When Scott Kelby announced a professional hockey photography workshop I was floored. Nothing like this has ever been done before. Being a hockey fan it took me only a few moments to make the decision to go and for a three day workshop the price was more than reasonable. Granted, I hadn’t shot any sports at all but I had to start somewhere. The fact that Scott Audette, who is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s team photographer, would be teaching the actual photography side made it even better. Audette has been primary team photographer for 14 years and his work is brilliant. Kelby, who is known for amazing workshops, would be organizing it as well as teaching the post processing side of things.
The workshop has come and gone and here is my honest take on the weekend.
Day 1: There wasn’t much to day one as we all simply gathered at about 6:30pm for a meet and greet. They provided the 20 of us with Krystal burgers for dinner… lots of them. While this might not seem like a good thing it was much better than having it catered with food that looks good and tastes like cardboard.
They went through introductions and the basics of what we were going to be doing. The first rule for the weekend was the best. Don’t get killed… They weren’t kidding. Audette explained how many lenses had already been destroyed this year.
Audette put together a slideshow for us showcasing his work. He said that it would be too easy for him to show some amazing images from his 14 years with the team he decided to only show us work from this season. The season of course had been hacked already due to the lockout. The images were astounding and made me hopeful for the weekend.
Day 1 finished up with a tour of the arena with emphasis on the art work staged throughout.
Morning of Day 2: This day started off with a little bit of a safety meeting as wells as a tour of the Media points for shooting the morning practice scheduled by the Lightning. They talked about the different locations and the recommended camera settings that they use.
Just as soon as the Lightning hit the ice for morning practice we all had a chance to roam the arena to get whatever photos we could.
We all gathered back to download our images and head off for lunch. After returning from the break each of us went through our images and selected the best 4 or 5 for a blind peer review. This is where they look at the images and critique them to help you prepare for the game that night. It is also where they chose certain people for certain shooting locations. We only had 3 ice level shooting spots available and there were 20 of us. That means 11 people did not get to shoot from the ice on game night.
Evening of Day 2 (Game Night): After dinner we gather back at the arena where we were given our shooting locations and where to be when. We all had been given media credentials for the game and got to shoot from several different media locations. The game was incredibly fast paced and it was difficult to follow the puck looking through a lens. Difficult but not impossible!
By the end of the game there was a 70-200mm lens that managed to have the front element smashed apart by a flying puck. It really is a rough sport. The night ended along with the third period.
Day 3: We all met back on the final day to look at how the goal cameras and remotes worked as well as spend some time on the ice with three players for some portrait work. Just being on the ice of an NHL rink was a treat. The portrait sessions were great and the players were so giving of their time. We all broke for lunch and returned ready for the final critique.
We each submitted three images for the final critique with an award to the best image. While I didn’t win the big prize I was pleased that they had nothing negative to say about my images. The person that was chosen as the winner took a great shot from the game and I knew when we were looking through the images that it would take the prize. Sadly, the day and thus the week came to an end.
My feelings overall: This was an amazing experience. It was unique, well planned, and the access we had to the players, the facilities, Scott Kelby, Scott Audette, and Mike Carlson was well above my expectations. They were there every step of the way helping answer any questions and provide good critical feedback to the images we were producing.
If I had one negative thing to say about the entire experience it would be that there were about 10 photographers to many. It would have been nice had everyone had an opportunity to shoot from the media locations on the ice. After all, we each paid the same price. I know I would have been willing to pay double the price for ½ the people. I do admit that how the individuals were chosen for ice level shooting was done fairly and unbiased. Even with this one critique I would jump at the chance for the exact same workshop.
Well done Scott Kelby and Scott Audette!!