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Year One: UW Athletics & We Are Juxt

Photo by Matt Nienhuis

This was it. It was the final UW Men’s Basketball regular season game of the year, at home, against the historic blue and gold of UCLA. Being the last game, this meant it was also Senior Day. Having previously shot their final home football game, I knew the atmosphere would be electric and emotional. It is a once in a lifetime moment for the players. They had put their blood, sweat, and tears into this sport over the years. Alaska Airlines Arena had become their home. It was their time to put on one final show in front of the diehard Dawg Pack. And one final time for the Pack to give everything they had, from the tip-off to the final buzzer.

Being a photographer in this type of environment is both the most exhilarating feeling in the world, yet also one of the most intimidating! Especially shooting in such a low-lit environment, with an iPhone no less! Sure, there may be another good play to sharply capture if you miss the first, but Aziz N’Diaye will never hold up his UW jersey in celebration of everything he has accomplished on the court at UW again. A moment he has worked hard for during his long journey from Senegal to the United States. You have to get those shots! Although most of my photos were of the players and the action, these fleeting, in between moments were what I strived for.

Photo by Matt Nienhuis

My fellow photographer, Ray, was fantastic to work with, but it was definitely a challenge trying to get a different perspective of the day. Not only doing something different than what I had done previously, but also capturing something he did not. Or at times, wishing I had caught something he had! After talking, the feeling was mutual, and because of this, we were confident we had collectively captured the entire experience. I hope you all feel the same and enjoy the shots as much as we do!

I have been lucky enough to photograph four UW games for We Are Juxt: Their final home football game (Senior Night), their first Men’s Basketball game of the year, a mid-season basketball game, and finally their last game of the regular season. How I have been so fortunate, I will never know! Despite how many times I wield a press pass, the rush never goes away. I never thought I would be on the sidelines of CenturyLink Field or on the baseline of an NCAA Division I game, let alone as a photographer, responsible for capturing the experience.

Another feeling that never goes away is just how weird it is to be kneeling down with an iPhone next to someone with over $10,000 worth of camera gear held up to his or her eye! Some photographers were open to talking while others clearly wondered how this clown (you) got onto the court! Ha! But at the end of the day, we were all there for the same reason, side-by-side. While I wish I had my DSLR camera every time, it has been a joy to see just how far one could push the iPhone. In some ways, it has broken barriers and has been less intimidating to people when you point the phone at them, rather than have them stare down the barrel of a paparazzi lens! Honestly, there were moments I captured that I think would have scared people off otherwise if I had had my much larger DSLR.

Photo by Matt Nienhuis

As long as I live and regardless of how many photos I take or of what during my lifetime, I will never forget these UW experiences. The very instance of opening the press door and immediately stepping onto the field of CenturyLink, having my heart skip a beat and my breath taken away in its atmosphere. Or entering the court of the winningest home in college basketball, with its gigantic, iconic windows towering over the bleachers, seeing “UW vs. UCLA” on the videoscreen. And how can I forget all the people I have met along the way. I would not have wanted to do it without all of you amazing and talented guys and gals, each one of you pushing me to be better than I was before. The images and memories we all share represent a monumental shift in creativity and community.

I believe it is safe to say we all feel this way, to one degree or another. It is sad to see this come to an end, but with every end comes the hope for a new beginning. We may not know what the future holds yet, but if these past several months were any indication, the reality is we have only just begun!

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Photo by Ray Lee

First off, I want to give a huge shout out to @wearejuxt, @uwathletics and @igers_seattle for making this happen for us. It’s a great opportunity not everyone gets to do and I am grateful I was able to be a part of it!

Never would I have thought I would have a chance to shoot a basketball game at the collegiate level with nothing but a cell phone camera. Of course cell phone camera is an outdated term and the camera on the iPhone 5 could give any point and shoot a run for its money.

When first given the word I would be shooting a UW game, I didn’t know whether to be excited, nervous or a little bit of both. Unlike many of the others who have shot a UW football or basketball game, I only do Instagram for fun and I wouldn’t even call myself a photographer. I’ve never owned a DSLR and have never taken any photography classes or even know most of the terms associated with photography.

Photo by Ray Lee

The night before the big game, I started thinking about the strategy I wanted to go with for the next day. Should I focus more on the game action? The fans? The players? I had to stop myself before I started thinking too much about it- I would end up going to the arena that morning with an open mind and let my creativity take control.

It was amazing to get such open access to the game with a media pass. Being a UW basketball fan, I had attended many games in the past but never have had the chance to get as close to the action as this. Matt, who shot the game with me was a pro at this since he had previously shot a few games before and showed me the ropes. We got a few pre-game shots of the players warming up, of the fans trickling in and of the band members pumping everyone up for the game.

Photo by Ray Lee

Matt and I decided to sit baseline at the beginning of the game and after the very first play of the game – a UCLA dunk in transition right in my face, I knew we were in for a treat. Hustles for loose balls, inbounds passes, steals, dunks… Matt and I were pretty much as close to the action as you could get. Of course, shooting such big and fast players was quite a challenge for the iPhone, but we quickly adjusted to get the best shots possible.

A very under-rated aspect of the whole college basketball experience is how much hard work the cheer team, mascot and band members put in for each game and we tried to get the most shots we could to bring that to light.

Towards the end of the game, UW lost the lead and it was apparent in the body languages of the players that the game was starting to get out of reach during the last minute of the game. Matt and I were fortunate to be so close to the action to get these emotions in our shots. That was the best part of this whole experience- being able to be a part of the excitement of leading a close basketball game and the emotions of letting it slip away in the last minute, all captured on a cell phone camera.

Photo by Ray Lee

Overall, it was an amazing experience and it’s just a testament to how far mobile photography has come. Sure, the other photographers with their DSLRs and huge lenses looked at us funny when we sat next to them on the baseline with only our cell phones but at the end of the day, I feel we did as good of a job, if not better of capturing the emotions of the game and sharing that with all the Husky fans! #GoDawgs!

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Photo by Rachel S Juxt / Instagram

PhPhoto by Rachel S Juxt / Instagram

Photo by Christine D

Photo by Christine D

Photo by Christine D

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Editors Note: On behalf of Juxt, we want to thank all the mobile photographers who participated and made this athletic season happen.  We love the passion for the artform and moreso the community. BIG thanks to you all 100 times.  Also we want to thank Daniel Hour and the UW Athletics team for these great opportunities.  He and his team are great supporters for the mobile photography community, not just locally, but internationally.  Go say whats up to them on their Instagram feeds! We look forward to next season with you and any events in between.

To see all the great photos from both the Men’s Basketball and Football season see below:

3 Comments

  1. What you are doing with mobile photography in the field of sports journalism is simply incredible. Being a huge sports fan myself, I am so excited about where you guys are taking this. The sky is the limit– I can’t wait to see where you guys go next, and quite frankly, I want to be involved!

  2. oh……..that was FUN !

  3. This past season was so amazing – can’t wait for the next!
    Football too, of course ; )

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  1. The Season is over for most of us. | The Land Slide Photography - [...] using only our mobile phones. Check out the wrap up article and some awesome photos here at  We Are Juxt . ...