A picture is worth a thousand words, sure. But have you ever wondered what was reeling in the minds of the photographer as soon as they released the shutter? We asked several photographers to share their personal favorite shots and the stories behind them. From pulling all-nighters to capture the best lighting to traveling the corners of the globe to touching life tales of their subjects, here’s proof that there’s much more to a photo than simply pointing and shooting. Here, three seasoned photographers recount what it took to get that perfect shot.
April Fool by David Liam Kyle
“Every opening day for Major League Baseball brings excitement and hope for a great season. If you live in Cleveland or any place where it is cold, it also brings you hope that warm weather is here—or just around the corner. Opening day also brings back memories of one of my favorite baseball feature photos. It was April 1996, and I was assigned by Sports Illustrated to cover the Cleveland Indians’ opening day game with the New York Yankees. Cleveland had a huge snowfall overnight, and the game was cancelled first thing in the morning. I called Maureen Grise, the baseball photo editor, to check in and let her know the game was cancelled. Maureen knew of the cancellation but suggested I go to the park anyway to see if anything was happening. She said I always come up with something. So I drove down to Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field). I grabbed my gear and walked into the park with my Nikon FM2 with a 180mm lens and Nikon F3 and a 300mm f/2.8 lens attached—all loaded with film and ready to shoot. I also carried wide-angle lenses in my camera bag just in case.
As I headed onto the field, I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of the New York Yankees players dressed in their uniforms playing in the snow. I grabbed a couple of photos of them throwing snowballs, and I then I noticed Yankees pitcher Kenny Rogers rolling a giant snowball. The light background was not conducive for capturing the detail of the scene, so I quickly changed my position so I would have a dark background. This created a better contrast and also created a dark backdrop. The players did not stay out very long, and I immediately went to the airport to ship the film. I called Maureen to tell her that her instincts were correct and the film was on its way. The editors loved my images, and my photo of Rogers ran on the contents page of Sports Illustrated with the caption: APRIL FOOL: Yankee Kenny Rogers uses his $20 million arm to have a ball when New York’s season opener at Cleveland was snowed out on Monday.
Moon by Ginny Dixon
“I took this shot in Ireland. I was there shooting golf courses, and I had just gotten to my room on Spanish Point when I saw that the moon was gigantic and just outside there was a hill. So I sat and watched this moon rise and waited until it got just above the hillside and looked like it was rolling down the hill.”
TSA by Peter Stanley
“How far will the American way of life change as a result of the acts of 9/11?
When Sept. 11 happened I remember watching the horrific scenes and later thinking, “what comes next?” I wondered how we Americans would handle being the victims of an attack and how we would handle the empathy being offered from around the world. I wondered how we would build our security without infringing on our individual rights that we hold so dear.
In 2011, after visiting friends in Colorado, I arrived at the Denver International Airport to long lines and a shocking level of TSA agents. I asked an agent if there was a heightened threat level, and he joked that this was just another day for them. He was friendly enough and invited me to take this picture. There was a sense of irony to this moment, because I’ve lived the majority of my life in countries where you would be harassed and likely thrown in jail for taking a picture of security officials in an airport.
For the final image I chose to only show the blues (all TSA agents had these distinct blue shirts on) to emphasize the massive security presence while also keeping the red in the flag as a focal point. This is America today, and I hope it raises questions and comments about how 9/11 changed the American way of life.
I added this photograph to a gallery on my website called ‘parting shots.’ I borrowed that name from a magazine that used its last page to share an image that always made you pause and look twice.”