Have you ever wondered how many photojournalists there are in the world? I imagine legions. But what are the chances of finding yourself only one of four photographers covering the press conference that stopped the world for 13 minutes on Friday, Feb. 19, 2010. Meet Eric Gay, who has been working for the Associated Press for 22 years.
Take a break from Spring Training Baseball to shoot a quick news conferenceâ€¦no problemâ€¦right? Unless itâ€™s Tiger Woods
breaking his silence after a three month absence. Oh yea, itâ€™s a pool situation and I’m one of three (later four) photographers, three writers, and two TV cameras. So itâ€™s just the few of us and 40 of Tigersâ€™ friends and guests.
Who knew that Tiger would finally speak out, and me, a photographer from San Antonio would be the one in position to make the trip to the TPC Sawgrass Golf Club. Our Orlando photographer is in Vancouver shooting hockey.
Anyhow, I felt like I was back on the campaign trail. Arrive and check in at 8:30 a.m. for an 11:00 a.m. event. The media check-in was at the Marriott, down the street from the golf club. You canâ€™t even see the gate from the hotel, but thatâ€™s where a viewing room was set up.
A shuttle bussed us to the course clubhouse for yet another holding/work room. I wanted and was prepared to set up a remote to shoot the overall photos I needed, but remotes were not allowed. There was no time anyhow.
We were escorted to â€œthe roomâ€ within minutes of the start time. The room was lighted for TV with tungsten, heavy from one side and not evenâ€¦lots of drop off.
The guests were quiet and arranged in three rows below a huge chandelier. The oak walls were replaced with the traditional blue curtains. Iâ€™m guessing this was to create a staging area behind the scenes.
The organizers instructed us to not block the TV cameras and asked us to work from the right side, and the back of the room. This worked fine since Tiger entered and exited from the opposite sides of the room. My editor instructed me to shoot the h-e-double-toothpicks out of Woodsâ€¦and so I tried. Not my usual style. I like to wait on moments rather than press.
Woods proved to be predictably boring, reading from a prepared statement. I had expected about five minutes of shooting time; We ended up with about 13.
Tiger never showed much emotion. He never even raised his hand past his chest. The big moment came, after reading his statement, when he approached his mother, hugging and kissing her. Thank goodness it was a prolonged hug, since it gave me more shooting time as well as time to improve my perspective.
Within minutes the hug and kiss photos were on the wire, followed by Woods entering, exiting, looking up, looking down, etcâ€¦. All-in-all, I sent about 20-25 photos for general service, followed by another 120 plus to the AP archives. Iâ€™m unsure of the exact numbers, but the other pool photographers did about the same.
But hey, it was just another news conferenceâ€¦right?
Eric Gay’s most recent assignments include the World Series, Fort Hood shooting, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl, NBA All-Star game and now Baseball Spring training. But Eric mostly works in San Antonio and South Texas. He graduated from the University of North Texas in 1990.