Budding photographer talks about plum (last minute) assignment to photograph Manti Te’o inteview for ESPN


posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM EST


Ok, consider this aspiring photojournalists out there: what if you were asked, at the last minute, to photograph one of the biggest sports stories of the year for ESPN?

And what if you were a relative novice who had only been tapped to shoot the breaking news story because the main photographer was out of town? Would you freak out?

Well, that's what happened to Ryan Jones, who had only been shooting seriously for two years when he was asked to photograph last week's ESPN interview with Manti Te'o , the Notre Dame linebacker with the infamous girlfriend who never existed.

But instead of panicking, Jones leapt at the chance and, literally, into his car to head to the interview, which was happening at 7pm in Bradenton, Florida. Lucky for Jones, who lives more than two and half hours away, the interview ended up being pushed back to 8pm.

"At 5:00 p.m., only 13 minutes after receiving [the original photographer] Steve’s voicemail, I was in my car and headed toward the ramp that would put me on I-75 South," Jones wrote in a blog post about the experience.

"Two and a half hours after leaving Gainesville, I pulled up to the IMG Academy security gate to explain why I was there. Since the whole situation was so last minute, my name was not on any sort of guest list and I lost the battle of convincing the guard to let me in."

Jones eventually gets in touch with the producer on site and connects with ESPN's Jeremy Schapp, who will be interviewing Te'o. But after squeezing off only three frames of Te'o with his Nikon D600 and 70-200mm lens before the interview even starts, Jones is told to leave.


He ends up getting the green light to return later as the interview is winding down and sends nine images to EPSN, which are then splashed on websites around the world. Ryan later shares a pizza with Te'o  after the interview and reflects on getting the plum ESPN assignment.

"If this experience isn’t considered taking a leap of faith and jumping into the thick of things, I’m not sure what is," he writes. "Steve and ESPN took a chance on me and for that I’m grateful beyond words. I also took a chance on myself. I could’ve easily turned it down out of fear of messing up, but I’m happy to report the situation turned out much better than I think anyone expected it would; receiving a text while driving home at 2:00 a.m. from Bob [of ESPN Images] saying just that was definitely a huge boost of confidence."

Read more of Jones' compelling story on his blog.

(Via Reddit)