It’s easy for a sports photographer to keep busy with assignments and shooting projects, but for me, it’s important to go beyond the keyword, and even to go beyond photography.
Most photojournalists I know work on special projects: self-assignments done for the joy of the subject, or to keep busy, to have something of their own to shoot and edit.
For me, writing and photography fit together naturally, and so I built a website about New York State’s second-largest park, just an hour outside one of the world’s great population centers.
The state of New York, God love it, has not actively maintained a comprehensive site about all Harriman State Park has to offer — its miles upon miles of trails, its historic, difficult-to-get-to shelters that offer the hiker a place to spend the night, its swimming holes and fishing spots, its many lakes. You won’t even find a trail map there, delineating Harriman’s nearly 200 miles of trails.
I launched MyHarriman.com in July of 2013, and in just under nine months, we’ve grown to add more writers and attract nearly eight thousand unique readers a month. Of those, I’ve often how many are sports photographers coming from New York City.
For the sports photographer: Looking for outdoor active subjects to shoot? Try these sports in Harriman State Park, an hour from New York City:
- Rock climbing/bouldering in the Powerlinez area of the park;
- overnight camping in historic lean-tos;
- ultra marathoning (50 miles through Bear Mountain and Harriman‘s challenging, undulating terrain);
- cyclecross, at the Anthony Wayne Recreation area;
- swimming holes;
- one day marathon hiking (26-mile park traverse);
The overwhelming majority of MyHarriman’s readers come from New York City. They’re mostly young (under 30), and like the millions of park visitors that have been coming to the park since the turn of the century, they’re seeking to escape the hurried pace of the city with a hike or a picnic, or something more challenging.
I like to spend a day, or a few days in the park, working on stories for the site, photographing the peaceful beauty of the fields and upland hardwood forests, the hemlock ravines. A photographer can find rich subjects within the park’s acreage, because Harriman’s rich in both natural beauty and human history, the stories of its visitors printed in archived editions of The New York Times, or etched on the walls of its lean-tos.
Photographers, I think, need to be writers too, especially given the importance of written content to search engine optimization. We caption and we keyword, but we also need to find the kernel of the subject and write about it, with an eye trained on the details.