In the beginning
One of the questions I'm most frequently asked is how I started photographing figure skating, so I wanted to share the story in my first blog post.
I've always enjoyed photography and felt the essence of which is to capture special life moments. Even after I started ice-dance.com in 1999, I stayed on the side of candid, non-action photography and instead focused on taking pictures of skaters when they were off the ice. At the time, I was more dedicated to writing about the teams, events, etc.
The first time I tried taking on-ice photos was the 2005 World Junior Championships in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., Canada. This was my first figure skating competition as a credentialed journalist and my primary objective was to recap the event for IDC by posting a daily blog. (I'm still grateful that Tatjana allowed me to use her laptop.) I wanted to include a few pictures with my articles, so armed with my trusty Olympus point-and-shoot camera, I attempted to take photos of practices and the competition. A point-and-shoot camera isn't meant for high-speed figure skating action, but I was able to get a few photos to work. Most of them were grainy or fuzzy. I also admit that I also had not started using Adobe Photoshop. On two other occasions, I tried my hand at on-ice photography with similar results. At the second event, my Olympus died a slow death. I really loved that camera and it was a great usher into the world of digital photography.
I would consider that I became smitten with action photography at Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships. Our photographer at this event, who is one of my closest friends, suffered a car accident just weeks prior and was unable to shoot the compulsory dances due to the circular nature of the patterns. Just five minutes prior to the first junior team, she said to me, "If you don't shoot this, we won't have any photos." I was terrified.
She gave me her Canon 20D with a 70-200mm lens along with a monopod. My hands were shaking, but I tried to focus on taking photos, even if they were just opening and closing poses, since I wanted to make sure that we were able to post photos on IDC. She sat beside me and I started shooting - and I loved it!
After the first team skated, she told me that it wasn't necessary to take 300 photos of one team skating the Silver Samba. After a few teams, I got into a groove and relaxed. At the time, I had no idea if any of the photos that I was taking were even usable. The event transitioned into the Starlight Waltz, the second dance, which was a much bigger challenge, but I kept going. It turns out, that I do have an eye for photography and some of the pictures were usable. The couple featured in the photo above is Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell and one of the first photos that I took with a DSLR.
To this day, the Silver Samba will always have a special place in my heart. I can honestly say that since that day, I have never really enjoyed writing. I was bitten by the photography bug and realized that though words tell a story, so do pictures and I am much more interested in capturing moments from behind the lens.
This story is just one of many I hope to share on this blog.