Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova is using some of the photos I took of her during her off-court activities at the Family Circle Cup on her website. To check them out, visit her Website, click on Tournaments, and click on FamilyCircle Cup. Enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

At Work (or Play?)

Everybody says I have WAY too much fun at what I do. I guess this goofy picture proves it. My good friend, photographer, and fellow tennis player, Frank Oplanic, was up in the stands waiting to get a different perspective of Maria Sherapova exiting the stadium after one of her matches. Mic Smith (no relation) of the Charleston Post & Courier, who is standing behind me, and I were on-court hoping for a good shot of her signing autographs. When Frank yelled out at me I turned and gave him my best "Blue Steele" pose. :-)

Frank also caught this one of Serena Williams heading off court after she won the championships. He was standing about where I was in the shot above. I had just finished photographing Serena with the ball crew. That's Amy Binder, of the WTA Tour, walking with Serena. Amy is a huge help to us media people, letting us know which players are going to be where for photo ops. Many thanks to Frank for sharing these with me!

My good friend and fellow photographer, Doug Cunningham, and I stretch our legs while the players change sides during the finals on Stadium Court at the Family Circle Cup. (Those photographer's benches are low to the ground and not built for comfort - HA!) Many thanks to Doug for sharing this photo with me and our friend and compatriot, AP Photographer Alice Keaney, for shooting it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Portrait of a Champion

CONGRATULATIONS to Serena and a fantastic victory yesterday! This is her first Family Circle Cup trophy after five appearances in Charleston. She now joins her sister, Venus, as a winner in our beautiful city. And what a year to win it...on the 35th Anniversary of this historic tournament! This was shot in a private session shortly after the match yesterday. Doesn't she look happy!?!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The 35th Champion

It was a tough three-set match, but in the end Serena Williams prevailed over Vera Zvonareva. Serena's ranking is expected to rise to #6 in the world after winning this, her third title of the year. Serena was glad she came out of the gates strong. "I just wanted to get that first set under my belt, and thank God I did because I lost the second." She knew it wasn't going to be an easy day against Vera. "I've played her a few times, so I really know her game and she's a real fighter and she never stops." The power and shot-making from both sides of the court was IMPRESSIVE. Here are a few of my favorites out of the mere 715 I shot during the match!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

35th Anniversary Gala

During the tournament, tennis action is not the ONLY thing I photograph. Part of my responsibilities include all the VIP Events that happen off-site. There's a party of some sort almost every night of the week! But tonight's was THE BIGGIE! :-)

Virginia Wade, the last British lady to win Wimbledon, with the always kind and gracious Martina Navratilova, at an earlier party at the Charleston Maritime Center

Chrissie Evert (who won 8 titles at FCC - the most ever) with her fiance (Greg "The Shark" Norman) on the left, and Arantxa Sanches Vicario (former champion who made the most appearances at the FCC - a total of 18) and her fiance on the right during cocktails at the Market Street Circle outside Charleston Place Hotel.

Jelena Jankovic (last year's champion who won the hearts of many fans here...including THIS one...because of her sportsmanship, positive attitude, down-to earth personality, and beaming smile) posing with her mother during dinner at The Riviera.

Pam Shriver (the evening's co-MC with Bud Collins) and Chris Evert share a laugh about the "good old days" of women's tennis (something about home-made brownies that I can't repeat) during a panel discussion that included a who's-who list of former FCC champions: Rosie "Rosebud" Casals (who won the very first tournament 35 years ago!), Arantxa "The Bumblebee" Sanches Vicario, Conchita Martinez, Chris Evert, and Jelena Jankovic.

Arantxa recounts a funny story about a Ferris wheel (and that's all I have to say about that!) with her fellow spaniard, Conchita.

Bud Collins, Jelena Jankovic, Chris Evert, Conchita Martinez, Rosie Casals, Pam Shriver, and Virginia Wade.

Friday, April 18, 2008


As a bit of a "doubles-specialist" myself, I actually enjoy watching and photographing the doubles matches more than the singles. Unfortunately, the demand for images from the singles far outway the doubles, so I shoot more of the other. In any event, I was SURE this was going to be Kveta Peschke & Rennae Stubbs' year! Unfortunately, they got beat today. But I like them as a team because I can relate. They've both passed their physical prime and no longer enjoy the grind of playing both singles and doubles. So they've teamed up to only play in the doubles portion of tournaments like the Family Circle Cup. They've been doing very well. And I would have loved to see them win this one. Particularly because they're both SO fun and pleasant to everyone. Their excitement for tennis and for life is infectious. I get to shoot a lot of "behind-the-scenes" events with top players on the tour. And nothing ruins my day like a professional tennis player turned celebrity that doesn't have the time of day for the rest of us mere mortals. ;-) Witnessing stars like Kveta and Rennae who are still as friendly to the people they meet as ever...well...it's a pleasure just being around them.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

ESPN Opening Shot

ESPN arrived to day to begin their coverage of the tournament. And they had the crowd all staged behind them to get their "Opening Shot" while Cliff Drysdale & Mary Joe Fernandez made their opening remarks and spoke with guest and former champion, Conchita Martinez. I covered the event by putting my D3 and super-wide 14-24 f2.8 on top of my monopod, stretching it about 12 feet off the ground with a remote control, and getting this overview that includes the Family Circle Cup banner above the crowd for context. Here's a couple close-ups as well so you can see the stars better. :-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


It was an awfully chilly night, but Maria Sherapova was HOT! She took less than an hour to trounce Bethanie "B" Matteck at 6-0, 6-0. The last time Maria played the Family Circle Cup was five years ago and she had a poor showing, loosing in the early rounds. This was her first time to play under the lights at the new Stadium Center Court and it seemed to suit her just fine! :-) Trained at the famous Nick Bollettieri Acadamy, Maria is interested in fashion, singing, dancing, and movies (her favorites including Mona Lisa Smile, Something's Gotta Give, and Love Actually). She enjoys reading books in the Sherlock Holmes and Pippi Longstocking series. Her favorite desert is crepes with Nutella (mmmmm...). And one of her favorite drinks is Orangina (something I drank a lot growing up in the Congo).

You can see tons of my FCC images from last year on this year's program (including the cover), brochures, and of course the stadium banners. This year's images are already being posted on the Family Circle Cup website (including the Daily Photo Gallery), and on the WTA Tour website. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Upset of the Day

In a stunning display of talent, Sorana Cirstea of Romania upset the #3 seed, Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in three sets. Introduced to tennis at age 4, she has steadily climbed the ranks since turning pro just a few years ago. Beating Anna was her first win over a Top 10 WTA Tour player. Sorana speaks Romanian, English, Spanish, and is studying French. Her favorite shot is her forehand. She enjoys playing all kinds of sports, shopping, reading, doing crosswords, and going to the movies. She has two parrots. And the player she most admires is Steffi Graf. Keep your eye on this young lady!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Player Party at Saks Fifth Avenue

Today was a HECK OF A DAY! Tons of great tennis, gorgeous portraits of the top 8 seeds during the media-hour, the Lacoste Fashion Show, and wrapping it all up with the Player Party at Saks. Here's Dinara Safina in the middle and Elena Dementieva on the right enjoying some down time at the party.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hogin' the Balls

Today was a beautiful day at the Family Circle Cup! We had some hard-fought battles during these early qualifying rounds. And we had some humorous moments too! Like when I caught Agnieszka Radwanska, the energetic 11th seed from Poland, hogin' a few tennis balls to take with her after her practice session!!! ;-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Let the Competition Begin!

Well Gang, it's that time of year again! Qualifying rounds of the Family Circle Cup begin today. As one of the official tournament photographers, I'll be out here all day every day until a new champion is crowned next Sunday, April 20th. As always during this period each year, I'll be difficult to get a hold of. But I'll be sure to get back to everyone as soon as I come up for a breath of fresh air on the 21st! :-) In the meantime, look for my images all over the tournament website, the tournament program, and on the banners hanging from the stadium walls. If you come out to cheer your favorite player, and spot me hustling from one court to the next, don't forget to say "Hello"!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Win a "Photographer for a Day" Pass

As I begin preparing to cover the Family Circle Cup this week, I wanted to let you all know you could bid on a press pass to shoot with me and the other professional photographers as a Photographer for a Day. "The 2008 Family Circle Cup has selected the Center for Women as its charity of choice for the third consecutive year. The following activities and auctions are designed to raise money and awareness for the Center for Women... The proceeds will fund many of this organization's important programs." Don't worry, it wasn't MY IDEA to put this ugly mug on the auction site. But the money goes for a really great cause. And there's tons of other cool items in the auction as well. So start bidding!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Grandma & The Grandkids

Cami's brother and his family were in town visiting this week from Ohio. Too bad they have to head home today. :-( We had a great time touring the town, playing card games (which Kristin won EVERY time), and getting schooled on the computer game "Rock Band" by Andrew. Last night we had a fun impromptu photo session and here's one of the fun ones with "Grandma". :-)


I had the privilege of photographing the Charleston Regional Business Journal's "40-Under-40" again this year. "The Forty Under 40 Awards recognize business people under the age of 40 who balance bottom line results with a desire to participate in charitable and community activities." I get to meet a lot of really neat people through this project. This is Kristin Kuhlke, owner of Cupcake. Although you might imagine her with a pink apron on, during her off time she enjoys building projects of all kinds. :-) Her enthusiastic spirit and joie de vivre made the session extra fun. And since cupcakes are becoming so popular at weddings, I've added her information to our Links page of recommended vendors. Next time you're hankerin' for something sweet, stop in her store downtown on King St. for some instant gratification!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April & Marcus

I had SOOO much fun photographing Joey & Crystal's wedding two years ago that I was ECSTATIC when his sister, April, asked me to photograph her wedding too! And my expectations were right on...I had a BALL!!! April got ready upstairs in the Summer House, where the wedding took place. This is such a beautiful location. And the staff there is FANTASTIC! Marcus got ready in an adjacent room. I love that shot of him talking to Thiago, one of his groomsmen who was running REALLY late. After the wedding we went over to Azalea Park for photos in the beautiful gardens. Then it was back to the Summer House for dancing, cake cutting (boy she got him good!!!), and all the other fun events of the evening. As the day came to an end, April & Marcus drove off in this really cool classic car. Click here to see the rest of the photos. The wedding was filled with a diverse group of family and friends. Marcus & his sister are from Puerto Rico. And others came from Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, and even Wisconsin! ;-) It's just INCREDIBLE to see folks from so many different parts of the world come together to celebrate the love and commitment between April & Marcus. CONGRATULATIONS you guys!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Canoe Adventure

We just got back from an AWESOME canoe and camping adventure with our good friends Byron & Kathleen. This has turned into an annual trek for us, picking a new remote location each year. But this was the first time they brought their wonderful daughter, Amelia with them...and she did GREAT! Byron is the mastermind and does all the research to find the cool locations we go to. This year we paddled a 34 mile stretch of the St. Mary's River. Byron is also a big fisherman. But more importantly, as you can see in the last photo he provides me with a good subject to photograph. :-)