May 2, 20011 Issue of Sports Illustrated

From the May 2, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated, a portrait I shot of Indianapolis Colt receiver Austin Collie who has suffered multiple concussions.

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One Hour with John Wooden

When you meet a legend, you don’t expect him to answer the door.

When you meet John Wooden, he’ll apologize for not having answered the door quicker.

When you meet a legend, you don’t expect to be greeted like a truly important person.

When you meet John Wooden, you discover he’s as interested in you as you are in him.

When you meet a legend, you don’t expect to find he lives in a small, unpretentious town house in the “Valley.”

When you meet John Wooden, you discover his home feels like your home, warm and comfortable.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

I only met John Wooden once, but it was one of the greatest hours in my life. I arrived to shoot a portrait of the legendary UCLA basketball coach at his home and left with the feeling that I had just learned more from listening and conversing with Mr. Wooden than at any other time in my life. His demeanor, speaking tone, genuineness and strong opinions on etiquette, sportsmanship and civility were embedded in me during that assignment.

Now, as I reflect on a man I pray will live for 20 more years (he’s 99), I am reminded of the book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” The novel spins a tale about how one person can impact another person so deeply, even in a passing moment, that you will meet them again in heaven. I can assure you that Mr. Wooden would not remember our hour together years ago, but I can assure him that he will be one of the five people I meet in heaven.

That’s the impact that John Wooden, small in stature but enormous in life, had on me.

NOTE: Moments after posting this Mr Wooden passed away. His life was lived in full and may he find the eternal happiness he so deserves)

When to Donate

Another request today for an image that an organization would like to use without paying. Although in the majority of cases I respond with a standard request for usage information so that I can create a quote, this time was a bit different.

My concern over the evolution of photography has been well documented here. Even recently I wrote about the devaluation of images due to the availability of distribution platforms as well as the proliferation of digital cameras among the every day consumer. In other words, higher volume, easy sharing/distribution and general a disregard for quality or value has contributed to the belief that most images can be acquired for free. Well, that’s not the case for me, although I always weigh the request. Today’s request was just a bit different.

The Independence Fund, a non profit that helps disabled veterans acquire equipment, especially the iBot wheelchair that retails for $25, 000-$30,000, as well as raise funds used by the vets in leisure and athletic activities, requested the image below.

Participants in the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego, California

The request was to use the image in the header of a soon-to-be redesigned website in hopes of making it more attractive to potential contributors. After some basic research on The Independence Fund, I decided this was one of those times where it would be pathetic for me to charge anything. It’s a relatively small organization built around volunteer efforts to aid disabled veterans. In other words, it was time to donate.

There are countless ways to provide help to others, and everyone has a cause that is dear to them, but it’s essential that we all try to contribute in some form or fashion. This was just one of those opportunities and I’m glad for it. I know many of my friends and colleagues do the same (with a favorite among photographers being Do 1 Thing.)

To make a donation to the Independence Fund, click here.