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Students Shoot Stars in Alum-Led Sports Photography Workshop at US Open

Six photograph tennis greats, tour US Open media facilities

Six students in the sports communication and media graduate program attended an all-day photography workshop at the US Open in Queens, N.Y., last summer.

Students photographed live qualifying matches and practice sessions with top pro players Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Jelena Janković. Nikon USA and New York City’s B&H Photo Video supplied camera gear for the students to use during the workshop.

“My favorite part of the day was having the chance to shoot some of the greatest tennis players to ever play the game and to do it while gaining the experience and skills to produce beautiful images,” says Sean Elliott of New Haven, who is pursuing a master’s degree in multimedia digital journalism and aspires to be a photojournalist. “It has always been a dream to shoot tennis because most of the players today are guys who I have looked up to while playing my own tennis matches.”

The workshop was led by Chris Nicholson, a photographer and writer who attended SHU as a media studies major from 1989 to 1994. Nicholson, a former editor for Tennis magazine, has covered the sport for 20 years and is the author of the book Photographing Tennis (Sidelight Books, 2012).

“I’m very glad to be able to give back to the university in some way, and I don’t think this could have gone better,” Nicholson says. “I was very impressed with how engaged the students were. They were all focused on the opportunity and on learning new things. And they asked a lot of great questions about everything from technical details and technique to business issues and general tips for working in sports media. This is a group that I’m sure SHU will be proud of in the years to come.”

The students also toured the US Open media facilities with Mark Preston, who attended SHU in the 1980s and now serves as senior director of corporate communications for the U.S. Tennis Association, which organizes and hosts the tournament. The tour brought the group through the US Open media room, which serves 1,000 credentialed reporters and photographers from more than 50 countries; the photographer’s facilities; the photo pit on Arthur Ashe Stadium; and the interview room used for post-match press conferences.

Afterward the group photographed live matches, learning about composition, timing for action photos and how to use varying light at different times of day.

Chuck Scott of Lebanon, N.H., who just completed his master’s in sports communication and media, says he appreciates that the university has the alumni resources to organize these types of opportunities. “Many programs have faculty and staff who once worked in related fields, but the ability to bring in industry professionals to do workshops at the school or on-site at well-known sporting events is an advantage that can’t be beat,” he says. “It is an all-encompassing circle that allows a tight-knit community to lift each other up to realize their highest potential.”

That sentiment is echoed by Professor Andrew Miller, SHU’s director of Sports Communication and Media. “Our program is committed to providing students with a wealth of opportunities to develop their skills as sports media professionals,” Miller says. “We were thrilled to send our students to shoot sports photography at the US Open under the guidance of Chris. This kind of real-world production experience is an integral part of our graduate program and a great complement to the classes in our state-of-the-art brand new broadcasting studios on our Fairfield campus.”

As one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open is a premier event in the tennis season and one of the largest sporting events in the world.