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2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal – Cotton Bowl


This past week, I rang in the new year in a fashion in which I had not done before. As the ball dropped, I was hanging 50 feet over a football field. Typically I like to spend my NYE at home with the family. This year, duty called and I was in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl.

Today I am packing my gear and getting ready to head out to Arizona for the College Football Playoff National Championship game between #1 Clemson and #2 Alabama. In looking forward and preparing for the game, I wanted to also share with you a handful of my favorite photos I took last week on assignment for ESPN in covering the Cotton Bowl between #2 Alabama and #3 Michigan State.

It was as dominating of a defensive performance as I have seen in some time as the Crimson Tide shut out the Spartans. I was beginning to wonder if I was a good luck charm for Sparty (I covered their season-opening win over Western Michigan which was closer than the score showed and their crazy win over rival Michigan), however Alabama proved to be far too dominant for the depleted Michigan State team.

The game was especially fun for me as it was my first time working in AT&T Stadium, AKA Jerry World. The building truly is a spectacle and it was a great pleasure to get to work there and around all the incredibly wonderful Cotton Bowl staff.

For those of you that follow me on Periscope, you got to come along when I set up the camera inside the bottom of the giant 600 ton and 70 ft tall video board that hangs large above the field and also while I installed cameras in the catwalk. I hope that you will all join me again in Arizona this coming weekend!

Until then, I hope you enjoy the photos from this past weekend and are excited about the championship game where I will be teaming up with my good friend and fellow Nikon Ambassador Bill Frakes (who ESPN had covering the Orange Bowl) to provide you with our view of the game.

Blog, Uncategorized

The new Nikon D5 is here!!!

True is the statement that the camera does not make the photographer. What the camera does make (at least for me)…is more creative. The features and technology that Nikon is putting into the cameras with each release further raises the bar and affords me the ability to push myself and my creativity to the maximum. The advance of technology and Nikon’s commitment to listening to photographers and anticipating our storytelling needs is unrivaled. For, me that makes working with Nikon gear the best and easiest of decisions. This has been the case ever since I switched over in 2010 and began using the D3 and D3s bodies.

With the announcement of the flagship D5 today at CES in Las Vegas, Nikon set the bar higher yet again.

An expanded ISO range of THREE MILLION. I can’t begin to wrap my head around this one. I do a ton of low light shooting so this will impact me greatly. 20MP, 14FPS, 4K video. All features that will contribute this camera to being an absolute workhorse for me. What features am I most excited about (aside from the ISO capabilities)?! The new AF system and a little feature that allows for adjustments in multiple exposure photography. There really is way too many things for me to elaborate on in this post so we will save that for another time.

 

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BUT WAIT THERES MORE!!!

How about the doozy of an announcement that nobody saw coming. The D500. Essentially the D5 packed into a DX body – essentially creating the first pro DX body. This will allow photographers to make pictures like never before. The integration of the camera into your phone will be a game changer on many levels whether you are a pro, a hobbyist, or a parent who just likes to photograph their kids. The sharing will be faster than anything that you can imagine.

There are also two other exciting products. The new SB-5000 flash which brings Nikon into radio triggered flashes for the first time and the new Nikon KeyMission 360 – a 4K 360 degree wearable action camera. Both of these products I can not wait to get my hands on.

The game is changing my friends. New tools are here at our disposal. Come March, lets get to work and see what you can create!!!

If you are looking to purchase, do yourself a favor and get in touch with the folks at Roberts Camera…when it comes to taking care of pros and amateurs alike, you wont find better service anywhere. They are absolutely my go to store for what I need. They have a wait list for all the new products so get in touch with them today.

Do yourself a favor and check out these new products. For those of you who know me well, know how much of a role music plays with me and how I work. If I were to suggest an album to listen to while you check out these new tools, I would suggest “What a time to be alive” by Drake/Future. If hip hop isnt your scene, let me know and I will dig something else up for you!

Blog

A Decade at the Kentucky Derby

Covering the Kentucky Derby is no easy task. There are countless photographers working to get the position they need to make their picture. Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning from fellow Nikon Ambassador Bill Frakes. Since this is the 10th anniversary of the first time we worked together, we decided to do a joint blog post about covering the Derby, collaboration and life.

Andrew Hancock’s Kentucky Derby Slideshow

 

 

The Interview at the Kentucky Derby

Bill: I was covering a Colt’s game in Indy in 2004 — that was 5 million miles and at least 5 million images ago — and this tall, gangly nervous kid with a subtle Texas accent came up to me on the sideline and introduced himself. He said he really wanted to learn more, he was willing to work very hard at it, and he knew making images needed to be a huge part of his life. Something in his calm manner and determined look resonated with me, so I said okay, let’s stay in touch, and I’ll see if I can help point you in the right direction.

Ten years ago to the day, I brought him to Louisville to work with my team at the Kentucky Derby. Except for not knowing there is a time change between Indy and Louisville and showing up very flustered and a little late, he did a great job that weekend. Working in the first turn, he fired the remote camera that produced a Leading Off in Sports Illustrated. He paid attention, worked very hard, and was unfailingly polite. He earned another chance.

 

Bill Frakes Kentucky Derby Slideshow

 

Andy: Ten years ago, I was fresh out of college and working at a small six-day-a-week newspaper in rural northeast Indiana. I was eager to learn, grow and work. A little over a year into that first job, I was most fortunate when covering a Colts game in Indianapolis during the 2004 season that I would cross paths with one of the very few photographers who I have admired since the beginning, Bill Frakes. Cautious to approach as he was holding court with a handful of photographers around him, he made the time for an introduction and a few brief conversations during the game. I knew that in order for me to start taking strides in my career, I needed to work with and learn from the best and take myself out of my comfort zone. By the end of the game, that opportunity came when I offered my services to assist and learn. Bill suggested I stay in touch, and he would see if I could join his Derby crew. That first trip to Churchill Downs would come that following spring as I was welcomed to Bill’s Sports Illustrated crew to help in his coverage of the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby.

141st Running of the Kentucky DerbyThat first year was an eye opening experience for me and put me on a path with much greater aspirations and goals. It challenged me in every way I could imagine. It changed my vision and my trajectory and was a watershed moment in my career. During the past ten years, I’ve continued to work with Bill on various projects and assignments… but one place I kept coming back to each year was Churchill. Over the course of eight Derbies, I sought the chance not only to make some pictures for myself, but more importantly, the chance to learn from one of the greats.

Bill: We’ve been some places since then. Except for his honeymoon with his lovely wife Maria, his first trips out of the country were spent working with me. He never fails to be there when I need him, he’s been a great friend and terrific colleague through it all.

Andy has turned into one of the world’s best photographers. He has an abundance of natural talent and intellect, but I’m pretty happy to be able to say that he earns everything he gets. The man works his tail off with a fierce determination to make the most of any situation.

I often hear folks — art directors, picture editors, agents — say that you need to do personal pictures. Seriously? EVERY picture I make is personal. They all matter, each and every time. Andy gets that too, and it’s a huge reason why he is really good at this.

Andy: Even after I began working as a contributing photographer for Sports Illustrated eight years ago, I kept coming back to assist Bill at the Derby. It is no easy task running a crew of assistants and managing the tremendous operation of a large remote camera setup with cameras positioned all over the track. Each year was new and exciting and every year I would learn something from Bill. The technical knowledge I received was substantial. Equally important was his advice and the insight on the industry — how it was changing, how to prepare and how to succeed. He began to take me under his wing to teach me… and to push me.

Coming back to Churchill each year was much more than coming to assist. I kept coming to work with and help out a mentor, a colleague, a friend. With eyes and ears open, working with Bill made me a better photographer. He refused to let me settle or make a routine picture. He forced me to stay out of my comfort zone and to think ahead and faster than everyone else.

Bill: It’s been huge fun watching him grow. The cross pollination between us reminds me of the way Heinz Kluetmeier — maybe the best there ever was — helped me. Kluet taught me to think, to work, and to turn it up when things get tough. Andy’s got that intensity now too. Outside of our mutual friend Laura Heald, I can’t think of anyone I trust more to always get it done.

One of our mutual bonds, and something we share with Kluet, is love for our daughters. We all have a lot going on professionally, but no conversation starts without stories about the girls. It’s a joy, and pretty sure it helps keep us not only grounded, but moving ahead strongly.

I love looking at his new work, that big silly grin that he gets every time he shows me a new image or wants to bounce an idea for a project off me is one of the things that makes my job/life the best I can possibly imagine.

Andy: After my second Derby, Bill and I were talking as we walked beneath the historic twin spires atop the Churchill Downs grandstand when he gave me a piece of advice that I carry with me on every assignment. We were discussing our editors and image selection. Photographers won’t always agree with editors when it comes to image selection and as we were talking about that, Bill told me a simple and powerful statement. He said that regardless of what an editor picks or doesn’t pick, our job is to create something special, and we will do that.

His advice however also went beyond the technical. A few years ago, my wife Maria and I were talking about the possibility of growing our family. I wanted to hear from friends and colleagues first hand on the challenges that I would face. I was starting to travel a lot and knew that part of my job would increase substantially, which it has. Bill’s love and admiration for his daughter is inspiring. As we were in the work room preparing equipment in 2011, I asked him if it was worth it… balancing fatherhood and work. He quickly stopped what he was doing, turned around and grinned ear to ear. “Absolutely,” he said, ‘Without a doubt.” The only Derby I missed in the last 10 years was 2012… because my wife was pregnant with our first daughter.

Over the years, our conversations became less of the technical variety and more of the personal and philosophical variety as we discussed the changing landscape of our industry. Now, we look at ways to collaborate. We have similar, but visually distinct and different visions and approaches. After the 2014 Derby, Bill and I stayed an extra day to shoot California Chrome at the stables and follow that up with proper coffee and breakfast while we discussed the road we each were on and how to make that road intersect even more often.

Even though Bill and I were on different teams this year, our goals were still the same… to make a special picture not only for our client, but for ourselves. I would be taking all the notes I have made over the past decade in working with Bill and putting them to practice for myself and the New York Times.

141st Running of the Kentucky Derby

141st Running of the Kentucky Derby – Photograph by Bill Frakes

My editor for the assignment, Jeff Furticella, is one editor that I have more respect for than most. He has been in the trenches as a photographer and also worked as an SI assistant for Bill at the Derby in 2006. He has great vision in what he looks for in a photograph and how to select the best photo to tell the story. He and I were also teammates at the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2006. Our team leader? Bill Frakes. Our team editor? The fabulous James Colton.

Looking back at this past Derby, I know that the best photos I made are the photos Jeff selected for the paper and for the online gallery. I can look back and know I was able to follow Bill’s advice and know that I succeeded in creating something special both for the NYT and for myself. This year will go down as a year just as memorable as my first one ten years ago. My favorite image this year was from a new position that had never before been attempted in 141 years as I mounted a camera to a light pole near the finish line.

While it was my favorite, it was not selected for print. For that, Jeff would select an image made from the outside of turn one as American Pharoah would start to move outside to keep pace with the leaders.

Ten years ago during that first Derby with Bill, I was triggering a set of remote cameras on the outside of turn one. The frame that would tell the story that year of 50-1 long shot Giacomo winning the race would come from those cameras. A wide shot showing Giacomo making his first move around the outside of turn one with the iconic spires in the background. It ran as a Leading Off. It was the most exciting thing I had ever been a part of in my career at that point. This year was as equally as exciting.

That first year I was working for Bill and this year, I was working alongside him. Both I feel are defining moments in my career.

Bill: This past weekend, we were crawling around in the catwalks and on the roof of venerable Churchill Downs figuring out together the best way to do something different. Most everybody else had left a long time before, and we were standing high over the Downs talking about the best ways to cover the race on Saturday and about future projects.

One of the things I do is think ahead. Last year, Andy pointed out an angle he thought we should try this year — at the time we didn’t know we would be working for different organizations. When we talked a few weeks before this year’s race Andy mentioned that he was going to put a camera on the light stand, and that he was going to work on getting permission. I casually told him I’d already been in touch with the track and we were good to go – I already had it cleared.

We couldn’t have done this the same way without help from Darren Rogers and Keith Kleine at Churchill.

Our friends at Nikon helped out hugely as well.

Andy used 18 Nikon cameras and lenses. I used 28 of each. I’ve been to the Derby 31 times.

Every single year someone from Nikon Professional Services has done something to help me.

This year, I was on my way to the barns on Sunday and stopped for coffee.

The NYT sports section was open on a table.

Andrew Hancock - Commercial and Advertising photographer - Kentucky Derby 2015

It made me smile.

Andrew Hancock - Commercial and Advertising photographer - Nikon Ambassador
Blog

A conclave of talent and three days I wont forget

In 2013, a dream of assembling a small group of elite Nikon shooters began to take shape. The idea was spearheaded by Mike Corrado with the tremendous backing of the incredibly talented Nikon Professional Services staff, of Nikon USA chief Toru Iwaoka and everyone at the mothership in Melville, NY. With that, the Nikon Ambassador program was born.

I still have trouble convincing myself that this isn’t all some sort of silly dream. I was fortunate enough to get a call and an invitation to join the program at its inception. Among those original 16 photographers were icons who I looked up to since I was a kid when I would often find myself at my grandparents house spending hours looking through Sports Illustrated, TIME and National Geographic. In doing so at that early age I became familiar with the power of storytelling through photography thanks to the work of Joe McNally, Bill Frakes and Dave Black. As I grew older, I was also moved by the work of Ami Vitale and Corey Rich. As I began to pursue portrait photography, I found myself floored by the work of Sandro. In the program’s second year, the roster grew to include three more stellar shooters.

Andrew Hancock - Commercial and Advertising photographer - Nikon AmbassadorEarlier this year, Mike Corrado began to put things in motion to bring all (or as many as possible) of the Ambassadors together for a summit in New York. It truly was a conclave of incredible talent and a vast undertaking for Nikon to pull off in order to bring us together. We came from all over the country and the world to New York for true photo fellowship. I couldn’t believe I was in the same room with everyone and hear stories be told by Sandro, Joe McNally, Bill Frakes, Dave Black, Ami Vitale, Ron Magill, Corey Rich, Lucas Gilman, Robin Layton, Blair Bunting, Dixie Dixon, Cliff Mautner, Tamara Lackey, Jerry Ghionis, Moose Peterson and Bambi Cantrell. While very disappointed that James Balog and Vincent Versace couldn’t join us this time around, I sure hope that the full roster will be able to assemble for the next summit…it cant get here soon enough!

Before this inaugural summit of Ambassadors, many of us had never met face to face. We come from different photographic disciplines and specialties and are spread across the country. However, we are all familiar with each others names and work. The mutual respect and admiration was already established. However, everything truly began to go from extraordinary to truly special as new friendships began to be formed with one another almost immediately. Stories were shared, photos were shown, ideas were exchanged, thoughts were challenged, camaraderie was fostered and bread was broken. To say a great time was had by all was an understatement.

One evening, we each had five minutes (give or take 20) to show some of our work and talk about who we are to a crowd of several hundred Nikon employees. The last time I was that nervous, felt that humble and unworthy was when I was a student at the Eddie Adams Workshop. As intimidating as EAW was, this summit was equally as daunting for me. It was also wildly inspiring, just as EAW was for me as a student in 2006.

When my time came to take the stage and present, fortunately, just as when my wife gave birth to our daughter, I didn’t pass out or throw up like I was certain that I would!

We are beyond blessed to get to do what we each do for a living. To share what we know and our vision with people all around the world is incredible. However, I know I speak on behalf of all my fellow ambassadors in saying that we are able to do all that we do thanks in large part to all the tremendous support we receive from NPS led by the fearless Mark Suban. Along with Mark and the aforementioned Mike Corrado we are supported by Melissa DiBartolo, Scott Diussa, Mark Kettenhofen, Andy Dunaway, JC Carey, Chad McNeeley, Brien Aho, Ron Taniwaki, Sara Wood, Carissa Mitchell, Angie Salazar, Kris Bosworth, Lindsay Silverman, Stephen Heiner and so many more at NPS and Nikon. I cant thank everyone enough for all that you do to not only support me and my fellow Ambassadors but everyone who picks up a Nikon camera and looks to share their vision and tell their story!

I tried to sleep on my flight home yesterday from LaGuardia to Chicago but I couldn’t. I tried to get a good nights sleep in my own bed last night but I couldn’t. I was awake at 4 a.m. and restless as I was still trying to process all that transpired in New York. Today I am setting goals bigger than I already had previously and eager for opportunities to collaborate with fellow Ambassadors not only on work projects but also in opportunities to make impacts on anyone who picks up a camera to tell their story and record their history.

If you are not familiar with the Nikon Ambassador program, please do yourself a favor and go check it out!!!!

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Learn-And-Explore/Nikon-Ambassadors/index.page

Andrew Hancock - Commercial and Advertising photographer - Nikon AmbassadorTo my fellow Ambassadors, thanks for inspiring myself and millions upon millions of others. Keep kicking ass, sharing your vision, telling stories that need to be told, capturing moments for those who will cherish them forever. Travel safe and I hope we all cross paths often until the next summit!

Andrew Hancock - Commercial and Advertising photographer - G - Team Ambassador
Blog

Andrew Hancock joins forces with G-Technology to be their new G-TEAM Ambassador

For those that know me, you know how dedicated and passionate I am about making pictures – whether they be of the still or motion variety. I love capturing moments in a fraction of a second and in motion over several seconds. I love seeing the world come to life on paper or a screen through my lens. Those that know me also know that I work with the equipment and the people that I trust. My success and livelihood is attached to every piece of equipment that I own from the camera to the computer and then to the archive. For the last generation, their moments were all saved and stored in 3-ring binders and in filing cabinets. Now they reside in stacks of hard drives.

Andrew Hancock - Commercial and Advertising photographer - G - Team AmbassadorI have used most every brand of hard drive in my career. I have also had hard drives fail on me over the years. The first external hard drive I ever purchased was for a 12 inch mac book pro back in 2004. It was a G-Technology drive.  At the time it had blazing fast Firewire 400 connectivity. Over the years I have had far too many drives fail on me. However, the one drive that still plugs away is that very first G-Tech drive. Looking at that very first purchase through all the drives and all the brands I have purchased over the last 10 years I began to see more and more G-TECH drives appearing in my collection. The reason for that? I trust them.

Andrew Hancock - Commercial and Advertising photographer - G - Team AmbassadorThat notion is paramount for my business. I need speed and I need to work with equipment I can trust. When it comes to storage, that notion is paramount. You never know when you will need an image much the same way you never knew when you would need something off an old roll of film in the filing cabinet. My body of work is in constant development and I need it all to be secure and safe. For those and other reasons, I am beyond blessed and honored to be added to the insanely talented roster of photographers and videographers that make up the  G-TEAM Ambassador program. I am incredibly humbled and fortunate to be associated with such a fantastic collection of visionaries and to be associated with the absolute best storage company in the world with G-Technology!

Please spend some time at the G-TEAM site and get to know this stellar roster of creatives!!! (My profile is there too if you want to check it out.)

Check out what G-Technology is all about here – http://www.g-technology.com/