Saturday, February 1, 2003. That was the last time I photographed a Texas A&M basketball game at Reed Arena. It was a 64-59 win over Texas Tech. It had been 16 years since the men had played in the NCAA tournament.
I was never a basketball fan, but I enjoyed shooting the sport, even though I did not follow it closely. I grew up in Midland, Texas. Football country. The home area of Frida Night Lights, the book and the movie. Football was king.
Soon after I photographed that last basketball game as a student at Texas A&M, I found myself moving to Indiana to begin my career as a photographer. That first fall, when the stadium lights illuminated the sky on Friday nights, I was in shock. This was not Texas at all. Nothing was the same and the football to me, was a joke.
Then came December…and my first winter north of the Mason-Dixon. With wind blowing and snow falling outside, I finally witnessed something that could compare to high school football in Texas, and that is basketball. I was hooked. Since then, I have photographed at some of the most iconic gyms in Indiana (many of which were featured in the movie Hoosiers), and the most iconic gyms in the country.
Over time, my approach to photographing basketball has become more refined, and much more involved. Over time, I incorporated strobes and remotes…then a lot of remotes and a lot of strobes, all to constantly push myself to make the best images possible every single game. I dont get caught up in the game, I get caught up in the photography. That is what separates the fan photographers from the serious pros.
As my interest in basketball has grown, I have followed Texas A&M basketball closely. I have seen the team ride the best of highs and seen things come crashing down. I watched from afar the mens team go winless and I photographed the women’s team winning a National Championship in Indianapolis, the home of basketball. However, as my abilities have grown, I have often thought of what it would be like to shoot in Reed again, pull out all the stops and photograph the teams like they never have before.
13 years and three weeks removed from that last game in Reed Arena, I was back. All access with the women’s and the men’s teams for their games against LSU and Kentucky respectively. I was refreshed with the crowd and enthusiasm for both teams and the support that was shown by fans in the seats. It was certainly something I never saw as a student. It felt like basketball should feel. It was a rush for me not only as a photographer, but as a fan as well. Still, I am a photographer first and foremost and making the best photos is my paramount objective above all else, regardless of outcome. Yet, I do have to admit, at the end of the men’s game against Kentucky, I was a little jumpy and emotionally invested.
Looking back as both teams begin their NCAA Tournament this weekend, I wanted to share some of my favorites from the games I covered. My thanks go out to both programs for their access, their class and for being great to work with!