Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jennifer Greybeck

In the 2005 Outlaws season Jennifer Greybeck was sidelined with an injury. 

Jennifer is at the left, #34.  She is posing with several other
players sidelined with injuries.
I carried two Nikon cameras to the games, my new digital and my old reliable film model.  She asked me about the two and pretty soon offered to help me shoot the game.  I gave her the digital and asked her to get some fun sideline pictures and try to get some action photos.  Specifically I asked her to try to get line play because the line tends to get limited exposure. 

You need to understand that the digital camera is difficult to use.  Well, it is a point-and-shoot and should be automatic but it takes practice learning where the camera focus is sharpest and how to shoot with limited lighting.  And there is a shutter lag - you trip the shutter and the camera pauses before taking the picture.  Terribly annoying when doing candids and action.  

I didn't teach Jennifer how to use the camera.  Just told her to have fun and we'd see how it came out. 

The pictures I'm about to share aren't technically perfect.  Some not even close.  But they reflect Jennifer's personality.  Fun loving, willing to try.  And able to get her subjects to act up for the camera.

When I shoot individuals it is from a distance. They rarely know I'm focusing in.  With Jennifer, the players knew.  And obviously approved and liked the photographer.

Action shots were much more difficult with that little camera.  My action photos have improved a hundred times with my new Nikon D40.  The old one, the one I had Jennifer using, was extremely difficult to use for sports photography. 

But Jennifer did a pretty good job, don't you think?

Photo by Jennifer Greybeck - This is a great shot with any camera.  Jennifer was getting the timing down.

Jennifer caught the opponent making an illegal block.  I think
that's Laurin Smith being denied the tackle. 

I asked Jennifer to get photos of the line play because the line
gets left out of the spotlight.  This is one of her line photos.

I'm shy.  During the game I keep to myself. I figure coaches and players are busy with the business of winning a game.  They don't need to entertain me.  The fact that Jennifer became a photographer's assistant says something about her, not me.  She was friendly, outgoing, inquisitive.  Eager to try something different, eager to learn.  She initiated our friendship. 

After 2005 I didn't see her.  It was only the one season we visited a little.  But in that brief time I felt I had made a friend. 

I miss her.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where's the Money?

I'm in it for the dough. 

When I retired I thought I'd launch a second career as a freelance writer/photographer.  Starting with the Austin Outlaws.  I had  visions of being the official photographer for a professional football team.  I'd write articles, maybe books.  I'd shoot great photos that would be wildly popular with fans and players who would throw money at me in exchange for 8x10s.  I might even be published in Sports Illustrated.

So far it isn't working out that way. 

It has been fun.  If you've followed this blog at all you know I'm having fun writing silly posts and publishing sometimes pretty good action photos.  If it weren't so much fun I wouldn't be doing it. 

Because it isn't profitable.

I did sell one article about an Outlaw to  the Beloit College magazine.  That paid me $200. 

My photos were published in a local sports magazine.  I offered them for free because I thought it would help promote the team.  My only payment would be the by-line.  The editor left off the by-line. 

I published, free, an article about Ski Tejeda in the Hill Country News.  Everybody loved it. Editor says he got lots of compliments from his readers.  And he did include my by-line.  But it didn't produce income.  I did it free because I wanted to promote the Outlaws. 

(There are links to the articles in the links section of the blog, to the right.) 

I've heard there is money to be made blogging so I launched this blog about the Outlaws.  I have a ton of material  to share after five or so years of taking pictures at Outlaws games.  I've been doing the blog for about a year now.  It has been fun. And it is gaining audience.  It was slow starting because I launched it right after the final game of the 2011 season.  You know, when interest in football was lowest.

A spin-off from the blog was a book.  My blog host offered to take my blog posts and provide them as a PDF book.  I paid the small fee and got the PDF.  Then I went to and published the book. 

Lulu is a print-on-demand publisher.  My 170 page book full of color photos would be expensive by any publisher but print-on-demand set the price at $57.  That's a lot of money.

Still, the book is really cool, especially for players and family who have been with the team a long time.  Cool.  But it won't make the New York Times best seller list.  So far two copies have been purchased.  The good news is that with print-on-demand, I didn't have to buy a lot of copies so it doesn't cost me anything when nobody buys.  (If you want to buy go to and search "Austin Outlaws.")

Another way blogs make money is advertising.  If a blog attracts a large audience advertisers will want to offer products to that audience.  In this age of technology,  advertisers can look at the subject covered in the blog, determine what interests blog visitors, and advertise products likely to appeal to people with those interests. 

The key to success is having thousands of blog readers.  So advertisers will see the blog as a vehicle to carry their message to thousands of qualified prospects.  Unfortunately, this blog's followers don't number in the thousands.  Actually you number in the tens.  And I love every one of you! 

I doubt advertisers will get much traffic from so small an audience.  Nevertheless, I've signed up for Google's AdSense.  

This post is to alert you that you may see some advertising on my blog.  In fact there's an ad posted today.  I have two requests of you, my blog visitors:

1.  Let me know if the ads are distracting.  I can unsubscribe with AdSense if my audience finds the ads to really spoil the blog.

2.  If, and only if, you see an ad for something you're really interested in buying, do check it out.  But please do not click on ads unless they genuinely interest you. 

I'm planning to experiment with - if I tell you about a book I'm reading and you want to buy a copy, and if you go directly from my blog to Amazon, I can get a teeny weeny commission.  I'm still working on setting this up.

It is a good thing I am retired and have retirement income coming in.  My business sense is nil.  I'm having fun, as retired folks are supposed to do, but I'm not a commercial success.  Still I have published a couple articles and a few photos.  And I have published a book.  That's kind of cool don't you think?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Faces of Football

MaryLou Spence has been taking photos of Outlaws for a long time.  She gets some wonderful and amazing shots.  And she has a ton of fun.  Last week was photo day for the team and she was there.  She posted some of her photos on her site.  I'm envious because her pics are better than mine.  She caught the players clowning, laughing, relaxed. 

Photography is fun.  MaryLou captured the fun in such a way that you can feel it right along with her (if she's your FB friend).   For me, I'm having fun doing this but I'm not sure you get to feel the fun with me.  I have fun stopping the action at just the right moment.  I have fun catching the intensity as players battle to control each other.  I love candids, closeups of players who don't know they're on camera. 

The photos I'm posting today were fun for me.  Are they fun for you, too?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Keep your eye on the ball.

From one practice, February 4, here are photos in pairs. First is the receiver concentrating, keeping her eye on the ball. Second a reception.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Great Walker Race, Competition

If you hang around old folks you're familiar with the walker.  These remarkable devices reduce falls in  fall-prone elders.  They are light weight and provide more stability than canes.  Often the walker comes into a senior's life after a fall, as was the case with our ninety-year-old friend, Elisa.

I have to admire Elisa's spirit.  Recovering just two weeks after surgery for a broken hip, she is determined to get quickly back to normal and she doesn't want to be a bother for anybody.  I've experienced three hip fractures (in elderly relatives) and offered my wise and not very welcome counsel to Elisa.  Which she has consistently declined. 

Tuesday we took her to a follow up appointment with her surgeon and I interrupted her entry to the building to caution her about the hazards of "safety" mats common to commercial buildings.  Walkers tend to catch the edge of the mat causing trips and falls.  My interruption annoyed her.  She became (mildly) irate.  In the waiting room she sat with her back to me as a sign that my help wasn't needed.  She's been getting around on her own for ninety years and doesn't need my advice now.

Later departing the doctor's office into the large medical center foyer, Elisa charged forward navigating the door without assistance.  It happened that another walker-user, a young women perhaps seventy years old, was departing at the same time.  And for just a minute I thought it appeared that Elisa was racing this woman toward the main exit doors.  They were side by side and traveling as fast as the walkers would permit.

I soon realized it really was a race.  The younger woman gained the lead by a couple steps but then her  walker got tangled up with the safety mat at the exit door.  Exactly as I had tried to warn Elisa earlier. The younger woman didn't fall.  I didn't say "I told you so."  Elisa didn't say, "Oh, now I see what  you meant." 

I'm telling you about the great walker race, not to call attention to my astute understanding of one of life's hazards, but because it reflects the competitive spirit within the humans breast. A spirit present even the elderly humans.  Even in women.   

Gina and Cookie running for time.  You think they aren't
racing each other?
When I've interviewed Outlaw players for the website or my blog, I've asked about competitiveness.  I had always thought men were competitive,  women were nice.  All my interviewees acknowledged being competitive.  Some fiercely so. 

The competitive spirit was apparent in tryouts.  Theoretically candidates were running against the clock but it was obvious they were totally aware of the teammate in the adjoining lane.  And trying to beat her to the finish line.
Both players determined to push the other backwards.
In practice blocking drills the objective is to develop one's skills by hitting the blocking pad.  But in reality the objective is also to "win" against the other player.  The one holding the blocking pad is just as determined as the one practicing her block.  Sure they try hard because they're going to need the skill for games.  But the competitive spirit is evident as they make those pads pop. 

A battle of strength against strength, skill against skill.
In practice, in games, you'll see the competitive spirit.  Strength against strength, skill against skill.  Every play pits eleven against eleven.  Every play is a contest as players attempt to impose their will on others. 

It is this will to win backed up by commitment of body and mind that makes football so much fun to watch.

This and the photo below capture the intensity of the competition in football.  Eleven
players on either side of the ball.  One side determined to move the ball to the
right, the other determined to prevent  them.

This photo taken immediately after the preceding shot shows competitors asserting
their strength and will to win,  the battling for yardage.  Competing.

So here's a question for you.  Is all this competition good?  There are those in society who are worried that competition damages egos in youngsters.  They've suggested not keeping score in high school and junior high games.  What do you think about that?

And did you notice something I did that was kind of sneaky?  I recited a stereotype, that men are competitive and women not.  But just to see if you're paying attention, I suggested that women, instead of competitive were "nice."  Suggesting competitive isn't nice. 

I distanced myself from the stereotype by saying I had thought that way.  Because I certainly don't feel that way now. 

Competition brings out the best in people.  The best is good. 

I love competition!   People who don't want to keep score are... ah, be nice Dennis... those people are simply wrong. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Coach having fun helping players learn
pass defense. 
Our last post featured lots of smiling Outlaws.  It got me thinking that the players, coaches, and fans are really nice people.  There's a friendly spirit in the practices this season.  No yelling.  Lots of encouraging when an effort is good.  Lots of cheering when something good happens.

This isn't new.  I attribute much of the positive spirit to Lily.  She is serious about the team and does what general managers have to do to maintain order.  But she genuinely loves the game and genuinely loves the players. 

It is easy to get happy pictures.  Like the photo of coach Lance. 

Kids are welcome. 
Some photos from practice last Saturday reflect this positive spirit.  I should know names by now, especially the name of the little girl who has been the subject of so many photos.  The young lady with her is MaryLou Spence, a photographer and team supporter for several years.  The Outlaws are a team where you can be comfortable having your children visiting practices.  And games. 

In the set position.  He's about to attempt to receive a
forward pass.  He'll never play in an Outlaws game but
he can participate in practices.
The boy - I heard his name but forgot it - is son to Diedra Holland.  He comes to practice with her.  He is comfortable with the team and the team is comfortable having him. 

He even gets involved in the practices.  Listens to the coaching.  Tries his hand at receiving passes.  Discovers is it more difficult than it looks.

Another smiling face.  Good effort at a ball that was
too tall.  Catching the ball isn't as easy as it looks.

Catching the ball is difficult for the players, too.  But with every practice they get better at it.  The style of coaching that encourages and builds up the players seems to be effective.

Anticipation.  She going to catch it.  Trust me.
You want to bet she's going to catch that ball?  Passing and receiving - I've talked about both in previous posts.  It takes practice.  In the few weeks I've been watching this season, the players have been getting better. 

Got it.  Now have to keep it.  Footballs are shaped funny. 
Catching them isn't so easy as it looks from the stands.

Catching is a little more challenging when the ball sails over your head.  Time to see how high can you jump.

She's leaping high.  You can tell first because she's higher than than the
player in the foreground. 

I think this is an incomplete pass.  I like the action, two player leaping high. 

Two athletes battling for the ball.  I started being impressed by the leaping.  Then got
distracted by noticing the socks.  Sometimes I get bored at practices.  This shouldn't
have been one of those times.  Well, actually, I didn't notice the socks until I
was doing this post.

This posting is titled miscellaneous because I don't have a clear purpose today.  I selected some photos I like and posted them to see if you like them too.  The leaping high photos are especially cool, in my opinion.  But my mind wanders.  I noticed one of the player leaping was wearing fancy socks, the other wasn't.  That reminded me of my recent study of fashion in football.  I had featured Tiffany's socks.  I'm now routinely photographing socks at practice.  The ones below struck me as very fancy.  What do you think?  Maybe the Outlaws should change their uniforms to include socks like these.  They could change the name of the team, from Outlaws to Fancy Socks?

The Outlaws practices - lots of smiles and laughs.  Kids welcome and even get involved in the drills.  We have an informal fashion contest going on; maybe someday we'll give an award to the fanciest socks.    Football is serious and there's serious work going on .  But football is fun and the Outlaws are having fun. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Serious Fun

Laughing.  Or at least smiling.  I've always found practice to be drudgery.  Even more so now that I'm shooting photos.  Not much happening to photograph.  I commented to Lily, "Practice is boring." 

"Not to me." 

And not to the players either.  They're actually having fun out there.   I started checking my photos for evidence of fun.  This turned out to be one of my favorite projects.  If you're a little down someday, want to be cheered  up a little, come on over and look through my Outlaws photos for smiling faces.  After awhile, you'll be smiling, too.  I certainly was smiling to myself as I prepared for this post.  Happiness is infectious.  I got infected.

Coach and GM Lily Messina.  Enjoying
every minute of every practice. 

All these smiling faces.  Make you want to smile, too, don't they?  The ones above were captured during meetings or pauses in the action on the field.  The one to the right of this text - should know her name but I've explained my weakness, too shy to ask, too short a memory to remember even if I did ask - she has just received a pass and is returning the ball to the quarterback.
The next shot, below, is during blocking practice.  Power vs power, hit that blocking pad, knock the one holding it backwards.  If you can.  Serious action.  Serious effort.  Serious fun.

Smile,  You're on candid camera.

Some players love cameras.  I try to remain inconspicuous.  Have a long lens so I can shoot my subjects unawares.  These two were aware.  They're having fun at practice.

There's a positive spirit at Outlaws practice.  My memory of practice when I played about a hundred years ago doesn't include much fun.  Not much laughing.  Lots of yelling.  I learned words my mother never taught me as coaches urged us to do better, try harder.  Practice was serious business.

That memory influences the way I photograph the Outlaws.  I stay out of the way.  I try not to get in the way.  Try not to interfere.  Try not to be noticed.  I assume the coaches are serious and have not time for distractions.  I say hi to players, discretely, but rarely say anything to coaches because they're working and I'd be a distraction.

Outlaws practices don't match my memory.  Coaches coach - they don't yell and cuss and throw things.  They quietly explain how to pass or run a route or defend a pass or block or tackle.  They do a lot of "atta-girls" when players get it right, or "good try" when players almost.   The atmosphere is positive, up, professional.  Coaches helping players master the skills that will win ballgames.  

Wrapping up after practice.  Don't know what the joke but you can tell everyone is having fun.

The photo below was published recently.  I'm publishing it again here because it is right on point.  Coach is demonstrating how to cover a receiver.  He's the receiver and the player (what's her name?) is defending.  She succeeds.  The pass is incomplete.  You can't see the other players on the sideline cheering for her, celebrating her success.  You can see, in this photo, her "gotcha" poke to coach's back.  They're working hard.  They're having fun. 

When I've interviewed Outlaws for my player profiles, I've asked for highlights of their playing experience.   Practically everyone commented on the camaraderie of being part of a team, part of this family.  As I viewed photos of players genuinely having fun while working on conditioning and skills, I began to see what they've been telling me. 
There is a spirit of "team" that is hard to capture with the camera.  I'll keep trying.