March Madness

March Madness in Minnesota is a lot more hockey and a little less basketball. I loved the opportunity I was given to spend this month covering both collegiate and prep games. For the players, this might be the biggest game of their lives. They play with heart and wear their emotions on their sleeves.

Here are a few of my favorite images.

"Wouldn't it Suck if He Got it on Free Throws at the Other End of the Court?"

Yes. Yes, it would...and that is precisely what happened.

A little back story. I have two older brothers, Mark and Ian, who know how to push my buttons. Ian especially. Wait, now I went too far back.

One of my assigning editors emailed me late last week to put me on a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kobe Bryant could surpass Michael Jordan on the all-time scorers list either Friday in San Antonio or Sunday in Minnesota. I paid close attention Friday night to see if the pressure was off of me because Bryant had an incredible night where he scored the 38 points he needed to pass Jordan in one game. He did not.

Now I needed to plan for an unpredictable situation. Would it be a jumper through traffic? A lay up with his back to me? I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic after a nightmare scenario played out in my dream. What if it didn't happen until the second half and therefore he was on the opposite end of the court from my assigned seat? Crap.

Now back to that brother of mine – Ian. We talked on the phone Saturday. I told him I had the "Kobe Game" to cover and all the nightmare scenarios I could think of that would not yield an image. After rambling for a while, Ian piped in, "Wouldn't it suck if he got it on free throws at the other end of the court?" Words escaped me. I muttered nonsensical words and sounds for a while. Free throws. I had forgotten about free throws. Now to go through even more horrible potential scenarios in my head to figure out how I would cover those.

Finally Sunday arrived. On my way to the arena I repeatedly had to tell myself to stop thinking. I knew when I overthink, it shows in my photos. I arrived over two hours early, set up my stuff and checked the seating chart. Wait. Why was I on the opposite side of the court from where I normally sit? The Lakers basket was the other end of the court from me now in the first half and Bryant only had eight more points to go. No. No. No. No. NO. I talked to the media contact. All the other photographers had sent in requests for that baseline the previous week and there was no room for me. Okay. Time to troubleshoot. Where else can I shoot from? Up on the concourse? I went up there to scout it out. It could work, not my favorite, but it could if I had to. There was talk of a couple spots to shoot from in a section just off the court, but no one seemed certain where they were. I went up stairs, down stairs, around the arena. Finally I spotted them. Three rows up, just past the baseline. A quick conversation with the media contact at the Timberwolves confirmed these were the shooting positions. The main issue there was what would happen if the fans in front stood up. A risk I had to take.

During all this running around to find a place to shoot from for the first half, something amazing happened - I finally stopped thinking about the how. How was Kobe Bryant going to score his eighth point of the game. I had no idea, but I knew most likely where I would be shooting it from. I got my gear together, including my laptop, and went to my spot. Because I was no longer on the baseline, I would be able to send images immediately following the milestone from my position. Huge bonus.

Bryant did not play well to start the game. He seemed nervous. As if the moment had gotten to him. I actually thought he might not have the eight points he needed to pass Jordan by halftime. And then all of my panic and laps of the arena because of shooting positions would have been moot. He sat on the bench for a while and when he returned, he was back. The nerves from earlier had vanished.

Not long after it happen. Zach Lavine fouled Kobe Bryant. He had six points already. One free throw ties Jordan. Two free throws and he becomes the third all-time scorer in the NBA. Crap. I took a deep breath and told myself, "Now is when you trust your instincts, Hannah." And so I did.

I went tight for the first free throw, utilizing my 400mm.

 Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I realized quickly I needed to go loose for the second. I needed to give a sense of scene to it. I grabbed my second body with my 70-200mm off my shoulder.

There it was. "Wouldn't it suck if he got it on free throws at the other end of the court?" Yes it would have - if I was not prepared for it.

Another bonus of that raised position? I was above most of the people that walked onto the court during a short break to honor Bryant.

 Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

And that helped - a lot.

 Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Congrats Kobe on making your 32,293rd career point on a free throw. It was an honor to cover, even if I did gain a few more grey hairs in the process.

 MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 14:  of the game on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Lakers defeated the Timberwolves 100-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

When Taking a Chance Pays Off

When I cover a professional football games, there's usually a second photographer I work with. We work as a team to provide Getty Images with the best coverage of the day from multiple angles.

Late in yesterday's game, the New York Jets tied the Minnesota Vikings. The game was headed to overtime. I texted the other photographer to inform him I would stay in behind the Jets if he would stay behind the Vikings. We would be on opposite quadrants of the field. The hope was if there was an interception or break away play, one of us would be in the right place at the right time. 50/50 chance to make THE image.

I sat in the end zone along the Vikings bench sideline and waited and waited. Long enough to start to second guess myself. Then Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater found Jarius Wright. 87 yards later the game was over.

 Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

While I waited, I thought about what lens should be on my second camera body. Do I go with the safe mid-range 70-200mm? or do I take a risk and go wider with the 28-70mm?

 Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I went wide. I took a risk setting up away from the action. If that paid off, I would need a wide. If it didn't pay off, I would need a wide to run out for the hand shakes after the game.

Without having the 70-200mm on a camera, the image I missed was Wright actually crossing into the end zone. Would that have added anything to the story I told with these images? Probably not.

Student Section Feature

Every time I cover a Gopher football game, I hear the student section roar with every big play. And every time I hear that roar, I make a mental note to turn away from the action on the field and photograph the crowd. Then something big happens and that mental note goes out the window with the play at hand.

Yesterday I started looking around for fan features. JACKPOT! Shirtless college students that had painted their bodies to spell M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A.

  AP Photo/Hannah Foslien

AP Photo/Hannah Foslien

Not a bad feature, but I knew there was something more.

Then in the fourth quarter, Minnesota was setting up to kick a 52 yard field goal by Ryan Santoso. They make it – they win. They miss it – Purdue wins. I was already well behind the play, with not enough time to make the 100 yard dash with all my gear. Then I turned around and waited. I was either about to get an image of utter disappointment or complete elation.

 AP Photo/Hannah Foslien

AP Photo/Hannah Foslien

Guess Santoso made that field goal.

Changing Storylines

Some days you just did not bring your A-game for whatever reason. This happened to me on Friday. My Nikon 400mm f/2.8 went in for repairs and caused me to use my 200-400mm f/4 over a four-game series between the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. The 200-400mm is a lens I often use for basketball and hockey, but rarely for baseball. It felt foreign to me in the photo wells at Target Field and did not react the same as my 400. My images felt loose and the added depth of field looked odd. It made me feel awkward and doubt myself.

I still had my job to do and by the end of the eighth inning, I knew the images I would use to tell the story of the game. I felt the take lacked quality images but sometimes that’s what a baseball game gives you — nothing — but you still have to make the best of it and tell the story of the nothingness. Pop fly outs, routine ground outs and the winning run scored on a sacrifice fly ball was what this particular game had given me. The Minnesota Twins scored their four runs in the first three innings and the two runs for the Chicago White sox on two solo home runs in the first inning. From the fourth inning on, it was mundane.

On days like this, sometimes all you need is just one play, one image that can change everything. Glen Perkins of the Minnesota Twins came in to pitch the ninth inning and blew the save. The game was tied 4-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. It was a whole new ball game. The story that I needed to tell with my images was still unfolding in front of my lens. Two pitching changes by the White Sox. Two outs and two men on base for the Minnesota Twins. My stomach was in knots. Would I get THE storytelling image from this game with this unfamiliar lens? Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins hit a single. Adrian Nieto defended home plate as Eduardo Escobar ran, slid and, for some reason, ended up rolling onto his back. Home plate umpire called Escobar safe and the Minnesota Twins celebrated the win. The play was close — so close the umpires officially reviewed it while the Minnesota Twins wrapped up their celebration. The umpires called Escobar safe, again, and I had my one image that made me feel I had brought my A-game that day. An image that would have been much tighter than the 260mm I shot it at if I had had my 400mm. An image that told the story better because of the additional depth of field of the f/4 lens because allowing the viewer see the reaction of the other players and fans in the background. So may be, just may be I will use the 200-400 a little bit more at baseball.

 MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 20:  of the game on June 20, 2014 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the White Sox 5-4 with a walk-off. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** =m#3;=v#3

The Moment Photographs Became Magic for Me

I was five, may be six years old when photographs became magic to me. It all started one day when my dad took me the two or so hours north to Alexandria, Minnesota to visit my grandma. I begged my mum to let me take the camera. After lots of pleading, puppy dog eyes and promising to keep it extra safe — my mom sent us on our way with an old Kodak Star already loaded with a 24 exposure roll of film. Filled with excitement to take photos of my grandma, I held that camera on my lap the all the way there and later, all the way back.

Two hours is a really, really, really long time for a child of that age to sit still. As time went on, I examined the camera. I looked at all the buttons and latches and counters. I turned it on. I turned it off. I turned it back on. Hours of entertainment listening to the buzz as the flash fully charged. My dad, most likely annoyed by the same buzz I loved, told me not to waste the batteries. I would need them to take pictures of my grandma. Back to just looking at it, admiring it. It did not take me long to find the best thing ever! There was this latch on the side! If you pushed up the latch there was a door that would just pop open! It was so much fun. Open. Close. Open. Close. I looked at my dad, this new found entertainment didn’t seem to be wasting batteries or bothering him. Open. Close. Open. Close. All the way to grandmas. All the way back. Open. Close. Open. Close.

My mum came out to meet us as we pulled into the driveway. I told her about all the great pictures I took of my grandma — even though she was camera shy. I hadn’t finished the roll, but we could fix that with a few pictures of her garden and of course, the adorableness that was me. Then I showed her the fun trick I found out about the camera. Open. Close. The smile on her face dropped. That super fun latch that popped open that door? It exposed the film. My mum calmly explained to me that the film was ruined — that film is light sensitive. Confusion rained. A fit was thrown. In the end she agreed to still take the film to get developed to show me the empty frames. I knew this would prove her wrong. The film could not be ruined.

A few days later we picked up the prints. She was right. Brown 4x6 after brown 4x6. All 24 images were just a brown muddy mess. For the second time that week, I heard the explanation of photos being a moment of light captured on the film through the lens. MAGIC. It had to be magic. At least that’s how a five, may be six-year-old me rationalized it. Simple, easy, MAGIC.

This is one of my favorite memories. One I remember every time I depress the shutter release on one of my film cameras. It is the reason I still shoot film. I feel that magic as the film is exposed to light for a moment in time. For reasons unknown, that feeling of magic does not translate when I depress the shutter release on my digital cameras. Perhaps it is the fact there is nothing to hold in my hands afterwards — no film, rarely any prints — just a memory card and an image on a computer screen. Or perhaps it is the constant use motor drive that lessens the magic as I take up to ten frames a second. Whatever the reason, I am glad that that magic I found at a very young age, still influences my work today.

 Joe Mauer signing an autograph for some young fans from few years back shot with my Yashica Twin Lens and Kodak Portra 160

Joe Mauer signing an autograph for some young fans from few years back shot with my Yashica Twin Lens and Kodak Portra 160

The Home Run

Over the last couple nights at Target Field, the ball's been flying out of the park. Six home runs, including a grand slam, in two nights.

As a photographer, I particularly love home runs! Rarely do you have action, jubilation and dejection in the span of a couple minutes the way you do when the ball gets over that outfield wall.

Each home run gives me an opportunity to find a new way to tell a story from the batter to the pitcher to the opposite reactions of both teams to the fans.

Here are a few of my favorite images of home runs over the past couple years:


Hello and welcome to the new PhotoFoslien site. I look forward to sharing my journey as a photographer with you via this blog and site in general. There are new galleries in the works - so make sure you come back soon!