2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic pitting North Carolina vs. Michigan State aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson docked in the harbor at San Diego, CA. Photo by John W. McDonough / Sports Illustrated

There was an immense amount of work for this picture to be made.  Going through security at a military base is difficult enough, let alone having the President attend the game with the Secret Service checking and rechecking.  Days of planning, permission for remotes and carrying heavy cases up several flights of stairs (Thank God for Shawn Cullen and his determined efforts, assisting at very challenging location!)

After hours of setting up, inspection, anxiety concerning an upcoming rain storm, and the President taking a seat court side, the game began. At almost the same time, the gray overcast clouds broke and the sun painted it magic in the West (which was the direction I was photographing from).  All North Carolina and Michigan State had to provide was some good, solid action... like right now!  Shooting available light, the sun, the sky, the TV lights, all combined to make something special. So, all it took was perseverance, the incredibly hard work of a professional, knowledgeable assistant, patience, and some luck (which favors the prepared on occasion) and you make a memorable photograph.

If you happen see something unique in the sky, or with the lights, or maybe a last second touchdown on a Monday night game with five or six players leaping for the ball, go medium focal length or wide angle.  Take a chance.  It just might turn out to be the best decision of the year!

John W. McDonough

John W. McDonoughJohn McDonough attended Arizona State where he says he learned so much from National Geographic photographers and award winning photojournalists who visited ASU on a regular basis...as well as through a committed involvement with the NPPA with their various workshops and contests. He worked for the LA Times San Diego County edition from 1978-1982 and has been a contributing and then staff photographer for Sports Illustrated for more than 30 years covering a variety of sports including several Olympic games. 

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