Robert Beck's Favorite Shots
Beck's take:<br><br>This is my favorite basketball shot. I used a remote camera placed at the side of the court to catch Richie Frahm of Gonzaga launch a trey against Stanford in the second round of the 1999 NCAA tournament. Gonzaga Coach Mark Few once told me it was his favorite picture because it shows how pure Frahm's technique was. I love the compostion and feel.
I was one of several shooters for SI to cover Barry Bonds' chase for the home run record. Whether you love him or hate him, it was quite a spectacle. Everyday the stadium was packed with fans in anticipation of witnessing history. This night they did. My assistant and I arrived four hours early to set up 5-7 remotes to catch various angles of the record breaker. I made this image of No. 756 with a 50mm lens on a remote camera just up the third base line. It shows all of the fans down the right field line on their feet. The faces are tack sharp. A single asterisk from the stands highlights the ball.
This is probably my most famous image. I was one of three photographers covering the Women's World Cup Final that day at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for our magazine. I had the "up" position over one of the tunnels in the stands. I also had to shoot an overview from the top of the stadium during the first half. That actually took the entire first half to accomplish because President Clinton showed up late to the game. His security detail had "swept" the upper reaches of the Rose Bowl and would not let me actually get on the roof until he arrived. I was stuck in limbo on a middle floor for the entire half! I did not shoot one picture of action. As the second half neared it's end, I realized it would end in a tie and there would be a shoot-out. I worked my way onto the field (without a field credential) and eventually positioned myself behind the goal. We were not supposed to be behind the goal but I was blissfully ignorant. I framed the final kick by Brandi to be a horizontal so the reader could see the team rushing to celebrate with her. When she ripped off her top, the magazine made it a vertical AND our cover.
LT went airborne to gain a few extra yards in this 2006 regular season Monday nighter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is the type of shot football shooters dream about. Big talent in a big game getting big air.
I followed Wayne Gretzky during his chase for record goal No. 802. It was the best of days for the Los Angeles Kings and one of the most enjoyable times of my photo career. Gretz was an amazing player and an even better person. Most of the NHL guys are great to work with. Here I captured Wayne scoring his record-setting goal with my handheld camera tethered to a set of four 2400-watt strobes in the arena catwalk. My timing had to be good, as I had to wait three seconds after every shot for the strobes to recycle before I could shoot another shot. Wayne had skated down my side of the boards and received a cross-ice pass from Marty McSorley (behind the net here). He skated in on a near-empty goal (notice the goalie out of position) and flipped it in past a helpless defender. Three seconds later I was shooting the new NHL goal scoring leader jumping for joy in front of 16,000 fans.
I know. Tiger did not win this Masters. But this is one unbelievable shot of him and one lucky one by me. Tiger had just made the turn and was chasing the leaders through the back nine at Augusta National. I knew his tee shot had drifted right off the 11th tee and would probably be in the grove of trees recently planted there. My assistant (who had passed a kidney stone the day prior) and I had to hustle down from the tee box and through the throng that gathered near his ball. I positioned myself behind a tree down the from Tiger's ball which had nestled itself right against another tree. He contemplated several ways to get out of the jam and moved "patrons" to and fro. He stood behind the tree and blindly drove the ball for the green. In the process he wrapped the shaft of his club around the trunk and sent bark, pine needles, squirrel teeth and his club in all directions. The crowd roared as Tiger's ball fronted the green (he would save par). He retrieved his club, snapped it in two and presented it to a marshal. My shot graced our cover that week.
I included this shot in my portfolio just so everyone could see that I can, and do, shoot a little basketball. Yes, we run this type of picture often, but it is a unique view, very different from what any fan experiences at a game. Television has begun to copy the angle and vies for mounting positions on the backboards at most NBA games. I mount my "remote" cameras at the opposite end from where I sit and shoot. That way I can shoot the action downcourt and still capture the faces of the players. I trigger the cameras with radios. Here a young Kobe readies to give Todd MacCulloch, then of the Sixers, a super facial.
Waimea Shore Pound
Waimea Bay is famous for huge surf and was the original proving ground for big wave riders from around the globe. What most people don't know is that when the outside gets big, the inside, or "shore-pound", is monumental in its own right. Bodyboarders and bodysurfers can be found launching themselves into oblivion when the shore-pound produces grinding death pits. And where the incredible happens, you can usually find a photographer. In this early morning scene, a young buck hurls himself into the jaws of a multi-faced monster.
Greg had arranged with the Navy to fly in one of their jets out in San Diego. I covered his training and arranged to mount a Nikon next to his copilot seat. I set the camera to automatic exposure, pre-focused it, and ran a trigger to where he would be holding on for dear life while the pilot did his best to make Greg throw up. They would fly out to an aircraft carrier where they would do a few landings and launches. He was supposed to shoot on the way out because my Navy advisor wanted the camera out of the plane before they catapulted off of the ship. "There's no way that camera will hang in there with all of the G's that jet will pull while taking off from the carrier," he said. To my horror the plane did not stop after the first landing. They did about three "traps and cats" before parking. I ran up to the jet and was relieved the camera was still in place. "Did you snap any frames?" I asked the golfer. "I forgot!" he exclaimed. He had been so excited he forgot to trigger the camera! Since it had held during the launches, the Navy let me keep it in for his flight back to Miramar. Greg remembered to trigger it on the return and we wound up with this awesome opener of Norman racing into the wild blue yonder.
I've worked with Andy many times through the years. I live in the hotbed of vert skaters (Tony Hawk and Shaun White also live in town.) and Andy is one of the best to work with. This was shot at the vert ramp at the local YMCA. We set a strobe up on top of the ramp some 20-feet up to light Andy as he pulled off an assortment of tricks. The clouds, lit by the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, give the image a surreal feel.
DL III On The Range
The Accenture Match Play used to be played in my backyard. Well, almost. They started the tournament very early every morning which meant the players were up at the crack of dawn warming up on the range. It was often very cold but quite clear. The particular morning found Davis Love III at one end of the range by himself with the sun peaking over the hills and a little mist over the course. The framing by the range poles help make this a very dramatic image.
Cade McKnown was a tough quarterback for the last really good UCLA football team. The temperatures were high this afternoon as the lefty and his teammates battled the Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl. I noticed Cade acting a bit odd as he lined up to call a play. It was some kind of intuition I gained as a parent, I suppose, but I somehow knew what was coming next. "He's going to throw some groceries!" I told my assistant. And then he did. A lot. He let it fly in front of 90,000 people and a live television audience. His center looks amazed. The defensive lineman looks amused. Cade only missed one play in leading the Bruins to victory that day. Can I get an eight clap?
I cut my photo teeth working at Surfer Magazine in the eighties. There is nothing better than loading the camera in a waterproof housing and shooting some good surf action from the water. Here I have captured surfing's king, Laird Hamilton, on a playful day at Hanalei Bay near his home on Kauai. Laird, like all true great athletes, makes everything he does look so easy.
This silhouette of Tiger Woods was shot a couple of years ago during his victory at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines. Play had been delayed earlier in the round by dense fog (still hanging around near the horizon) so the leaders finished unusually late for a West Coast PGA tournament. The sunset finish allowed me to make this image of Tiger, one of the few on tour whose silhouette you would actually recognize. I have to give some credit to my assistant and collaborator, Kojo Kinno, for suggesting this angle.
Trojans In The Tunnel
The Los Angeles Coliseum is steeped in history. The players must walk down a long, large tunnel from the bowels of this 1932 landmark to reach the playing field. The records of the USC national championship and Rose Bowl teams used to be hand painted up on the wall of that tunnel. Led by Reggie Bush (No. 5), this Trojan squad would march past those noted teams before every home game and make their own mark in Trojan lore. They would go on to beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and win a share of the national title. Alas, a proud Coliseum employee would not paint that team's "name" up on the wall. A gaudy plastic coated banner has taken its place. Knowing that these Trojans were destined for greatness, I lit this piece with one low strobe covered with a golden gel, which cast the larger than life shadows of the warriors upon the ancient wall.
This image is a 4 X 5 black and white Polaroid. I made the image while shooting a cover for Sports Illustrated For Kids. Shaun was pretty young then, just starting to become the famous two-sport X-Game athlete he is today. He was a bit uneasy during the early stages of the shoot and asked if his friends could drop by. I had no problem with that. His buddies proved to be all we needed to relax Shaun. Here they wrapped themselves up in the backdrop and one kid covered Shaun's eyes while the other held his skateboard. This was pure innocence captured on the way to becoming the gold-medal winning "Flying Tomato."
Mat Hoffman, Dave Mirra, Shaun White, Tony Hawk, Carey Hart, Andy Macdonald, Lincoln Ueda, Bucky Lasek, Mike Cinqmars, Ronnie Faisst, Clifford Adoptante, Dustin Miller, John Parker and Kevin Robinson
This is a group photo from 2002 of Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huckjam crew. Tony assembled this group of extreme athletes to barnstorm the States. They had set up ramps in an expansive hanger at an old Air Force base in San Bernardino to fine tune the air show. The group included the leading athletes in BMX, moto cross, and skateboarding and featured certified legend Tony Hawk (seated in the foreground), a young Shaun White (far left), and larger-than-life bmxers Mat Hoffman and Dave Mirra. I only wish I could have shot a group X-ray of these guys.
Jay is one of the premier water polo goalies in the country. He is also the one of the sons (the other being older brother John) of the late V.J. Lovero, a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated and, quite possibly, the best baseball photographer there ever was. Jay has led one of his age group teams to a Junior Olympic National Championship while winning the MVP honors. Here Jay is neatly framed by the water flying off the ball during a night match at the Junior Olympics in 2006.
I shot this photo with a Holga, a $14 camera that runs 120 film and has a plastic lens. I love the way the shadows fall in this image made during a Cardinals practice prior to game three of the 2004 World Series vs. the Boston Red Sox.
This image was also made with a relatively inexpensive and very unusual camera. The camera is the Russian produced panoramic Horizon. The lens is fitted in a small drum and when the shutter is pressed the drum rotates 360 degrees. With variances in shutter speeds I can get some odd movement on the film (color neg processed at the local Rite Aid) and even stranger images by wiggling the camera as I shoot. No two images are alike.
The Paskowitz Family
This portrait of the famous surfing Paskowitz family was shot in San Clemente and brings out the personality of each family member and there is a LOT of personality in that group. It begins with the love Dorian and Julliette have for each other. Dorian, better known as "Doc" in surfing circles, and Julliette began their brood in a camper and many of the kids were raised in a not-so-modern nomadic style that was the recent subject of a film. Each of the children (notice there is only one daughter, Nava) have followed their own path through life from a college football player to starting a very successful sunglass company to, of course, professional surfer. Please do not ask me to name all of them. Let's see ... Izzy, Jonathon, Abraham, Salvador, David, Joshua ... uuuummm.
When this image was shot, Amanda Beard was a gold medal high schooler who spent all of her time either in the pool or on the phone in her bedroom. Get it? I had a $500 budget for this shoot commissioned by SI for Kids. I spent the money on bedroom stuff from the local thrift shop. I had NO idea that almost none of it would sink. We had to cut holes in the TV tube and load the chair with cinder blocks from a local building supply yard. Everything was good to go when Amanda arrived....With an ear infection. She could only spend brief moments at the bottom of the pool. She was a trooper as were two of her teammates who swam above her "room." You cannot imagine how long it took us to clear the furniture from the bottom of the pool. Needless to say, her coach and the pool manager were very gracious and accommodating.
USC Pregame Huddle
I used a 17 foot pool cleaning pole with a camera attached to the end of it to capture No. 1 (wide receiver Mike Williams) leading the No. 1 USC Trojans out onto the field at the Coliseum before a game during the 2003 National Championship season. The camera is fitted with a fisheye lens so I don't have to worry too much about the composition of the frame.