Social Media (SM) Opens Doors at SI

My Klout is admirable. I'm not famous and I know I don't have a lot of followers, likes, pins, favourites or retweets. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to communicate on social media (SM) and more grateful for the opportunities it creates. Please join me on my journey to Sports Illustrated, NYC.

Instagram @bradpix “The wonderful Robin Wilson of @aerialpromotions stopped by for a visit today. Happy to have her spend some time with us, hope she can shoot for us this summer.” & on Twitter [symple_social icon="twitter" url="https://twitter.com/BradSmithSI/status/444179226892455936/photo/1" title="Brad Smith Twitter" target="self" rel=""] from @BradSmithSI. 

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[symple_box color="green" text_align="left" width="100%" float="none"] The Lead Up [/symple_box] I joked about a year ago when I said Sports Illustrated (SI) is going to love this photograph. You may have heard the awkward laugh, but deep down I crave ambition to pursue this starlight fantasy. Here I am on my dream journey to NYC to meet with the Sports Illustrated Director of Photography (DOP), Brad Smith.

Twitter and Instagram is where we connect. It is important to be consistently aware and share great information for people to follow. I’m always trying to improve my photography skills and attend many conferences. KelbyOne/Photoshop World (PSW) is my favourite. I have met one-on-one with many professionals who have given me phenomenal advice (My Posts: Dave Black, Bert Monroy, Peter Hurley, Jack Reznicki, Catherine Hall and Scott Kelby)

As I blog about my experiences and post images, a direct message comes through twitter. This is an engagement that I embrace and want to develop a relationship like Brad says, "A healthy marriage between editor & photographer".

Brad asks, “When are you coming to NY?”  OK…put yourself in my shoes. Brad is the Director of Photography for Sports Illustrated. He is the SI cover guy….Yeah that guy!..Theeeeeee Guy! When I shared my news with friends I got the sarcastic, “yeah right” attitude.

I continued to post and work hard at being a better photographer. Brad acknowledges on my SM some of my family portraiture, ambiance and action. Speaking of shoes, one of my favourite @Bradpix post is Seattle Seahawk pumps on the sideline at the Superbowl.   I also enjoy it when he posts the latest SI covers fresh off the press on Instagram @bradpix and his Gator play by play action on Twitter @BradSmithSI. The relationship continues and I enjoy bantering online at the Team Canada hockey jabs in Sochi. BTW=“GOAL’D” 

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So when Brad says he has football playoffs-The Superbowl in January, then The Olympics in Sochi, Russia for February and wants you to pick a date to meet…pick a day and wish upon a star to make it happen. 

[symple_box color="green" text_align="left" width="100%" float="none"] The Trip [/symple_box]

The flights were cancelled and the weather was the worst we have ever driven in [ http://instagram.com/p/ldGrSSS5AW/ ]. It took almost 13hrs to get to NYC because the New York State Thruway was closed due to accidents and poor weather conditions.

Over the last month my workload has been extensive, but most rewarding. I have put in over excessive work hours and drove thousands of miles to expand my portfolio. Coming from the land of Tim Hortons, I really needed a coffee, but unfortunately another roadblock [http://instagram.com/p/ldOr6Dy5Na/].

White knuckles we keep driving. Due to the weather and dizzy GPS, we don’t know our ETA. We do know that if we travel East we won’t go in circles anymore. Yes it was that bad!

To have a great support system when following your dreams is heartfelt. My parents up in Northern Canada Cottage Country are entertaining the kids, my husband is determined to drive straight through the storm just to get me to my meeting on time, friends reach out on social media (SM) for encouragement and photography colleagues assist me on final details of my portfolio.

[symple_box color="green" text_align="left" width="100%" float="none"] The Meeting [/symple_box]

Excited and nervous to say the least. After a couple of hours of rest, I work on portfolio B-C-D…just in case Brad wants to see more. A few points that resonate with me in Youtube video “How to Edit Your Photos with Brad Smith” : 

Look for the peripheral things going on and encompass the whole game…even the portrait of a player on the sideline…it’s important to tell the whole story and include them in your portfolio. Keep shooting even when the play ends or when no one around you is working!

What do you want to show me? What do you want to do? I want to do it all, but I need to impress Brad with my action photography. Although I know I would love to do feature work too (Like Robert Caplin). There is limited time and I really need to show him what I want to do...ACTION game photography.

Show your best work first…Images you can’t take your eyes off. Because portfolio reviews are based on judgment, many people have different opinions. I have had the some of the finest people in the industry assist me in choosing the best images for my portfolio. Now I have my most important sports photography review of my career.

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I am about to enter the Time & Life Building in New York City to meet with Brad Smith, Director of Photography Sports Illustrated. I was a half hour early after security. There was a gentleman from an advertising agency who does work for InStyle, People, Time and SI. We had a nice conversation in reception. When I arrived at SI, two fun loving characters met me at the front door.  They rolled out the red carpet and loaded me down with some fabulous reads.

Brad starts the conversation with his gratitude for coming down to NYC to meet with him. If anything I would fly over the moon for an opportunity like this. After I tell him about our travels, he expresses his appreciation to share with my husband for driving through the storm. He is such a compassionate man.  We then chat about our children and a little bit about the business. “Let’s get started…Show me what you got!”

[symple_box color="green" text_align="left" width="100%" float="none"] The Critique [/symple_box]

What resonates with me when I watch Brad review my images is how he emphasizes with the athlete. “More head trauma, only if they knew what they know now, unfortunately it makes a great shot.” Because I was trying to show my ability to capture prime action, many of the portfolio images were of collisions or impact.

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Brad then says, “Another great shot of a defender…there should be more of it.” I’m starting to understand that Brad want’s to see unique images and not what he sees come across his desk everyday.  He does mention that SI still needs the portrait of the QB and the story image.

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Brad seemed to enjoy my basketball night portrait the most. I have an entire collection of dunks and fun basketball portraiture that I would love to expand on. I actually feel it is my specialty above the rim, below and through the net [see more]. The Indiana gym photo- although Brad zoomed right into the garbage can-facial expression, general ambiance and frozen motion make him smile. “This is a great shot.”

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I feel I should have shown more variety in my photography. I have it, I just didn’t build my 20 images with this in mind for the initial portfolio review. Brad is a very busy person, but was generous with his time to see more.  Brad suggests that I shouldn’t show all my action cropped-tight with a 400. He acknowledges that I can shoot action, but to try a new perspective by lens or angle to make a more interesting image. Did I mention that I rock the fisheye!

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Now I’m beating myself up a bit because I didn’t show that one picture because I didn’t know he wanted to see it. I have the hardest time choosing. I was a little nervous, showed too much, possibly over processed a vignette on one image and even went into the wrong portfolio.  I wanted to show him my composites too, but focused on action. I over prepared. Brad wants to see me tighten up the portfolio. Live and learn, but what a time to have a teaching moment when you only have one shot….Literally! OK let's lighten it up a bit with some Dundas Blues Hockey Bobbleheads...

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Sometimes you need to feel failure in order to succeed. I still felt at ease because Brad has the most wonderful, kind and sincere demeanor about him. I think the title purely “Authentic” in front of his name is justified.

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He asks me, “What do I want?” A question that stimulates an electrifying response, “I want to shoot for you!” If you need someone to cover any Canadian events or Detroit or Buffalo…as a take a deep breath…The Pan Am Games are coming to Toronto and the NBA All Star Game soon. Brad explains the process and what SI will cover. OMG, then I hear, SI will get you credentials to shoot for us at the Pan Am Games. We will run a section and you can cover the Pan Am Games for Sports Illustrated. I am giddy like a schoolgirl, but trying to contain myself. I now have the most perfect opportunity to prove myself as a Sports Illustrated photographer. I have access to 36 sports with 7000 athletes in my own backyard venues. I can research, practice and prepare the most unique photographic images I have ever done. Most importantly I will be able to capture these elite athletes at a prime moment in their athletic career as I fulfill mine.

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Another gentleman comes to visit, Chris Chambers. Brad introduces us and explains Chris was an editor for Getty and edits the NBA, NFL and Motorsports for SI. We go into the boardroom and chat a bit about the industry. I then start to show Chris some of my photographs, more specific to football and basketball. Chris advises me that it’s about access and what is available to you.  He said, even though you are shooting amateur sports you are taking great photos. Hearing him say, “No doubt you can shoot” makes me so happy. Chris than spoke to me about layers. Everyone has a purpose to make the photo better. Fans create the energy; band makes you move, coaches direct the game and so on. Chris says he want’s to see the one blade of grass in the forefront of the photo leading up to the action and then the crowds reaction. I need to be responsible for everything in the shot. Even when the shot's not clean try to make it a part of the story. This conversation was very inspiring because I want to emote this in my photography always.

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Today as I review my photographs with fresh eyes, I understand how I can make my portfolio better.  I want to intrigue the viewer and make them stay in the moment- frozen in time. I want them to see something different, build an emotion through the layers and not take their eyes off my photograph. I am not afraid to fail, but anxious to experiment and achieve greatness in my photography. THANK YOU Brad!

My portfolio is always a work in progress! To view more photographs visit 500px or Behance  (Update in Progress)

A huge shoutout to all the amateur athletes who give it everyday, CIS, OCAA, OUA and McMaster football who allow me to capture the good, bad and the ugly. Thank YOU to all of my friends, family and colleagues who support me. I am very grateful for my young athlete followers and will always keep it real. Thanks for all the retweets, likes, favs and your encouragement. I want my kids and husband to be proud of me and love them for joining me on my special journey. Check out some of my colleagues great work. I appreciate the help with my portfolio selects: Matt Hernadez, Brandon Taylor, Scott Thomas, Hamilton Scores-Denis LeBlanc & Sean Healey.

I LOVE BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER! How bout a reality series for photographers like America's/Canada's Next Top Model EH?

TAG US #aerialpromotions @aerialpromotions #presentitphoto @presentitphoto

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Blue Star Ontario Basketball

Hamilton is a hotbed for basketball in Ontario. Our own local basketball hero's begin their NCAA basketball career Fall 2014: Amira Gianatassio- Mount St. Marys, MD-The Mount, Christina Buttenham-University of Iowa-Hawkeye’s, Hilary Hanaka-University of Vermont-Catamounts and Kia Nurse-University of Connecticut-Huskies.

The energy this year regarding the accolades of Andrew Wiggins has been invigorating. Of course, my favorite is the front cover of Sports Illustrated [Cover-Story]! This past summer Natalie Archonwa of Notre Dame took some quality time to speak with our young aspiring basketballers [Read full story here]. Toronto will be hosting its very first NBA all star game in 2016 [ESPN-NBA].  Needless to say there is a lot of basketball planning going on in the next few years. 

I am very excited to be involved with development and advancement of our young athletes in the future of sports. When some of the biggest basketball advocates offered the opportunity to assist in a new elite basketball program how can I resist! [Blue Star Ontario Brochure-Photography & Design by Aerial Promotions]

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Canada Drive is expanding and rebranding as Blue Star Ontario. The new programming and partnership with Blue Star Basketball will provide athletes with unprecedented levels of development and exposure. Website: http://canadadrivebasketball.com | Twitter: @CanadaDrive | Facebook: CanadaDriveBlueStar

Blue Star Basketball – http://www.bluestarbb.com Blue Star Basketball is the longest running national evaluation and college showcase organization in women’s basketball.  Many of the top AAU programs from all over the United States play under their banner. Blue Star Ontario will be their first international affiliate. The partnership will ensure Blue Star Ontario teams will have: • Greater NCAA exposure through Blue Star Media • Increased branding within the recruiting community • Access to some of the best AAU tournaments throughout the US • Priority seeding and scheduling for AAU tournaments • Stronger relationships with other clubs and sponsors already associated with Blue Star Basketball • Teams will be outfitted in Nike Product AAU Teams Blue Star Ontario will offer two types of AAU travel teams every spring and summer. Blue Star Ontario Elite Exposure will be running teams from 12U-17U.  These teams will be focused on developing skills and gaining exposure.  They will be attending many of the top USJN tournaments throughout the summer.  Please visit  http://canadadrivebasketball.com website for the full 2014 schedule.

Canada Drive Elite Development For the younger age groups Canada Drive will be running teams with a greater emphasis on skill development and gaining experience playing against American competition.  There will be teams from 10U-14U with some of the top players also participating on the 12U-14U Elite Exposure teams.

All of the Canada Drive teams will be selected in part by recruiting the best talent available and also tryouts to find any undiscovered talent.

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Development Camps

While expanding our AAU program Blue Star Ontario will provide athletes with further development opportunities throughout the calendar year. We have designed several camps that can supplement what athletes are already doing through their club season.  We are pleased to announce three camps starting in January. Visit our website for all the details or contact Coach Nate McKibbon nathanmckibbon@hotmail.com with questions.

Last year was a banner year for Canada Drive with several of our athletes accepting scholarships to many of the top American and Canadian universities. Blue Star Ontario looks forward to continuing that tradition and to a fantastic 2014 season. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding our programs.

Richard Nurse, Program Director canadadrive95@gmail.com

Nate McKibbon, Associate Director nathanmckibbon@hotmail.com

Download Blue Star Ontario Brochure: BlueStar Ontario Brochure Design and Photography by Aerial Promotions

Sports Illustrated-Oh to DREAM BIG!

I have to thank Brad Mangin's Tweet to be able to share this with all of you!

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