Mr Perfect


After photographing Billy Hatcher for Major League Baseball, I was honored to be asked to photograph Tom Browning for the All-Star game program. Tom is best known for pitching a perfect game. He is known among the names of Cy Young, Sandy Koufax and Catfish Hunter. Yes, Catfish Hunter. A side note – Catfish Hunter is a person and not a red-neck reality TV show. In the history of Major League Baseball’s 135 year history, which is over 200,000 games played, only 23 pitchers have pitched a perfect game. That’s quite a history. That’s less than .000115% of all games… Sorry, baseball is the game of statistics. I had to throw out some random percentage.

Tom is now a pitching coach for the Dragons, the Dayton Ohio Minor League team, so the shoot was scheduled around the team’s travel and game times. Our only available date ended up on an afternoon, after I was returning from a program in Boston. It was tight, but I came straight from the airport, to photograph Tom at the Dragon’s stadium. My assistant met me there and we made our way onto the field. The day was overcast, but no possibility of rain. MLB had asked to photograph Tom on the field in a heroic pose, so I set up a profoto strobe on the third base line to light Tom, to allow the background to go darker, giving that dramatic emphasis on the hero.

Tom showed up in street clothes, as requested and he was such a nice guy. Unassuming and genuine. He was quiet, but open to talking. Tom admitted that he was honored to be featured in the All-Star program and he was the perfect model. We photographed him in his Dragons uniform too, which made for a nice option. He gave us all the time needed and left us with a great memory. Thanks Tom. It was an honor meeting you.

All-Stars of the Past

– Click on image to enlarge –

I recently had the good fortune of being asked to photograph one of my favorite players of the past, Billy Hatcher. You’ll likely remember Billy for his seven consecutive hit streak of the 1990 World Series, when the Reds swept Oakland to win the championship. That was an incredible time to be a Reds fan. The “Nasty Boys,” “wire to wire” and one of the most exciting managers to watch, Lou (base kicking, tantrum throwing) Piniella.

Billy was a constant gum chewer. He’d chew bubble gum all the time and he played in the outfield. When a ball was hit to him, he’d subconsciously blow a bubble as the ball would approach. It was fun to watch.

Since the All Star Game was being hosted in Cincinnati this Summer, MLB decided to do a series on the all stars of the Reds and Hatcher was one of the first. Fortunately for me, they found me (via Google search) and had me photograph Billy at the Great American Ballpark, home of the Reds. The object of the assignment was to capture Billy at his place of work in casual attire, yet in a heroic pose. Why the Reds ballpark? Ahh, Billy is the first base coach for the Reds. So, with a security clearance and amid a rigorous travel schedule, we scheduled the shoot around many obstacles. The only time available was Noon, which is never a good time for an outdoor shoot. So, we packed the lights and headed for the ballpark.

We met the Director of Media relations, an old classmate of mine by chance, and went to the field to set up. We were given the rules of what was allowed on the field, what wasn’t and why by the head groundskeeper. Hey, if I had multi-million dollar athletes at risk on my field, I’d have a lot of rules too. After setting up amid the dos and don’ts and testing, we were ready for Billy. We had bubble gum ready for his enjoyment (and possible prop) and we waited. Billy being the great professional, he came right on time and ready for the shoot. And what a nice guy. No airs or attitude. Just a nice, normal, friendly guy. I can’t say enough about Billy and how gracious he was and the pleasant experience photographing him was. It’s especially nice when your heroes act like you you’d like them to.

The next post is what happened after the Billy Hatcher shoot… more good to come.


Iconic Doorstops, the Hook and the Metric Crap Ton.

Click on a link to watch a video and a commercial pops up. You can skip the ad in 4, 3, 2, 1, “skip ad.” If it caught your interest, you may have stayed. If it was a sell, then you skipped it. In embedded ads, the hook has to happen within those first few seconds or the viewer is gone.

In a post about the future of video, it would have been easy to talk tech…don’t get me wrong, tools are great to have, but they are just tools. Most of us are tech nerds, who spend a metric crap ton of time researching and testing equipment to enable us to do new and exciting work. What we all need to remember/admit is that even the most advanced piece of equipment/technology, won’t make the viewer watch our work. Think Blair Witch Project. It was shot with simple video cameras – and video cameras are getting more simple all the time. The director didn’t have the subjects lug cinema quality cameras. It wasn’t about the tool. It was the suspense and excitement that held your attention.

Recently, I spent a large amount of time researching and watching various types of motion work. I watched everything from great movies to successful commercials. The good ones made you relate to someone or something, right away, which made you part of the story. That hook is what keeps us from going on to something else. Developing that hook is tremendously important and difficult to quantify. And doing it sooner is becoming more important than ever. Attention spans are getting shorter and they will likely get even shorter in the coming years.

To prepare for the future, spend a metric crap ton of time researching what makes a motion piece interesting enough to hold the viewers attention and less time researching the newest, iconic, doorstop bound pieces of hardware. The future of video, is getting and holding the viewer’s attention. It’s not about the tools.

Todd Joyce – BTW, the metric crap ton is slang for a huge value that is hard to quantify, e.g. Todd has a metric crap ton of work at

On and Off Leash

I shoot tethered a lot.   Sometimes I feel like a dog on a leash, but despite the restrictions of being tied down, shooting tethered saves me a lot of time in my workflow.

Whether shooting portraits or an advertising campaign, shooting tethered is a way to improve communication.   It allows the art director, client or subject to see the work and either approve the approach, composition or even the actual image immediately.   I’ve finished many shoots with the client approving the final image before I pack up.   This saves time in editing, building web galleries or pdfs etc and takes me right into output, retouching and delivery sooner.   All good things to save time.

Another tool I use is my ipad.   I use Phase One, Capture One Pro software, which has a viewing option that links to an app on my ipad.   I give the client the ipad to watch the progress so that they are involved without having to sit in my lap.   It’s the best of both worlds and they can even mark and rate their favorites as they view them.   I’ve also had shoots where there was no room for the art director because of the space where I was shooting.   IE on a lift or ladder or in a tight corner.   I’ve even used the ipad link for my viewing in a piece of machinery, where I ran a cord to the computer outside the machinery and kept the ipad with me to view and control the settings.

Another tool I use is the profoto air strobes with the remote trigger on camera.   The remote has a great feature that allows me to change the power on any single strobe or group of strobes, right from my camera.   I’ve been on lifts or tight spaces or even loud places where changing the power up or down was difficult for me or an assistant.   The remote makes it easy and fast.

Tools need to make my job easier, faster or better.  It’s great when the tool does all three.

Todd Joyce