Sports photographers freeze forever

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Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston, Michael Jordan soaring toward the hoop, Tiger Woods fist pumping in his Sunday red. Iconic sports photos never die.

Sports photography captures dashes of triumph, desperation and dejection. But they happen within split seconds. Ridiculously fast shutter speeds and a keen intuition are required to catch the moment. Otherwise, they're lost forever.

It's easy to forget the weight photos hold. On Nov. 15, the Pepperdine women's soccer team faced the University of Southern California in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament. I went to cover the game and take photos.

Usually one of our student newspaper photographers takes the action shots, and I stick to reporting. However, this time I decided to dust off my DSLR and take some myself. I only needed one good photo for the website.

That mission of getting one good photo turned into hundreds of photos. Then, Pepperdine forced USC into penalty kicks and, before I knew it, we had won. The players were leaping up and down, sprinting across the field and I let the shutter fly.

Without too many of them out of focus, I caught the moments of elation on the faces of our team right after they secured the win. As I uploaded the photos, it felt like I was reliving the victory.

I had shots of our sophomore goalkeeper, Hannah Seabert, with determination in her eyes following her PK block. And I had shots of the entire team running toward the center of the field as the crowd cheered in celebration.

Those moments with those specific players on our home field only happen once. Next year, the seniors will be gone and who knows if we'll repeat the success of this season.

It's important however, to point out that sports photography is far from easy -- I experienced dozens of frustrations throughout the game. If you're a second behind the action with the shutter, you'll miss the play, or if the focus is off just slightly, the photo is useless.

NBA journalist Lang Whitaker tried his hand at sports photography last year and he had similar challenges. Whitaker had professional equipment and has much more reporting experience than I do, yet he still ran into trouble.

Writers are the ones who get the main bylines, but don't overlook the photo credits. Photographers deserve respect. Their work enhances articles and provides visuals that oftentimes words can't begin to describe.

Alysha Tsuji is a senior Journalism major at Pepperdine University. Her passion lies in sports media, namely when it comes to covering the NBA. Follow her on Twitter: @AlyshaTsuji

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