Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Day With The Heisman

Congrats to Sam Bradford for winning the Heisman Trophy. The Heisman Trophy was modeled after New York University player, Ed Smith in 1934. Frank Eliscu was the sculptor given the task and modeled a clay prototype that was ultimately produced in bronze. This year marks the 74th year for the award that was originally conceived by members of the Downtown Athletic Club.

Several years ago, I was given an amazing assignment to photograph Barry Sanders' Heisman Trophy. I flew to Kansas City to his parents home and was unsure of how I would photograph the award. Of my top memories of the day, was a senior portrait of Barry on the wall in their living room, complete with a vintage fro and tux with ruffles. Classic! (I regret that I didn't get a snap of that). His parents were very kind and showed me where they kept the trophy. It was on a small bookshelf with a few other trophies and the setting didn't make for too dramatic of an image. I asked if it was alright to move the Heisman outside for the photo and the Sanders just told me to take it to a park near the house. It was a funny feeling carry the Heisman out of their home, but it made for a much better photo for my client. I clearly remember laughing to myself, thinking how strange it was that I was driving around Kansas City with Barry Sanders' Heisman. There was no Facebook or Twitter back then, but it would have made for a very funny update, "Tim is driving around in a rental car with Barry Sanders' Heisman". I found an area nearby with a field and decided to shoot the Trophy there in the grass. Low angle, 40mm on Hasselblad.

I am always amazed and thankful for the wonderful places being a photographer has taken me and every year at Heisman time, the memory puts a smile on my face. I also had the opportunity to work with Barry and shoot a portrait of him at the Silverdome. The president of the team came down to check on us as we set up on the field for a portrait. "Do you need the lights on?" he asked. "Sure" I responded, figuring a few lights would come on. He radioed a call and within a few minutes the entire Silverdome was fully lit as if it was game time. Not sure what it cost to light an entire stadium but I'm sure it wasn't in the budget.

A tight shot from the shoot ran as a full page ad in USA Today and a wide image, with the stadium lights, later made the cover of Beckett. Did I mention that I love my job!

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