. So, again, I got up early and headed over to his host family's house to photograph him there.
the guys wanted to try out my camera ...
Then we headed over to a place in town that makes the wooden bats that they use ...
And then we headed to the ball field for the last game ....
When I got this next shot, I had Tyler right by my side. He and I started looking at the photos after I stopped shooting and we squealed like school girls! And I am not exaggerating even a little. We were so excited. For me, who was terrified of shooting sports and then to get a great image like this, we were ecstatic :)
I had such a great time telling both stories. I couldn't have been given a better assignment. It challenged me more than I could have ever imagined and I got to meet some amazing people along the way. I am putting a slideshow at the bottom of this post with more images. The images that I have shown here are not necessarily the images that were in my final presentation (some are and some are not), but I wanted to show them.
The workshop was worth every hour of sleep that I lost. (I think I got a grand total of 12 hrs over 5 days)
I can't wait for next year!!!

8 comments:

Aneesa said...

Awesome photos! I loved reading their stories!

neysaruhl said...

Aneesa, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post.
I don't know that I gave the stories justice with my words, but I am hoping I did with the photos. I really tried to capture who they were and their life with the summer league.
They were truly amazing to work with. I learned SO much. I cannot say enough about it.

Barb Trimble said...

I love how you got to be there for everything. You can tell you became a part of the day but did not intrude on what normally happens. Great shots at the game. I think you did they justice with the images.

the ruffhouse said...

Fantastic! I can't stop looking at the one with the two little boys - the little on in red looks giddy! And wow - what great action shots! I'd be equally uncomfortable, but you rose to the challenge in true Neysa fashion! I know their families will cherish what you did as well, since they likely aren't there to see them for the summer.

emilie inc. said...

Congrats, Neysa! You rocked this assignment! So great to see you again! Thanks so much for traveling to the Cape and giving 100% of yourself to this assignment! Hugs!

David Murray Weddings said...

Neysa,

Some really fine images here. Any photojournalist would be proud of them. Congratulations!


David Murray

Mellissa DeMille said...

Neysa, these are wonderful. You really did rock this story and it was great to meet you (what little I did see of you).

neysaruhl said...

Wow! Thank you everybody!

David ... it is so great to hear from you! We missed you at this workshop .. maybe next year?

Melissa - I felt exactly the same about you ... you really did a fantastic job on your assignment!