A-T photographer shares story of trip

Alicia Kahl

From left to right: No. 10 Taylor Schmidt, head coach Brad Fischer and No. 32 Madeline Staples share a laugh after competing in the Sweet 16 round.
[/media-credit] From left to right: No. 10 Taylor Schmidt, head coach Brad Fischer and No. 32 Madeline Staples share a laugh after competing in the Sweet 16 round.

ST. LOUIS — As a photographer, it is my goal to tell a story through pictures. It is my duty to freeze time and capture a still image of an exact moment. Whether that moment is happy or sad, every picture is an essential puzzle piece to every story.

This weekend I, the assistant photo editor, helped tell the story of the UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team, along with three other editors from the Advance-Titan: Morgan Van Lanen, the sports editor; Mike Johrendt, the assistant sports editor; and Emily Fredrick, the photo editor.

After winning their second round game in the NCAA Division III basketball tournament, the Titans advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. I was secretly hoping the editors would want to travel to St. Louis, Miss. to cover the game.

It happened. We quickly conjured up a plan to rent a car, reserve hotel rooms and were soon in our mini-van en route to St. Louis. All four of us had never really talked a whole lot before the trip, so this almost-seven-hour car ride was a great way for us to get to know each other a little bit. I think the biggest thing we all learned was Morgan is the only one who likes country music.

Mike and Morgan told me and Emily the story of their hotel when they traveled to Virginia for the football team’s trip to the national championship game. Apparently, our hotel was top-notch compared to their previous hotel. We were staying at the same hotel as the basketball teams, so we knew we were in good hands.

As soon as we arrived at roughly 11:30 p.m. Thursday, we went straight to bed. I mean straight to bed—we all had our pajamas on within five minutes of opening the door to our rooms. We were exhausted, but we were looking forward to the morning.

After breakfast on Friday, we were preparing for the interviews we planned to have with the basketball team. Each editor was tasked with a specific subject and everything went extremely well.

Mike interviewed the seniors on their bittersweet journey as a team throughout their careers as Titans and the successes they’ve shared, including their ride through the NCAA tournament. Emily conducted her very first interview and talked with the freshmen.

She asked them about their transitions from high school basketball to college basketball, their views on being a Titan and if they looked up to anyone else on the team.
Morgan spoke with a few other key players about what they did so far on their trip to St. Louis. Lastly, I was in charge of taking pictures of the interviews.

The girls gave everyone really great quotes and I got some good shots, including one of the team’s good luck charm, Sammy the Squirrel. Being the one behind the camera and kind of listening to the interviews, it was interesting to hear what the girls had to say. It reminded me of my time in high school sports. Each editor asked engaging questions and the girls responded with heartfelt answers.

After the interviews, we had a few hours before we could pick up our media passes. We went to Starbucks like the studious college kids we are and did some work for a few hours. Once we all got annoyed with the in-and-out Wi-Fi, we decided to grab some lunch and roam around the city for a little bit.

The next thing on our agenda was picking up our media passes. This was another journey in itself. It took us a little bit to understand the Washington University campus; at one point it seemed like we were driving on a walking path rather than a road.

Nonetheless, we finally found the parking garage and made the trek up to the top of the garage and across the campus that seemed to sit atop a hill. We got our passes and went back to the hotel to rest up for the biggest part of the trip.

Then we geared up and were on our way to the game. Mike and Morgan made their way to the upper level of the gym and set up camp for live- tweeting and gathering statistics for their recap and articles. Emily and I positioned ourselves to take pictures throughout the game.

The gym was interesting for taking pictures. I had too big of a lens and was not able to get full bodies in my frame. The lighting was very yellow and the green walls did not do much to help that lighting. I have to admit that I was really worried my work was going to be lackluster and low-quality. I was worried I was going to become uninspired.

I strive to take good photos at every event I attend. This was an event where I had to figure out the right balance of camera settings and be really strategic with my photo taking. It was a learning experience and I am proud of myself for not giving up. I knew I had to tell that story.

The journey home felt like it took longer than it did to get there. I think we were all ready to get home after a tiring weekend. But, all-in-all, I think we realized how appreciative we are to have opportunities like that and how important it is to show your gratitude. Not every sports and photo editor for a campus newspaper gets to travel hours to cover a sporting event. We are very lucky at the A-T.

We worked great as a team and I think that was the beauty in the entire trip. No, we did not really know much about each other right away, but we were still willing to help with ideas for articles, photos, interview questions and more. I think opportunities like these are essential in strengthening the bond between a campus newspaper staff.

As a photographer, I live life through a lens. The simple click of a button is all it takes to capture a compelling moment. Some moments, though, do not require a snapshot.
All they need is the realization that you are a part of something big and great. I had a few revelations throughout the trip that really validated that I love what I do for the A-T. It has been a remarkable first year with them.

It was a trip that I will remember forever and I am super proud of the work we all accomplished.