January 24th, 2007 I accepted an offer from New Era Cap to become their in-house photographer. On April 4th, 2007 before leaving for Florida (thanks Facebook) I took this photograph of Lindy Ruff. The Sabres were going to the playoffs and New Era produced a limited edition white-out cap.
I remember this day like it was yesterday. I, for the most part had been shooting caps on a head form, in a studio and then processing them for web, catalog and other internal uses. My boss told me, “pack up, we are going to photograph the head coach of the Sabres wearing our white-out cap.”.
Sure, why not? I had spent the last year and a half working with local Buffalo photographers Bob Collignon and Dave Jarosz. I could do this! No big deal!
I wish I had a photo of my childhood bedroom to accompany this photo, it’s decked out in Sabres garb. I had posters of players and collected hockey cards. I played street hockey and shot pucks at a net in front of my neighbors garage door, pretending to my favorite Sabre players. I didn’t make it to many games, I watch on T.V. I didn’t get to meet players or coaches. I looked at these people, people who had awesome jobs, and made a ton of people very happy or mad or sad at times, the same way some might look at the President, a favorite musical group, or… I made them out to be bigger then life.
I was nervous as hell to be going to photograph a person I had held in such high regard. I hadn’t been employed long and assignments such as this were not really in the job description. I packed my stuff and headed to the arena. I tested the light on my boss, Lindy walked in and just like that it was over.
Well not really, but some criticize me for my long winded accounts of events.
So, in those 10 minutes, 10 minutes that seemed like 30 seconds. I met a man like me(kinda), he had a way cooler job. Someone who in the morning, put his pants on one leg at a time. Has a family and a wife to support. He was kind and willing to do as I asked. He cracked jokes, poking fun at me that I was a little to tense/nervous to be photographing someone like himself. He made me feel comfortable which made me able to do what I knew I could.
I went on to photograph a lot more assignments like this for New Era, Ryan Miller was one, Ad campaigns that were featured in Vice, XXl and other cultural magazines another. This day had a lot to do with being successful on those other shoots. I believe it showed my ability to work outside of the studio and to be successful doing so.
I thanked Lindy at a charity event held annual in Buffalo. I know many others who have very similar stories about the character of this humble man. Today, was a bitter sweet day, he is the winningest coach in team history, he coached and played for the Sabres for many years, but, his slow start, and unmotivated players lead to his firing. I wish him the best of luck, we may have a new coach, but Buffalo will defiantly miss this guy!