Monday, April 7, 2014

Al Diaz delivers on content and insight at NYPA Spring 2014 Conference

By Jeff Cutler

Let’s get this out of the way upfront - I’m a fan of Al Diaz’. His photography is smart, gripping and professional. What I wasn’t ready for was the insight he provided during his educational sessions at a professional journalism conference in New York this spring.

At the New York Press Association Spring Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY, Diaz tackled two topics all aspiring and professional photographers would be well-served to study. He talked about shooting sports - from action, sports features and portraits; and he presented on always being prepared when you’re in the field.

The first session was a visual candy factory of images from Diaz’ time at the Miami Herald shooting professional sports, college and high school athletes. He shared the steps he took to reach out and arrange for shots as well as the particulars that went into crafting the best image from a limited amount of time with busy subjects.

Further, he showed attendees some of the ways in which he prepares for the fast pace of pro sports - from the floor at an NBA game to field-side at NFL events. He even allowed us to peek into one of his more prominent gaffs as a photographer. Specifically, the time he was dead center shooting Miami Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino’s giving his retirement speech and forgot to shut off his cell-phone ringer.

When the phone went off, Diaz was rattled but did his job and got the shot.

From a preparation standpoint, Diaz (in addition to noting the importance of shutting off your phone ringer) talked about keeping your gear ready to go, being organized and knowing how to shoot quickly in all situations.

Some of his in-the-field examples of shots he’s taken included a non-responsive baby on the side of a highway; a kneeling soldier in Normandy, France; and multi-thousand-frame time-lapse of the retractable roof of the new Marlins Park baseball stadium in Miami.

Ultimately, Diaz offered students tips and tricks that make their journalistic photography and general techniques more professional and efficient.
Winners, Herald photo editor Christina Daly and Herald executive editor John O'Connell
holding door prizes from 
Peak Design and Think Tank Photo.
Think Tank Photo and Peak Design door prize winners, content specialist, Jeff Cutler and Strausnews managing editor, Pam Chergotis.

Speaker Al Diaz answers questions after the session.

Speaker Al Diaz demonstrates the use of a single Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT 
with the PocketWizard Flex TT5 Transceiver  to improve your portraits.