Shooting the ‘Canes: Then and Now

Kenny Kadji poses earlier today during our basketball freshmen/transfer studio shoot at the School of Communication.

Today was the start of my 17th season as the Hurricanes’ Team Photographer, and my 21st overall including my student years. Things have changed over that period of time, going from processing and printing film in my closet to digital processing and Photoshop work on a Mac. Photos that were distributed to primary clients via FedEx back then are done so via FTP today. Outside sales to editorial clients have been nearly entirely eliminated by agencies such as Getty Images, who have largely commodified the market for stock photography, resulting in use fees at a fraction of what was realized in the past. In its place some photographers have moved to promoting themselves via websites and social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.

“Caneshooter” has become my identity and my brand online and in social media after just being a nickname hurled at me by another photographer back in the late 1990’s. I spend more time promoting my brand than I do shooting photographs. I have nearly 100,000 photos online, of just Hurricanes Athletics. I hope to post interesting stuff, and that you’ll look at my website, my blog, fan my page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or buy a print from my print store.

FSU’s Wide, Wide World

2002 Miami Hurricanes Football vs Florida State

“This is the one game I came here for, the one game every UM football player came here for, to beat the hell out of Florida State,” – Miami LB Jordan Futch, 2010.

The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles meet once a year, and despite what the haters say, the match-up is often the most anticipated game in all of college football each season.
Last season’s battle between the two in-state rivals drew a stellar 5.1 U.S. rating and 8.4 million viewers on ESPN. The 2006 game was the most viewed college football game in ESPN history, averaging  6.3 million households for a 6.9 rating.

“At the start of the fourth quarter, we knew we were the better team. But they knew they were going to win.” – FSU LB Kirk Carruthers, 1991.

One reason for those ratings might be the five games in a 12-season span in which the game came down to 18 feet 10 inches, the distance between those two metal poles in the back of the end zone called uprights on a goal post.

“I think the curse is they’re on our schedule. They’re going to chisel on my tombstone, ‘At least he played Miami.'” – FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden, 1991.

Below is a brief history of those five games.

Wide Right I – 1991
In a rare in-season #1 vs #2 matchup, ‘Canes running back Larry Jones gave Miami a 17-16 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run with three minutes to play.  FSU kicker Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard field goal to the right with less than a minute remaining, and a legend was born.

Wide Right II – 1992
FSU kicker Dan Mowrey missed a 39-yard field goal to the right, and the Seminoles lost to the defending National Champion Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami, 19-16, in a four hour marathon. This game is also notable among the Hurricane Nation for Micheal Barrow’s brutal hit on FSU’s Tamarick Vanover.

Wide Right III – 2000
In Miami’s Orange Bowl Stadium, the ‘Canes took a 27-24 lead after Ken Dorsey threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey with 46 seconds to play, then FSU quarterback and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke promptly moved the ‘Noles into field goal range during the final seconds. FSU kicker Matt Munyon missed a 49-yard field goal attempt to the right, knocking the defending National Champions’ from the #1 spot in the polls.

Wide Left I – 2002
In Miami’s Orange Bowl Stadium, the defending champion Hurricanes took a 28-27 lead with only minutes remaining in the game on a 11-yard touchdown run by Jason Geathers with a little over five minutes remaining. Once again, the ‘Noles drove down the field to give kicker Xavier Beitia a chance to win the game with a last second field goal. Beitia missed the 43-yard attempt to the left, giving the ‘Canes the victory.

Wide Right IV – 2003
In the 2004 Orange Bowl Classic, played in Pro Player Stadium, FSU kicker Xavier Beitia missed a 39-yard field goal that would have given the Seminoles the lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game, and the ‘Canes prevailed 16-14 in the second meeting of the two teams that season.

Miami Arena? Yeah, I Miss It

Miami Arena? Yeah, I miss it.

With its small capacity and lack of suites a bean counter’s nightmare, they did get one thing right.

The catwalks. Rafters. Whatever you want to call them. Most of you never looked up there, let alone walked on them. But with their placement, they were perfect for us photographers. For basketball, they crossed right above the rim on both ends. Another pair even lined up perfectly over goal for the Florida Panthers’ first five seasons.

I often mounted a remote over the basket in those days, as evidenced by the shot of James Jones against Providence College in 2000. This image is one of 290 images from the 2000 season I recently uploaded to the Caneshooter Archive. The ‘Canes won the Big East regular season championship that year and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the tournament.

When the ‘Canes moved to the BankUnited Center on campus, our perfect overhead remotes were history. The new building’s catwalks span the outside perimeter of the floor, and only one crosses the court, right above the scoreboard. There is one location for an off-center view of the hoop, and I may try it out this upcoming season.

So despite the inch thick layer of dust, chalk marks of how many bolts were loose and occasional rat, I kind of liked the “old” place. I’m likely the only one.

A Pirate in the Midst

Yesterday, I signed into Facebook and was surprised to see a friend had been tagged in a photo of a photo – specifically, “The U Pro Bowl” photo we posted on our blog back in February shot by my assistant, Eric Espada.

The photo had been enlarged to what looks like a 16×20 print and professionally matted and framed. The text below the photo stated prints were available for $25 and framed for $85.

We have never authorized this image for reproduction, other than to UM for inclusion in their website and media guide. Only a couple of prints were made for close friends, and not at this size and ratio.

A little investigation revealed the offender’s name, high school, college and employer. Further talks with people involved with UM and the autograph business revealed he was a former ball boy for the Hurricanes. So how did he get the image? We believe he got it from someone inside UM, and this wouldn’t be the first time this has occurred. Because it was likely carried out by someone inside the Canes family it is all the more insulting and offensive. It’s also not the first time a graduate of Cooper City High School pirated our work.

Even though UM helped arrange this shot, in the end, the copyright lies with the photographer, Eric Espada.

I have fought the piracy of our photos for years. I have seen our photos many times on eBay. The pirates have copied our images from magazines and have even somehow acquired original files from an insider at the athletic department. I once caught a former Hurricanes baseball player doing it. I also caught someone doing it who, after being suspended by eBay for these acts, implied a threat of bodily harm against me for protecting my own work. That person now works for an nationally-known autograph and trading card authentication service!

I have also seen our images pirated at memorabilia shows. In most cases, when called out, the dealer/seller usually claims “I bought them at a card show” and when pressed for more information they “can’t remember” where they got them.

Now it appears the new excuse is “I got it from Getty.” It was the first excuse our pirate from the University of Central Florida used in his defense of the Pro Bowl photo.

Many pirates buy and share passwords to Getty and other wire services and steal all the files they want. The company, which has almost single-handedly destroyed the sports stock and editorial market, appears indifferent to piracy of their photographers’ work.

My contention concerning pirated works on eBay and at memorabilia shows is, “If the photo is pirated, then why would you trust that the seller acquired the genuine autograph?”

So how can we tell the image is ours? Sometimes the images just stick out because the other crap being offered on eBay and other venues is horrible. I always cross-check those images I believe are our property with our archive, looking for minute matching details in the images.

You may have also noticed we only offer 8×12’s instead of 8×10’s of most images from the “revenue sports” at UM. The reason is twofold: The images come out of our cameras at a 2:3 ratio (8×12) and also because a familiar image, made into an 8×10, on an auction site immediately catches our attention. We do supply 8×10’s to Allcanes for their annual player signings.

In another example, I had a shot from the 2002 Miami @ WVU game of Willis McGahee running between two defenders. Even though the print was originally sold as an 8×10, I have only sold the print as a limited print signed and numbered by Willis. The print offered on eBay was apparently unsigned, telling me it was a pirated work.

“People will pay if you make it easy, convenient, and a good value. Marketing 101.”

That model has worked for Apple and their iTunes music store. Apple cut through the nonsense and figured out a way to reach a middle ground between piracy and compensation. Customers have downloaded billions of songs in response.

The difference between the music and photography industries is most music pirates are grabbing files for personal use and not trying to resell the material to the general public. In our case, the pirates are making an often-inferior product and selling to the unsuspecting public for profit.

Instead of spending time and energy on a guilt message, we are trying something more focused on becoming a partner with the customer. So last year we started offering digital downloads for $2.99 with the freedom to use those images for your personal use, such as on blogs and social media pages. We also post compelling images on our blog and Facebook page, which you can use personally in electronic form as long as you don’t remove our credit line at the bottom or the IPTC data. We are also dropping the price of an 8×12 photo to $14.99 this fall. We hope these actions are a “middle ground” for most of you.

One thing we will not knowingly condone is the blatant piracy of our images, especially from a Scoop Orlando bartender who is trying to profit off our hard work, sweat and expertise.

Why the ‘Canes WNIT Run Matters

The Hurricanes disdain runner-up trophies.

At least that’s how the story goes over the years.
A College World Series runner-up trophy held a door open for Jim Morris’ interview at UM before being hired back in 1994. A Fiesta Bowl runner-up trophy held a door open in the SID office back in 2003.

Don’t tell it to Charmaine Clark, who was holding the WNIT runner-up trophy like a teddy bear while touring San Francisco after Saturday’s 73-61 loss to the University of California in the WNIT Championship Game.

Even the 1991-92 team, the greatest team in Miami Women’s Basketball history, who bookended the season with losses around 30 straight wins, didn’t win five straight in the postseason.

The ‘Canes made their run after losing 6 of 7 games at the end of the season, including a “one and done” appearance at the ACC Conference Tournament. This team could have called it a season in the WNIT opener against Florida Gulf Coast, a team with a 24-7 record. Instead they took down the Eagles, then the Gators, Aggies, Friars, and Wolverines.

By the time they arrived in Berekely, they were gassed, having spent time in Chicago awaiting their final destination, then having to travel west and play in about 24 hours time. They shot 13% (2 of 15) from the floor to open the game.

The Hurricanes return with all but two players from this year’s team, and with the experience of having played in do or die games and championship pressure and disappointment. This runner-up trophy could be a stepping stone instead of a door-stop.

2010 Miami Hurricanes Women’s Basketball @ University of California – 2010 WNIT CHampionship Game

Forty Scored Seven Years Ago

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the ‘Canes last appearance in Morgantown, WV. Why is this significant, you ask?

It’s not that the ‘Canes amassed 524 total yards in the 40-23 victory over the Mountaineers.

Nor is it that it was Miami’s 800th game, or that Miami tied a school record with its 29th straight win, or even that Ken Dorsey moved into the top spot on Miami’s all-time list for passing yards, completions and total offense, surpassing Gino Torretta in all three categories.

The real reason for celebration is that we won’t, in the foreseeable future, have to go back there!

Since this blog is a positive blog, we won’t tell you about Danyell Ferguson’s fan-fueled rocky ambulance ride (1996), Randy Shannon taking a garbage can to the head (hurled from the upper deck, also 1996), the student section’s propensity for tossing liquor bottles at the opposition (pick a year!), or even my personal experiences with a drunken fan breaking my monopod in a post game celebration (1993), the thrown orange I took in the back (1998), my several run-ins with frat boys, fans or alumni spitting tobacco at me (1993, 1996, 1998, 2000) or any of the other welcoming behavior we experienced on the campus of West Virginia University.

I know that not all West Virginians, or even all Mountaineer fans, are represented by the examples I named above; those we did encounter were bad enough that I am happy not to have to go back there again, even though we are 7-1 all time on their tobacco-stained turf.

WVU fans’ classlessness isn’t limited to Miami. Jay Coulter writes: “Talk to an Auburn fan who made the trip to Morgantown last year and you’ll almost certainly hear a bad story. Many that made the trip say the fans were the worst they’d encountered in all their years of traveling to games. They were described as rude, classless and mean spirited.”

That’s a lot of swagger from a team whose all-time greatest accomplishment includes spending one entire week of being ranked #1.

So today marks the celebration of seven Mountaineer Field-free years; here’s to many, many more. I can’t think of anything more positive!

Our Own “Rudy”

Yesterday Dave Hyde’s column in the Sun-Sentinel told the story of Chris Hayes, a walk-on for the University of Miami Football team who had his “Rudy” moment during a game against Wake Forest last season.

Chris’ moment came the day after his father’s funeral, who had committed suicide earlier in the week.

Ever wonder why you see those “U Family” slogans around? This is one reason why.

Have you ever wondered why I had a suicide prevention ad on my blog and occasionally tweet about it? Suicide touches many more families than you can imagine, mine included.

You can read the article here.


2008 Miami Hurricanes Football vs Wake Forest

The New Frugality, Indeed

This Time Magazine cover from last April is ironic in more ways than one.

The stock photo of a jar of coins was licensed from iStockphoto to illustrate the headline, “The New Frugality.” Apparently, Time’s interpretation of “New Frugality” started with the budget for the cover art.

Normally, a stock photo used on a cover of a magazine with Time’s large circulation would garner about $3000.

Robert Lam, the contributor to iStockphoto who shot the image, received $30.

That’s THIRTY dollars. 1% of the normal rate. And he’s happy about it. So happy, in fact, he wants to buy a back issue and have it framed.

So in the end, he lost money. Great business model, schmuck.

By the way, he wasn’t even given a cutline. iStockphoto received it.

Oooh, the irony!

RIP – Spring Training in DADE & BROWARD

March 19, 2008, Ft. Lauderdale, FLA wide shot of Ft. Lauderdale Stadium during the St. Louis Cardinals 12-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.JC Ridley/CSM

Yesterday the Baltimore Orioles reached agreement with Sarasota city and county commissioners on a 30-year deal to move the club’s spring training games to Ed Smith Stadium.

The announcement means the likely end to 47 year old Ft. Lauderdale Stadium, which hosted the New York Yankees from 1962-95, and the Orioles from 1996-2009.

The Orioles and the city had reached an agreement to refurbish the aging ballpark back in 2007, but the FAA, who owns the land on which both the park and neighboring Lockhart Stadium sit, demanded an increase in annual payment to the agency to nearly $1.3 million.

The news means that Florida Atlantic University will not be under as much pressure to build their proposed on campus football stadium. The football team has played their home games at Lockhart Stadium since 2003. Lockhart was to be razed to make room for the proposed refurbished Orioles complex.

In the 1980’s, the Orioles called Bobby Maduro Stadium in Miami home. The Yankees were at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium, the Braves and Expos at West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium and the Rangers were at Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium. The Cleveland Indians were to occupy a stadium in Homestead until Hurricane Andrew nearly destroyed it in 1992.

They are all gone now.

The closest spring training home to South Floridians is now in Jupiter, where the Marlins and Cardinals train and play at Roger Dean Stadium.

The Sun-Sentinel has a photo gallery of the stadium throughout the years here.

Old School – Slides

Photography has evolved tremendously in the past 15 years. Everything from capturing images, processing, editing and publishing has changed. Film, including slide film, is just one of many photographic processes that have nearly or completely vanished in the digital age.

Reversal film is a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on a transparent base. A slide is an individual transparency (one frame or exposure) mounted in a cardboard or plastic housing which can be used in a slide projector. Slides were also the preferred format for many publishers, due to its high reproduction quality.

Do you think the advent of digital technology has lightened the workload? Think again. Every frame I shoot still gets edited and scrutinized, now its on a computer screen instead of a light table.

I actually miss using slide film. Looking at slides from an NFL game on a light table was like opening a pack of baseball cards as a kid. It was the highlight of my week during the fall.