Cruiser Pride: The Athletic Edition

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 Photo courtesy of Todd Gray
 This image of Cruiser tennis player Meagan Meyer is one of the photos on display at Groveport Town Hall in June as part of "Cruiser Pride: The Athletic Edition" exhibit.

They run, jump, throw, catch, grapple, tackle, shoot, spike, and swing with grace, style, and power.

Now these skills of Groveport Madison High School Cruiser athletes have been captured in photos by photographer Todd Gray.

"Cruiser Pride: The Athletic Edition," a photography exhibit showcasing Gray’s artistry and the athletes’ skills, will be on display through June at Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. A meet the artist open house will be held on June 10 from 7-9 p.m.

I recently interviewed Gray about his work.

Rick Palsgrove: How long have you been a photographer?

Todd Gray: "I’ve been taking photos, processing my own film and printing my own prints since I was eight-years-old. I’ve been a professional photographer for the last 15 years."

RP: When and why did you first get interested in photography?

TG: "When I was eight my mom gave me a Kodak 127 Brownie camera, which I still have and is in working order. I shot black and white photos of anything I could find and anyone willing to be photographed. I bought a toy darkroom set, which I also still have and is working order. This included a processing tank and reel and a plastic housing that held a normal house hold light bulb,  and attached to the housing was a little adjustable lens and a place to hold your 3 x 5 paper. This was the enlarger. It came with a little instruction booklet on how to do everything and I taught myself how to process film and print pictures and I have been doing it ever since."

RP: Besides the sports photos, what other kinds of photography do you do?

 TG: "If you look at my work that I do for my vocation, it always has people in them. Now if you look at my photos that I do for fun, they always have people in them. My background and what I went to college for is portrait photography. So if I’m photographing anything with people, including sports, I’m happy."

RP: What are the challenges involved in getting a good sports photo?

TG: "A few things I deal with are stopping the action, making sure you shoot with one eye open, and exposure of the image. I have to make sure I’m able to stop the motion of the person and still have it look interesting and in focus. I started keeping one eye open after I had a professional hockey player get checked into the glass which my camera and eye were laying against. You have to be aware of what is coming toward you so you can run if you have to get out of the way because the athletes will not stop for you. Regarding exposure, each situation is different from low light to not being able to use a flash indoors. So you have to know the correct combination to get the correct exposure.  Those are my top three."

RP: What is your favorite sport to photograph?

TG: "I get this asked a lot, and my answer is what I’m photographing at that given time. I could be photographing a sport I do not have any interest in, but when I’m  taking photos of it becomes my favorite."

RP: For the readers who are photography buffs, what kind of camera do you use and what speed of film is best for sports photography?

TG: "Nikon D70 with a sb800 speed flash and a autofocus 80-200 2.8 Nikor lense. I usually shoot 400 asa but sometimes  because of a low light situation I will go all the the way up to 3200 asa."

RP: How important is timing when shooting sports photographs?

TG: "Very important, it is not like my portrait photography where I can pose someone and say, do not move and smile. It is the luck of the draw so to speak. I never know what I’m going to get until after the fact. You have to position yourself to help get the best outcome is possible. Let me explain, if you shoot enough and know the sport well enough, you can expect players to do certain things. Such as a certain player may like running to the right, or the play may be at home plate, or watch the net for a spike. By positioning yourself and your camera you can capture an image that you might have missed if you are not thinking ahead."

RP: Besides the Groveport Town Hall exhibit, where else are your photos on display?

TG: "They’re on display at the Groveport Madison Local Schools administration office and on the walls at the high school."

RP: How do the athletes respond upon seeing the photos?

TG: "I get people say they are really good,  but the athletes usually do not say anything to me. It comes more from the parents. There are also some parents who do not like to see their child in print."

For information on the photo exhibit,  call Groveport Town Hall at (614) 836-3333.


"This exhibit is not just about the photographs but about the athletes. It is about how they go to school all day and practice all afternoon, so they may perform their best with a team or as an individual. It is about the coaches who spend countless hours on and off the field preparing these athletes so they may perform their best when it is asked of them. It is about the parents who drive the athletes to and from all the practices and pick them up late after an away game. It is about the fans who sit in the bleachers and cheer them on no matter how well they are doing. It is about all the volunteers behind the scenes who may or may not have athletes competing but still donate their time and talent It is about the Athletic Department and all the hours they put in to make it possible for the athletes to compete. It is about the school staff and administrators and how they prepare the athletics to succeed on the field as well as off the field. It is about a sense of pride that we have for our school. It is a about Cruiser Pride."

-Todd Gray, photographer

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