Throughout the year there are some sports I cover only once or twice so instead of leaving them out I have decided to show some of my best sports images from random sports. Some of my best photos of the year came from some of these random sports that I normally dont shoot. So while a lot of these sports are far from random for most of you, they are for me.

For the third year in a row I had the pleasure of going up to Aspen, Colorado to shoot the winter X Games for ESPN the Magazine. The whole purpose of the shoot is to come away from the 5 days with just ONE interesting image for them to use as a doubletruck in their next issue. Unlike most events I shoot where it’s all about covering the event from a news perspective, this shoot allows me to be artsy and only go out looking for cool feature type photos, or cool action.

Nikon D300, 80-200mm, 320iso, f2.8, 1/6400th

As a motorsports guy I always have fun shooting the snowmobile racers. The massive air they get over the jumps always makes for cool photos.

Nikon D300, 80-200mm, 320iso, f2.8, 1/8000th

One shot I probably over shoot (because I think it looks cool) is to shoot a wide shot with a nice background or cool sky or something and put the subject in one of the corners of the frame. One thing I have learned long ago is when shooting for doubletrucks under most circumstances you don’t want the subject in the center of the frame because thats where the fold up the magazine (also referred to in the biz as “the gutter”) cuts the photo in half.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/4000th

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 100iso, f10, 1/1250th

One of the signature events for the Winter X Games is the halfpipe snowboarding competition. The half pipe is a giant halfpipe at like a 40 degree angle down the mountain. Media is allowed (sometime) to be on the edge of the halfpipe in front of the crowds all the way down. It is a great shooting spot but its nerve wracking because you are literally in front of thousands of people (and millions of tv viewers) on a super slippery steep incline slope inches away from falling into the half pipe (as well as the idiot hall of fame). But when it works out you can really get some cool shots such as the photo below.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

One of the more unique sports I have ever seen is the mono-skier event at the X Games. Handicapped skiers race the downhill course in specially made ski devices. It just looks odd seeing skiers going over jumps with no legs in these chairs with a single ski on it. Instead of the standard ski poles these racers have little poles with mini skis on them.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1600th

As with any sport I always look for a good spot to shoot from in the event of a crash. I found a decent spot close to the start of the course where there were a bunch of little jumps that seemed to get the skiers all out of shape. A few skiers into the round one of the racers skies came off the bottom of his chair and he crashed very hard.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2500th

My money shot from the weekend came while shooting from the halfpipe. On one side of me was a downhill ski course while on the other side was a downhill snowboarder course. I was going for artsy shots of skiers going over a jump with a nice scenic background but would also turn to the other course to shoot snowboarders going over a jump. One of the snowboarders flew through the air and I shot. Something registered different to me and I thought to myself “did that guy just fly through the air with his pants falling down?” I quickly checked the monitor of my camera and saw my money shot and immediately turned to my assistant and said “I got the doubletruck shot!”  And I did.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/2000th

A few weeks later I was home in Phoenix shooting NBA basketball. Everyone who knows me knows I HATE shooting basketball. I don’t know why other than probably because its very hard to come up with shots that are unique and different from the same crap everyone else shoots. I’d rather just let everyone else shoot the same boring crap and find something better to do with my life. But anyways we all have to shoot things we don’t like. 

For player introductions photographers are allowed on the court and the close up access can allow interesting shots. As the Suns players circled and got pumped up I crouched down low and shot into the circle.

Nikon D300, 12-24mm, 1000iso, f4, 1/320th

I spent a good portion of the game trying slow shutter speed shots. It was mostly a gigantic waste of megapixels but I did come away with one shot I liked.

Nikon D200, 12-24mm, 100iso, f4, 1/20th

 At the golf tournament in Scottsdale I got a photo I liked as a player walked down the fairway alongside a lake with a bunch of different species of birds walking and swimming and flying. Seriously, it looked like a damn bird sanctuary!

Nikon D3, 600mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1600th

While in Daytona, Florida for NASCAR I cruised over to Orlando one evening to shoot Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Orlando Magic. I had never shot Lebron before so my goal was to get some good stock images of him for my archive. I had a remote camera clamped on the pole below the backboard and sat off to the corner of the court. He did a monster dunk over a fallen Magic defender and it made for a pretty cool shot from both cameras.

Handheld camera                                                  Remote Camera

A few weeks later I went up to San Jose, California to shoot the Pacific Rim Championships for gymnastics. With me doing the Olympics this year I needed to spend some time shooting gymnastics so I could get semi proficient at the sport. I gotta say this was the best venue in the world to shoot at with black backgrounds all over the place which made for clean and dramatic looking photos.

Below Nastia Liukin performs on the high bar. 

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

The below shot I noticed while walking form one shooting position to another. There was a spot that lined up with three different events going on in the arena. I stayed there for a few minutes to get a shot with 3 different athletes doing three different events. It made for a really cool and interesting looking photo you don’t often see.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1250th

As I typically try to do at events I snuck into a spot I knew I wasn’t allowed to shoot from and hoped to get a few shots before I was inevitably kicked out. The spot I went to was on the ground below the base of the vault. I knew it would be a cool shot being so up close to the athletes as they flip and spiral through the air. Below Paul Hamm grimaces as he twirls through the air. (Shortly after shooting this I was booted from the area) Great success!

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

A few weeks later I was in Las Vegas shooting the Olympic Trials for wrestling. I found a nice elevated spot with clean backgrounds and spent most the day up there waiting for a good shot. That shot came when T.C. Dantzler was put into a choke hold by Cheney Haight in the 74kg class. His expression is great and the outstretched hand helped fill the frame for me.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th

I also spent some time down low shooting and got a funny shot of Scott Steele reacting as he tried to flip a competitor during his 120kg match.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/640th

I shot a pro wakeboarding event in Phoenix and that made for some pretty fun photos since there was tons of action to shoot.

Below is a shot from the back of the tow boat as a competitor did a rail slide on a floating ramp/grind box. I got real low in the back of the boat to incorporate the water flying from the boat to put an extra layer into the shot.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/2000th

Also while in the tow boat I noticed the big rear view mirror and spent a few minutes shooting into it to see if I could come up with anything cool/interesting.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/1250th

While shooting from the shoreline I put on a big lens and set up to shoot competitors hitting a big jump. One guy lost control of the tow rope and it made for a cool shot as he flew through the air.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f9, 1/2000th

For the next 5 months it was all mainstream sporting events for me but towards the end of the year I got back to shooting stuff I don’t often shoot.


Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/1000th

Just a few days ago I shot a college basketball game set up inside the NFL stadium. Its amazing how small the big stadium made the little court look.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/1600th

While up high shooting the overall shot I noticed the stadium lights reflecting off the shiny court so I hung out there for a bit to shoot some shots with that scene.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 250iso, f2.8, 1/1600th

That ends my random sports photos of the year. Next up in my best of the year blogs is my top Olympic images.

Posted in Basketball, Golf, Hockey, NCAA, NHL, Pocket Wizard, Remote Camera, Sports, Wakeboarding, Wrestling, X Games   | 8 Comments

8 responses to “Best of 2008-Best Random Sports Photos”

  1. Tony says:

    Mark, Classic shots! Do you mind if I cross post a couple of these shots and link them back to your blog? I post on a ski bulletin board that would love the ass crack shot.

  2. Tony,
    As long as you link the post to my blog that is fine. Thank you for asking.


  3. Rodrigo says:


    Again great work. I actually just finished working for the student newspaper and I cant wait to go to an event and try to get as creative as possible. There was really no room for creativity when you’re trying to cover the whole game. You’re work continues to inspire… keep it up.



  4. Great snowboarding shots! Looking forward to the start of the season myself.

  5. It certainly has been a good year! Great work.

    We blogged you at:


  6. Great shots. You seem to play around alot with the ISO setting. I am not good with that. Can you give me any advice? How do you decide the setting? Any upper limit?

    yours Anders

  7. Guy Rhodes says:

    My monoskier crash image is better. And you copied off Snipes with the basketball floor reflection shot. Too bad I wasn’t paying attention when Assman took flight…

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!