I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Monday, May 10, 2010

One Good Shot

Photography is not my thing. I take pictures – lots of them – but getting a good shot is always a struggle for me. That normally doesn’t matter, except when writing an article on assignment for a publication and they need a photo to go along with the article. That’s when I get nervous.

I don’t have a digital SLR camera that takes 2,435 photos a second (an exaggeration, of course, but that’s what one sounds like). My camera, which is new by the way, takes about 2.5 photos a second. That’s better than my previous camera which seemed to take about one photo every time I flipped the calendar.

The weekend before last, I was commissioned to write a feature story for the US Olympic Committee website about 14-year-old table tennis champion Ariel Hsing as she played an exhibition against Warren Buffett at the annual Berkshire Hathaway convention in Omaha.

I arrived an hour early and a PR person pointed me to the risers the media was supposed to stand on overlooking the table that Buffett and Hsing would be competing on. The risers resembled the ones I stood on at Robbins Elementary for class pictures – only there wasn’t as much rise between one level and the next.

I climbed the stairs and found a corner at the top of the risers to claim as my own. Over the next hour, the media section filled up and all of us began jockeying for position.

“Are you planning to stand there?”


“This guy is right in my shot.”

“This isn’t going to work.”

“Let’s get this guy to move. He’s not press.”

“Why don’t these risers rise very high from one level to the next?”

“Excuse me, this spot is reserved – see the sign on the floor down there?”

There’s a lot of pressure to be in the right place at the right time. I was a writer among many professional photographers – people with big cameras with big zoom lenses and big tripods – who just wanted one good shot of my subject to go along with the story I was going to write.

We had heard that Buffett and Hsing would only play a few points and that the their exhibition would be over quickly. Nothing like adding even more pressure.

Just before the exhibition started, I leaned over to a guy who was shooting video of the event for Bloomberg and told him I just hoping for one clear shot.

“You’ll get it,” he said. “Don’t worry.”

That sort of calmed me down.

Then Buffett entered the area and it was on. The media leaned forward in collective fashion and their equipment sprang to life.

I ended up holding the camera over the heads of the photographers in front of me and hoped for the best as I snapped as many photos as my camera would allow.

About a minute and a half later, the exhibition was over and all of us fumbled with our equipment, reviewing what we’d captured, looking for the shot.

As I flipped through my photos, I thought I saw one that would work well, but I couldn’t really tell.

Most of the media packed up and left. They were there to capture the Warren Buffett moment. I, on the other hand, climbed down from the risers and moved in closer to the action to snap more photos – just in case – of Ariel playing points against some of the shareholders.

I ended up shooting 440 pictures, which was probably overkill, but I’d rather shoot 440 and get one good one than to shoot 439 and not get one good one.

Then came the part I was familiar with – interviewing the subject.  Ariel and her parents graciously answered all of my questions. I went home, wrote the article and sent it off – thankful for the Bloomberg guy who calmed my nerves for a second in the heat of battle.

Here’s a link to the feature if you are interested in reading it: Hsing’s Game Against Warren Buffett.

I ended up choosing several photos to submit with the article, but ultimately here’s the one I fought for, and stressed over.


It ended up running on the front of the table tennis page on the USOC website and once readers clicked on it, they saw the feature along with another photo I took of Ariel.


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