Photo of the Week, Vol. 10

We’re 10 weeks into 2015 and I’ve kept my New Year’s Resolution to write a blog post every week, I think may be a George Record when it comes to Resolutions.  If you didn’t know already, and you should because I know you read my last post, I was in Las Vegas for six days last week photographing the Mountain West Tournament for the conference and the NCAA. 

Photographing a tournament is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.  To begin with, I had to think differently than I usually would as a photojournalist.  My job was to document every coach and player’s impact on the tournament and to capture the emotion and energy of the tournament, meaning I was photographing every player and coach, even if they rode the bench and their was only role was to cheer on their team I still photographed it.  

As one team’s season ended another’s continued.  The tournament ended with the men’s championship between Wyoming and San Diego State.  To reach this point in the tournament both teams had won 4 consecutive games, meaning I had a nice set of images for each player.  As in any form of photography, every subject is different and when it comes to basketball I prefer photographing players that are outspoken and exceptionally emotional (side note: I hated playing against these types of players).  

After the Championship I went through my 115 selects from the tournament and found that I had a take of Wyoming senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. that really showed who he is as a player and a person.  He’s a hard-nosed defender who isn’t afraid to get physical;  he’s focused and knows how to get the job done; he’s not afraid to get in his teammates faces but after all is said and done, he’s just a big lover. He wanted a Mountain West Championship and wanted an invitation to the NCAA tournament and he and his team found a way to get both. Below are my seven images of his impact on the Mountain West Tournament.  

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My experience as a photographer at the Mountain West Conference tournament

A majority of my week was spent in Las Vegas and mostly inside the Thomas and Mack Center. I was there to document the Mountain West Conference tournament for the conference itself. It was the first time I’ve ever been given all-access to an event and I cannot explain how incredible that was. When talking with Justin Tafoya, the other photographer I was working with, we were so grateful for how the conference treated us. They trusted us as professionals and gave us all the resources we needed to create the best photographs – a big and warm thank you to the Mountain West Conference.

Video: My 115 selects in 15 seconds, more text below.

When I arrived in Vegas on Monday afternoon I remembered thinking that after the 19th game I’d be sick and tired of shooting basketball but come Saturday evening and 19 games later I only wanted more. This tournament was special. The Mountain West Conference doesn’t have teams like Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky, instead it has teams like Wyoming and Boise State, teams that have to win their tournament and win five consecutive games in order to make it to the NCAA tournament. With that much on the line, every game was an elimination game and for the seniors in the tournament it meant it could be the last game of their career. When Fresno State guard Cezar Guerrero fouled out against Colorado State I couldn’t keep the tears from forming in my own eyes. Every player in the tournament busted their ass and as a very competitive person myself, I felt for those whose seasons were over.

As one team’s season ended, another team’s season continued, making for beautiful images of beautiful moments, moments that gave me chills and moments that Boise State guard Yaiza Rodriquez described as “some of the greatest (moments) of my life.”

The tournament wasn’t solely focused on basketball, the Mountain West partnered with Goodie Two Shoes, a non-profit that gifts brand new shoes to children in need, and held events before games to fit and gift shoes. Cheerleaders, mascots and pep bands joined in on the fun and made the childrens’ days extra special.

Over the course of the week, I tried to create a diverse body of work. By diverse, I mean a collection of photographs that look cool and still can be used effectively by the conference. To create useful photographs I used light, ultra wide lenses and remotes to capture images that would be impossible with traditional sports photography equipment. Here are several images that used these techniques. As always, planning and patience is critical when using light.

For a portrait of Wyoming’s #1 fan I used a speed light above camera left to get an image that makes him pop instead of blend into the background.

An ultra wide lens capture a SDSU huddle.

An ultra wide lens capture a Wyoming huddle.

A floor remote paired with an ultra wide lens captures a dunk.

In this image I used a speed light with a blue gel on it to balance out the image.

Two lights work in tandem to create an image of player introductions.

As all things have to come to an end (including this blog post), the tournament ended with Wyoming (who won) and San Diego State playing in the Mountain West Conference championship. To begin with, Wyoming is a very talented team and I expect them to make a nice run into the NCAA tournament. They are not the deepest teams but with TV timeouts in tournaments depth isn’t a big problem for many teams. Josh Adams (no. 14), their star guard, is a freak athlete and was very easy to make interesting images of. Like I said earlier, Wyoming had to win five consecutive games to advance to the NCAA tournament so emotions were high, creating some special images. This next series contains images of Wyoming’s games throughout the tournament and finally their victory over San Diego State in the championship.

Josh Adams

Photo of the Week, Vol. 9

It’s 5:00 a.m. and my alarm starts to sound off. Tristan and I are in San Francisco staying at TJ’s apartment. TJ’s a close high school friend that I grew up with, we were lucky enough to have spent the evening before catching up over a few beers at a place called Bus Stop in the Marina district. We get dressed, check to make sure our 150 pounds of wedding gear is all packed and we head out.

San Francisco is real quiet early in morning, the only ones out at this time are those delivering papers and the few that are opening up their coffee shops, much like anywhere else I’ve been. We’re about twenty minutes away from our destination – the Marin Headlands.

The Marin Headlands is probably one of the most picturesque urban lookouts I’ve visited in person. In the distance you have the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline and in the foreground you’re overwhelmed by the splendor of the Golden Gate Bridge connecting the two hilly peninsulas. When we made it to the top of the overlook we had about an hour and a half until sunrise.

I’ve seen hundreds of Golden Gate Bridge images and when something is commonly photographed it typically turns me off creatively but not in this case. That bridge is plain ole’ magical, it’s grandeur is unmatched and both Tristan and I felt like we were dreaming or in some sort of futuristic 4D experience.

We scoped out several vantage points and I found a composition I knew I wanted. Luckily for me whoever lights the bridge did an excellent job so it took just a bit of patience and blam – the sky matched the bridge perfectly, resulting in one of my favorite images I’ve taken.

I’ll be posting more images from the Bay Area to my Instagram (@georgemullinix) and Facebook page ( so give both a follow! A big shout out to my good friends TJ Frank and Emily Nee for showing me around the city!

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Photo Specs:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS (173mm, f/5.6)
Manfrotto Tripod
Manfrotto Head

Using Format