Welcome to my blog! From time to time, I'll be posting updates, previews from games and sessions or whatever I feel like talking about on here! :-)
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds everyone well. Been a while since my last entry, but it’s been hard finding the words after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in late August. While I was fortunately enough to not personally be affected, the suffering that others went through and have gone through was not lost on me. I certainly hope that everyone who has been affected by this is on the road to recovery.
Anyways, with October here, football season is in full swing among other things, and I’ve been hitting all over town shooting the Houston Texans, Rice University and the University of Houston. One of the games I’ve shot was the 2017 Bayou Bucket game between Rice and UH, and while the game was essentially over by halftime, it did bring back memories of the 2007 Bayou Bucket game between the Cougars and Owls, which was played 10 years ago today. It was a game that I will remember fondly for a myriad of reasons.
A quick summation: On a sunny Saturday afternoon at old Robertson Stadium, the Houston Cougars and Rice Owls battled each other in a game that saw nearly 1,200 yards of combined offense and 15 touchdowns between the two teams. Houston jumped out to a 28-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, only to see Rice battle back across the second and third quarters, scoring 34 of the game’s next 41 points. The Owls held a 48-35 lead heading into the final quarter only to see the Cougars roar back, both literally and figuratively, scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win, 56-48. (Oh, and for Cougar football buffs, it should come as no surprise that the comeback win was led by the legendary Case Keenum, but I digress LOL) For anyone watching the game in the stands, it was a heart-stopping affair with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride. But for me shooting the game, it was unlike anything I had experienced in my young career, at the time. (Oh a quick side note, it also was memorable because I covered the entire game while dealing with a sinus infection that left me bed-ridden the day before. )
Back in 2007, I was still trying to make a name for myself and was unsure of a real direction and purpose in photography. While certain jobs were enjoyable, I had no clue if this was something I wanted to do, long-term, and on a higher level. But this game was such a spark for me, a spark that changed my entire outlook and purpose going forward. Shooting that game and getting the images that I did, it convinced me that this is something I wanted to do long-term. And that desire got into me, like a highly addictive substance.
I’ve always regarded this game as the greatest college football game I’ve ever covered thus far, and a whole decade later, it still rings true for me. It wasn’t just an intense and memorable game, it was the game that led me to be a devotee to photography and set me on the path to where I am now. I do wish it wasn’t as expensive as narcotics at times, but that’s a rant for another day. Point is, just stay true to your hopes and goals, no matter the roads they lead to. It may take a decade to get to where you want, but keep walking the path and you WILL get there.
With that, I thank you for your attention and support. I hope to have another entry ready by November. Thank you for your time, and fare thee well. One last note, this blog entry is dedicated to my late grandfather, Connell Linson, Sr. Without your gratitude, kindness and generosity, I wouldn’t have become the professional I am now, and days like that sunny October day a decade ago wouldn’t have been possible.
All images copyright 2007 Erik Williams
Greetings and salutations all, I hope this finds everyone well. It's been a very hot summer down in Southeast Texas and busier than usual for me, so I hadn't been able to keep up with the blog until this week. There hasn't been much to share since the last week of May, when I made my annual pilgrimage out to Sugar Land, TX for the Southland Conference Baseball Championship tournament at Constellation Field. This was the third straight year and fourth in the last five that I covered the tournament as the Southland's photographer, and it was a job that I'd been looking forward to once again. And I was a tad smarter this time around, securing a second shooter for some of the action on Thursday and Friday. Unlike the 2016 tournament, this year's action was not marred at all by the weather, which was great. The only issue with the weather was the heat and the crappy air, which contributed to my allergies flaring up like crazy. It sapped my strength and hindered me for the first two days, but thanks to some Claritin-D, Benadryl and a little bit of help from one of my associates, covering the action on Friday and Saturday was much better.
Anyways, the on-field action was as intense as ever with conference and personal storylines abound, such as the return of the Houston Baptist Huskies to the Southland tournament (two years after winning the title) or the top two seeds (McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana) getting beaten before Friday's semifinal games. Strangely enough, the one team that flew under the radar from the outset was the Sam Houston Bearkats, the defending Southland Champions. Despite being the third seeded team, they were ultra confident as they easily won their first three games to advance to the championship final. In the title game, the Bearkats faced off against the Central Arkansas Bears, who were Southland champions themselves in 2013. Riding an early flurry of runs, Sam Houston outgunned the Bears to win the final and repeat as Southland tournament champions, advancing to the NCAA tournament (eventually making the Super Regional round).
Overall, despite my allergies not cooperating early on, I think I had the best tournament in my four times shooting the Southland Championships. The adulation and such from the various SIDs and the Southland media officials was always good, but I felt internally accomplished as well. It’s always satisfying to have a plan of attack, executing it and seeing the results come to fruition.
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for this entry. Many special thanks to the Southland communications staff and Maria Lysaker for their tireless assistance. Thanks for reading and as always, fare the well!
All images copyright 2017 Erik Williams/Southland Conference Media Relations
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds everyone well. I am sorry I haven’t had any blog entries to start 2017, but things have been rather crazy for me the last four months. And that craziness is thanks to a lot of basketball I had to cover in March, and a certain playoff game in April, but I’ll get to that later.
Basketball season is always an exciting time for me, because it’s my favorite sport to shoot, but this year I had a bit more action to cover from March onwards. In March, both Rice University basketball teams made it into postseason play, resulting in six extra games that I covered at Tudor Fieldhouse in the space of twelve days. While it got personally draining towards the end of that stretch, it did result in some pretty cool images from the action. Anyways, the men’s team had a good run in the CBI tournament, defeating San Francisco before falling to Utah Valley State. Meanwhile, the women’s team competed in the WBI tournament and ended up winning the title with victories over Lamar, UT-Rio Grande Valley, Idaho and UNC-Greensboro. I am confident that the two tournament runs will be the start of great things over on South Main for the Owls.
After the completion of Rice’s tournament play, I was fully expecting to be done with basketball until November. Then the NBA playoffs started, and I was assigned to cover Game 2 of the series between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I was hovering between excited and being petrified, not from shooting an NBA game, but shooting an NBA playoff game featuring both James Harden and Russell Westbrook, two of the three leading candidates for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Anyways, the game was rather entertaining as the Rockets won the game, despite trailing by as many as 14 points. While Westbrook had the bigger night (51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds), Harden (35 points) came away victorious as the Rockets won 115-111 to take a 2-0 series lead. Houston eventually won the highly-anticipated series, 4-1 to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to for the first four months of the year, covering all the burning hardwood across town. (And may not be done yet, who knows.) Thank you for viewing and for your time, have a wonderful day and, until next time, fare thee well.
All images copyright 2017 Erik Williams/Rice Sports Information/USA Today Sports Images
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds you all well. Things have been rather calm for me as of now. I say “as of now” because August-November was a very stressful period for me with the bulk of football, volleyball and soccer seasons all going on at once. But now that football is over, at least for me, it’s time for basketball season. And that’s where I do shine in terms of sports photography, as I am a basketball lifer, having grown up around the game in the 80s.
Shooting basketball has always been enjoyable for me, but not only am I shooting college basketball this winter, I’m also shooting professional basketball. The NBA, the National Basketball Association, more specifically, the Houston Rockets. Shooting the Rockets was always an outside goal of mine, having done it twice in 2007, but I didn’t think it would be possible due to many factors. But this year, thanks to my association with USA Today Sports, the opportunity arose to start shooting a select number of Rockets games this season. Needless to say, I was elated to be offered the chance to shoot NBA games, since that had been a goal of mine, really, the final goal of mine in a while. But I was nervous about it as well, hoping to do a good job.
My first game was on November 12 against the San Antonio Spurs. Yea, my first Rockets’ game in nine years was a home matchup against the Spurs, one of the best teams in the league. It turned out to be a pretty entertaining game as San Antonio ended up winning, 106-100. In terms of the photos, I think I could have done better in terms of capturing the action. But for not having shot an NBA game in nearly a decade, I think I did a serviceable effort.
Five days later, I was back at the Toyota Center as the Rockets hosted the Portland Trailblazers. Regarding the game, it was a bit more entertaining as the Rockets used a spurt in the third quarter to pull away from Portland, 126-109. Regarding the pics, I was a lot more comfortable as I knew what to expect this time around, thus the photos were stronger. Regardless, I felt good about the two games I’ve covered this far, and am optimistic regarding future Rockets games this season.
Shooting the Rockets again has been a real experience, and considering it was the one sports team that I didn’t regularly cover until now, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. It’s an achievement that is a good way to cap off the last 27 months in my professional life. But now that December is here, I’m thankful for some quiet time. Granted, there’s still basketball on tap, but not much else, and I’m glad things can slow down for a little while. Now that things have slowed down, I’ve taken stock on a lot of things, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am and done what I’ve done without a strong edict towards hard work and exerting control. And that’s the key to making it through life. Believing in God, having a positive attitude and holding joy in your heart is all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day, all that can’t supersede hard work. If you have a goal, attain it via hard work because no one is going to just give it to you. That may be pretty hard and unyielding, but considering where I’ve been in my life and the lows I’ve crashed to, it’s necessary, and it makes the successes I now enjoy all the sweeter.
With that said, thank you for reading another colorful blog entry. I wish to thank you all for your support this year and in years’ prior. And a VERY special thank you to my dearest friends, Michelle Miller, Jennifer Sacco, Helen Laird, Kerri Rapp, Dr. Susanna Mittermaier, Kyla Holas and Chantel Baptiste. I wouldn’t have survived the last two years without you in particular. Thank you all and fare thee well.
All images copyright 2016 Erik Williams/USA Today Sports Images
Greetings and salutations all, I hope this finds everyone well thus far this week. I've been all right since the end of July, when my regular work started back up again. And things have been challenging yet great. A recent highlight was on Saturday, Sept. 3 when I covered the Advocare Kickoff Classic at NRG Stadium between the University of Houston and the Oklahoma Sooners. It was one of the more exhilarating college football games I've ever covered, especially in terms of atmosphere as both teams battled in front of a sellout crowd of over 71,000 fans. The highly anticipated matchup more than lived up to the hype as #15-ranked Houston took advantage of two third quarter turnovers to pull away from #3-ranked Oklahoma, 33-23. It was a great game in all respects, and I took full advantage, getting many viable images from the game.
Strangely enough, it wasn't until I got home and unpacked that I realized the date, September 3rd. It was on this date five years earlier that I covered the NCAA football game between Houston and UCLA. And the similarities between the two days were pretty eerie: Houston was playing at home in front of a raucous crowd against a higher-ranked opponent and traditional powerhouse, and the Cougars would emerge victorious in both games. (UH defeated the UCLA Bruins, 38-34.) Pretty strange, eh? But there was also personal significance to that date as well.
Sept. 3, 2011 was the first NCAA football game I covered after a nearly two-year exile from shooting professional and college athletics. (Thanks to unfortunate circumstances and my own professional naievete, I didn't shoot any major professional or college athletics between Nov. 2009-Mar. 2011, and certainly no upper-level football during that time.) While I was "out of it", I lost faith that I could make it back to that place, professionally, and was unsure at to what to do with my business and even my life. But I kept at it and took advantage of various opportunities, eventually making it back on the sidelines for Houston Cougar football in 2011.
While I've hit other heights since then and continue to strive to bigger and better things, it was amazing to look back on where I was five years ago and see how far I've come, how far I've grown and what I've survived. Granted I’m still not where I ultimately hope to be, but goddamnit I’m glad I’m not where I once was. I guess if there's a point of this diatribe, it's that never stop working and fighting to achieve your dreams, and don't let anyone tell you they're worthless or not meritorious of your full devotion.
(taken during the UH-UCLA game on Sept. 3, 2011)
(taken during the UH-Oklahoma game on Sept. 3, 2016)
Well, with another diatribe concluded, I hope everyone has a good week and rest of September. Thanks for your time, and until next time, fare thee well.
All images copyright 2011-16 Erik Williams