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My View: Getting practice at practice

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CHARLOTTE N.C. - To say I was not nervous or anxious for my first solo shoot as a Panthers' digital intern would be an understatement. I was allowed to go to Panthers practice alone to continue to get practice shots in before the season. I've never shied away from putting in work and practice to perfect a craft.

I've always had Chanelle and Kenny to shadow since I started this internship about a month ago. Yes, I have had small projects such as "The Main Stage" walking around downtown Charlotte asking Panthers fans if they would like to take a photo, but practice is the real deal. It's learning as well as being able to show my passion for photography and what others see through my camera lens.

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Starting off, I believe this is my favorite photo from the day, capturing the cornerbacks after practice huddled up and showcasing great team chemistry. I was walking away from the field when I looked up and saw it. I believe that seeing teammates huddled up creates great team chemistry, and it shows that everyone has each others' back. I decided to edit this in black and white because it is showcasing power in a sense. There's strength in numbers, and the CBs are depicting that.

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The guys decided to take a little break at one point and play Oklahoma. The fellas were definitely excited, and it showed when the drill started. First up, they had Jeremy Chinn and Laviska Shenault Jr.. The energy was amazing as the fellas cheered one another. Chinn and Shenault set the vibe for the drill as teammates predicted who would win. 

I wanted to be as close as possible, but I also wanted to make sure I wasn't in the way or on the field. I decided to shoot with the 400 mm lens, which allowed me to focus on the drill and capture facial expressions such as this one of Myles Dorn, which I found hilarious.

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Getting facial expressions helped to create a story out of the drill, and my favorite part was the emotions and cheers from the players, like the photos of Chinn and Sam Franklin Jr. celebrating after Chinn won the drill.

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I wanted to go wide with these shots to incorporate as much celebration as possible. I shot the celebration with the 70-200 mm lens (you have to move with a purpose in sports, especially football with that I am learning), and I'm glad I did because of the priceless expressions captured during this.

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What I'm teaching myself, or better yet reminding myself, as I continue to practice and get better at photography, is to move with urgency because you can miss a play. I'm making sure that my framing is great so I can get the full body of the player and not cut off at their ankles or knees (Chanelle has taught and reminded me). I was happy to capture Yetur Gross-Matos doing a defensive drill that our defensive ends do. I also wanted to get an iso shot of Gross-Matos being focused on what coach was telling him and how attentive he looked.

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This day at practice showed me that I can't be too much in my head. I just simply have to have fun and not overthink when shooting. I know the more I practice get, the more comfortable I will be using the 400 mm lens, compared to my comfort with a prime-tight lens. I've also worked on determining which photos to use in the editing process, as you can sometimes get five photos that all look pretty similar.

Overall, not bad.

View photos of Panthers players during voluntary workouts.

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