By Samantha Cheng
Way back in the spring 2017 semester, I decided to join the Quo Vadis newspaper as a photographer. At that time, all I had was a phone to take my photos. After the semester ended, I felt inferior to those who had professional-looking cameras. They took great quality photos with ease. On the other hand, I struggled to take photos of people at certain events. They would move around and turn out blurry in my photos. I felt the need to do better and provide more content for the newspaper. I thought that by buying a camera and becoming a sports photographer for the newspaper, I would satisfy this need.
I anxiously waited for Cyber Monday. My personal budget for buying a camera was about $500. Ultimately, I had to choose between a Canon EOS Rebel T6 or a Nikon D3400. The deciding factor that made me choose a Nikon camera over a Canon camera was frame rate for taking pictures. The T6 shoots at three frames per second, whereas the D3400 shoots at five frames per second. I heard that professional sports photographers have cameras that can shoot at least 10 frames per second. Unfortunately, those cameras can cost more than $1,000. I settled on the camera that had a slightly faster frame rate than the latter. I wanted to have a slightly easier time getting the action photos I wanted. With the click of a mouse, I bought a bundle on Amazon that included the Nikon D3400 camera body, a small lens, a big lens, a tripod, a 16GB SD card, a camera battery, a charger and a camera bag.
The first sport I took pictures of was basketball. I went to some home games when I could. I did it for the sole purpose of getting content for the newspaper. At this time, I didn’t know the best way to take sports photos. At first, I used the digital screen on my camera to view and take pictures of the game. This became a pain because it was hard to follow the players with my camera. After a while, I started to use the viewfinder, which made it easier to focus on the player and get clearer photos.
As I was taking basketball photos, I was using sports mode. In this mode, one of the settings is automatically set to “continuous.” This is where the camera’s frame rate comes into play. By pressing and holding the shutter button, my camera would take pictures at five frames per second until I let go. At the end of each game, I would end up sorting through hundreds of photos because I didn’t know what to look for when it came to basketball photos. I basically abused the “continuous” setting and took photos of almost every second of the game.
I relied solely on the viewfinder, and I was being selective about when I pressed the shutter button. The baseball season was also when I stepped out of my comfort zone.
I had always been a shy and unconfident person, so meeting and introducing myself to the head coach was tough mentally. I didn’t want to screw up and make a bad first impression.
The head coach, Chris Mooney, turned out to be nice and appreciative of the fact that I covered baseball games. He even let me stand next to the bench the players were sitting on, instead of standing on the bleachers behind a fence, to take pictures.
After the baseball season and the spring 2018 semester ended, I had been looking forward to the next sport I would be taking pictures of: soccer. My first reason for looking forward to taking soccer pictures was because I had nothing better to do during the summer, besides work. After work, I would go home and do nothing productive. My summer is always uneventful. The other reason is because, at this point, I loved taking sports photos. I never wanted to miss an opportunity for taking action shots. I found them more exciting than taking photos of scenery.
The first soccer home game was on Aug. 28. As I walked towards the side where the teams were, I tried to muster up enough courage to introduce myself to the coach. I introduced myself to the coach that was on the side closest to the scoreboard. After settling down by sitting on the stone ledge, I saw that the team’s shirt said “Vikings.” MCC’s mascot is the Blue Colts. It was at that moment I realized I met the wrong coach. I went over to the other side to meet Zizo Sherif, the head coach of MCC’s men’s soccer team.
When I first started taking soccer photos, I thought I would blend into the background. I thought I’d be a part of a fence, or a tree or something. I never thought anyone would approach me, and I never thought I’d enjoy watching and taking pictures of soccer. I thought I would be someone who would just come to take pictures for the newspaper and then leave.
After the game on Sept. 4, someone asked how they can get photos from me, so I gave him my not-so-professional business card. Then, over the next couple of days, I got a jump in followers. I was taken aback. With my being the shy and unconfident person I am, I didn’t post anything for about a week. I was afraid that my photos weren’t good enough. And then whenever I arrive at the men’s soccer games, I’d be greeted with “SAMMIIIIIIIIIIIEEE.”
The soccer season was probably the season when I grew the most as a photographer. I got a boost in followers and confidence. I shifted from using sports mode to manual mode (the mode where I can change shutter speed and aperture), and I tried using photo editing programs. I even bought my own professional business cards.
Back during the spring 2017 semester, I forgot to stay up at midnight on the day fall 2017 registration opened. A semester-specific computer science class filled up almost immediately. I had to wait another year to register for that class.
I used to be bitter about the fact that I got stuck at MCC for an extra year, but I am now glad that happened to me. If that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have met everyone I’ve met so far. It’s been a pleasure taking photos of the sports teams on campus. I had so much fun and made new friends. I appreciate everyone who has posted my photos or made them their profile pictures.