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A Fresh Start

Stephen Szurley, Golf Digest MagazineA new beginning.  A fresh start.  Out with the old.  In with the new.

You’ve heard the sayings…  I have too.  I didn’t know what it meant until I burned or trashed photos from the 2001 Super Bowl that I photographed in Tampa.  The spring training baseball games I photographed in Lakeland, Tampa and Kissimmee for a stock agency, for free…  The PGA Tournaments in Orlando.  The Orlando Magic games I photographed.  The Footvolley event I photographed in Miami for ESPN the Magazine.  The outdoor bowling I photographed in the Villages for Sports Illustrated.  Stock golf photos of my buddy Casey Bourque.  A waterskiing event in Orlando.   A women’s soccer match in Philly with Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm.  Bucs Games.  Eddie Adams Workshop. slides.

I threw it out.  Or, I watched it burn.

It’s sitting on the curb right now actually… there’s still time.  I could go out and save it, but I’m not going to.

It feels good.

A lobster sheds its skin.  So does a snake.  So does a photographer.

I noticed slides from a Golf Magazine assignment from a while ago.   I sucked.  It was to photograph Australian PGA Tour players Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby.  I was probably 23 years old.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Allenby and Appleby are best of friends.  They’re Australian and play on the PGA Tour together.  After their practice round at Bay Hill, I photographed them sitting in chairs alongside of the 18th hole.  My punk 23 year old ass said, ” the editors said you’re best friends, I need some funny photos of you two together”  Allenby responded, “we’re friends mate, not lovers.”

I only saved my favorites.

I’m growing as a photographer.   It’s time to let go of the past.  I saved my selects.  But the rest will be picked up in the trash pile tomorrow, before you read this.

I had several boxes sitting in a closet for 10 years.  Some were older.

I found (and kept) a cherished photo of myself and Golf Digest Senior Staff Photographer Stephen Szurley from the 1997 Doral Ryder Cup PGA Tournament.  After graduating from Hallmark Institute in 1996, I cold called the Golf Digest magazine in late 1996 and told them I was visiting a friend in Lakeland, Florida during the Florida PGA swing.  A gentleman answered, took my name and phone number, and said that if any of their photographers needed help, they’d contact me. I was 19.   I wasn’t expecting a phone call.  This was before cell phones.  The number I left him was for my parents.  While in Lakeland, my parents called me.  Said a Golf Digest photographer called, his name was Stephen “Girley, Murley, Zurly or Turly, and he needed a hand in Miami for the PGA tournament.”  I had the time of my life.  Not only did I see my first Canon 600 f4, but I carried it like my life depended on it for several days.  Tiger Woods’ caddy told me to be steady.  Mr. Szurley introduced me to his friends, including Jacueline Duvoisin, who really liked my name.

My stack of photos was like a diary.  Photos of Joe Paterno, Kerry Collins, motorcycle racing, fishing in Maine, July 4th fireworks in Philadelphia and field hockey at Princeton, just to name a few others.

You have a few hours to pick them up on the curb, if you’re interested!

Follow Cy Cyr on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps for Golf Channel

Were you watching the 2012 Olympics too? After Michael Phelps won a record number of gold medals, a promo came on TV about him appearing on the next Hank Haney project on Golf Channel. A light bulb immediately went off.  I wanted to photograph Michael Phelps’ golf efforts.

I could only assume that the footage had not been created yet, given Michael’s Olympic schedule. I texted my Golf Channel contact and offered my photography services for the show. They would need behind the scenes pictures, portraits, show openers, end pages, etc. My text was acknowledged.

I got a text a few weeks later while I was on the 17th green at Sawgrass in Jacksonville. “What are you doing the month of October, and do you have your passport?” I responded that “this sounds interesting, I have my passport, and what’s up?”  She responded, “Phelps is going to Scotland, China and Vegas, more soon.”

I got pretty excited. When you’re a photographer, plans are created all the time. Throughout the years, I’ve learned not to share much information about exciting jobs because they change so much. Maybe they’re delayed or canceled entirely. Some of the common reasons are that the subject has changed plans, the client went with a different story or the budget. A good time to share info is after it actually happens!

I made it to one of those locations to photograph Michael, but didn’t need a passport. The video and stills for his show opener were done at TPC Las Vegas in late October.  The golf course was in great shape, and the views were fantastic.  Michael hit a bunch of golf balls on the range, chatted with the crew, hit some putts and delivered some lines for the show open.  We spent 2 hours with the greatest Olympian of all time.

I lit Michael for this portrait above with a Profoto 7B and medium soft box.  Michael was standing under a 10′ scrim to keep the sun off of him.  I had the lighting crew spin a HMI 5K around to give him the rim light.

Since I keep a portfolio on my phone, I was able to show Michael a picture from the first time I photographed him.  Athletes always seem to remember where and when a picture of themselves was taken.  He immediately zoomed into the goggles he posed with in the photo. He got the year correct, and I helped him with the location of the blue wall I used as a background at the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

I also photographed Michael’s appearance in the Sarasota, Florida area.  Michael played Laurel Oak Country Club on February 20, 2013, then went to the Orioles spring training camp on the following day.  Michael played 18 holes with Haney and a film crew.  The beautiful golf course was chosen because of its proximity to the Orioles camp, and its private facilities.

The Orioles welcomed Phelps and Haney with open arms the following day.  They took batting practice, got a tour of the facility, met with head coach Buck Showalter and signed autographs.  It’s always interesting to see a pro athlete signing an autograph for another pro athlete.  Late in the day at the Orioles camp, a clubhouse employee went up to see Phelps in a blue Speedo, and asked him to race in the pool.  It got quite a few laughs!

Here’s a gallery of my Michael Phelps images on GolfChannel.com.

Be sure to watch the Hank Haney Project with Michael Phelps on Golf Channel!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sportsphotographer and Facebook.

Michael Phelps

Michael PhelpsMichael PhelpsMichael PhelpsMichael PhelpsMichael Phelps