Dodge and Burned

March 1, 2012 

Highly anticipated assignments have a way of falling flat. Poor turnout or exaggerated press releases are often the culprits, but most of the time I can only blame my own unrealistic expectations.

I managed to avoid this common pitfall last Friday while covering an after-school dodge ball tournament at Richland High School.

I've always loved the P.E. pastime — enough to take it too seriously while playing with my sister's middle school students a couple years ago. All I knew about this tournament was from the handmade poster my boss, Bob Brawdy, photographed a day or two earlier. It had a date, time and price of admission, and despite the let's-just-check-it-out and no-big-deal-if-it-sucks status of the shoot, I was pretty pumped to cover it.

It turns out the annual tournament had a nice little news hook to it, too, as 18 teams excitedly signed up for bragging rights and to benefit Pennies for Patients. Sure, they only raised $500 from the tournament, but have contributed $75,000 since 2003 through various fundraisers.

On top of that, it was just plain fun. They had silly outfits,


and even some fake coaches. Edward Jaffe of Victorius Secret was particularly animated:

And while the punniness of that team name was lost on me until I looked closer at photos of the bracket,

my juvenile sensibilities still place Trouser Snake 3000 atop the dodge ball team name pantheon. Their bright red uniforms and stereotypical sports psyching made them easy to root for:

And while I should have worked more aspects of the tournament from multiple angles like I did while shooting the opening race for balls,

especially taking advantage of the overhead view,

and working for more peak action:

the biggest letdown was how Trouser Snake 3000 celebrated their undefeated run:

I like the water bottle soaking in the background, but it's nowhere near as exciting as the previous game's jubilation as The Team That's Going to Win celebrated a comeback victory to make it into the finals:

It was perhaps a hidden blessing, though, as the name "Trouser Snake 3000" was unsurprisingly vetoed for the paper. I'm sure they were disappointed that The Team That's Going to Win (more like Team That's Cursed By Its Own Hubris!) got featured in the paper, but they should just be happy they got that team name OKed by school officials.

The shoot ended up being even more fun than I had hoped and served as a good reminder that there are lots of exceptions to rules.

Speaking of wacky rules...

Utah is the latest state working to prohibit photography of farm animals, and while I'm no fan of PETA's often head-scratching campaigns, this law would be a scary step against all forms of investigative journalism. And as the NPPA argues, the restrictions could apply to public lands as well. The 60-to-14 House vote is especially nauseating.

So you may want to have some ginger ale before checking out this funky video of Oscar Lhermitte's footage from a camera strapped to an electric drill.

A viral photo of a supposed banker's jerk move was exposed as a Photoshop hoax.

And finally, big news for small cell phone cameras. Shawn Rocco, whose Cellular Obscura project was my first introduction to high-end work from low-end cameras, opened a gallery exhibit a couple weeks ago, Getty Images licensed Nick Laham's iPhone photos of Yankees players shot in a bathroom. And don't forget that iPhones are good enough for books and POYi wins, as well. Even Chip Litherland, who so famously (in photo circles, anyway) criticized Damon Winter's win, changed his mind a couple months ago.

I wonder when Siri will start giving photo critiques.

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