Back in early January, Editor Terry, the fearless commander of the Chelsea Standard and Dexter Leader, floated the idea of having Sports Editor Don write a feature article on me and my business. Both my business and I thought that was an excellent idea, so Don sent me a few questions to answer; I sent back my answers and a few of my favorite pictures, and then I waited for my moment in the ink-stained spotlight. After a few weeks of waiting, I finally got to see the finished product in the Standard this week:
(The photo of me was taken by my good friend Joshua Krieger.)
Don did his best to cast me in a highly positive light early in the article:
Like Eisenstaedt, and many other world-renowned photographers, Strong relies less on the technical and mathematical aspects of photography, and more on the instinctual and intuitive nature of the craft.
“When you don’t have to think about the mechanics of shooting and the basics of photography, you’re free to react in free-flowing situations,” said Strong, who has won first-place sports photography honors the past two years in the Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
He also surprised me by getting quotes from two of the coaches at the high school:
Chelsea Hall-of-Fame baseball coach and Bulldog Athletic Director Wayne Welton said Strong is truly a professional when it comes to photography.
“He’s very client driven,” he said. “From parents, to athletes, to coaches, he will do anything. Service is what the Strong family has always been about. He’s a joy to work with. Burrill is a friend to the whole athletic department.”
Welton said Strong has captured many lasting moments with his camera while covering his ball club through the years.
“He’s followed us to the Final Four (state semifinals) and throughout the seasons,” he said. “Those (photographic) memories last a lifetime.”
Chelsea football coach Brad Bush said he’s amazed with Strong’s skill as a photographer.
“People don’t realize how talented he is,” he said. “Some of his photos are unreal. Burrill puts so much time into taking photos. He gets a lot of unique shots. He has an uncanny way of capturing the moment.”
The rest of the article follows in that vein; I think Don did a great job on it.
Along with the very thorough article, they decided to include six of my favorite photos: five on the front page and one inside. These were the fortunate front-page photos, along with the captions I provided:
One of the reasons I love sports is its incredible depth of emotion; I have a number of compelling images following big wins and big losses, but this one still stands out to me. The Chelsea baseball team had just completed an improbably seventh-inning comeback in a playoff game, and in the resulting bedlam, I caught the look of pure joy on Adam Connell’s face as he celebrated with Dan Augustine.
I’ve been going to the Chelsea demolition derby as long as I can remember, and this was the most spectacular fire I can remember. I happened to have my camera aimed at these two cars in order to catch their impending collision; obviously, it was more than just another collision. The most common reaction to this picture: “It looks like something out of a movie!”
Over the last two years, I’ve made two trips to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA; this image features the interior of the university’s Packer Memorial Chapel. The entire campus is stunning, but this picture remains one of my favorites.
This is a picture of the grave of Amy Schnearle-Pennywitt, an Ann Arbor firefighter who died of injuries she sustained while she was responding to a multi-car pileup on the highway in January 2006. I was involved in that pileup, and her sacrifice is something I’ll never forget.
I took senior portraits for a Chelsea student who is a member of the Chelsea House Orchestra; she wanted pictures with her violin, and along with some of the more normal shots, I decided to try something a little bit offbeat. This image was the result.
And this photo had the inside all to itself:
Sports photography often is the pursuit of the right place and the right time; you never really know when everything is going to come together, but when it does, it’s so much fun … and sometimes a little crazy. In this case, the athlete jumped to block a kick, and when the ball got past her, she spun around in midair to keep an eye on the ball; at that moment, the right place and the right time came together to produce an unlikely image of a soccer player running through the air.