Nothing more to see: Documenting a loss


Shooting basketball is easy. More correctly, it's pretty easy when compared to photographing a heartbroken student-athlete with his face buried in a towel, still crying 20 minutes after a loss to a less-established opponent.

In cases like Saturday's 69-67 defeat to Northern Iowa, the only photos that dutifully speak to the gravity of the loss are one's of utter dejection. It's only on the rarest of occasions that these are not the final photographs I or other photographers make of some of the most storied basketball programs at the end of their tournament runs. The only real exception, when you consider a team with high expectations like Kansas, are those that come after an NCAA championship win.

Shortly after the buzzer had sounded, coworker Mike Yoder and I made some photos of players looking despondent on the bench, walking slowly from the court and helping each other off the floor.

We then made our way back to the media work area to send a few photos before heading toward the Jayhawks' locker room. When we arrived a large cluster of media members had already gathered outside, waiting to be let in to interview the dethroned number one overall seed. NCAA policy after tournament games allows for a "cooling off" period; 10 minutes for the winning team and 15 for the losing team before media members are allowed into the locker room for interviews.

I've never heard of or met a photographer who lives for these bummed-out locker room situations because frankly, they can be pretty awkward. You're literally in there, photographing these players at their lowest point and the idea is to respectfully document and communicate a representation of the sadness shared by the players, staff and thousands of fans. However, I'm not sure the compassion behind these photographs is immediately apparent to the players when we're in there.

What typically happens is that most of the television cameras will huddle around the high profile players. It's not to single any particular player out or to rest the blame squarely on anyone's shoulders but rather to get a word from the team's leaders. In this case it was Sherron Collins and eventually Cole Aldrich after he returned from the press conference. Around the outskirts of all the attention is the rest of the team and this is where most still photographers try to work. Slowly but efficiently, and without a hint of eagerness is usually the best approach, I've found.

Plenty of hours can be spent fretting over shutter speeds, apertures, lenses, remote cameras or any other devices employed to capture athletes, but it's always the photographs of the athletes who are motionless, sitting along by a locker that are the most difficult to take.


Gordon Penny 11 years, 6 months ago

Then why do this? I, personally, find it rather tasteless to take these photographs.

keeb1211 11 years, 6 months ago

Part of photography is to capture the emotion of the moment and I feel they have done a good job doing so especially in this situation. How these photos could be tasteless is beyond me, they have a job to do regardless of the situation. The loss is awful but should we only get to see photos of the players after all of their high moments and not their lows?

kranny 11 years, 6 months ago

Take these photographs, tape them to the inside of your practice locker, look at it every time you go to practice. This image would be motivation enough for me to work my A$$ off next year so I would never feel this way again unless it was losing the championship which would still suck but be less degrading.

Jack Hoover 11 years, 6 months ago

I think falling to your knees and weeping and bawling and crying, and sniffiling is pretty pathetic. It was a BB game no more. No one died. KU got beat.... the whole game. It's over. I thought the KU players should of bellied up and take it like men. How can you shake the other guys' hands when you are on your knees? Pretty juvenile IMO.

VegasJhawk09 11 years, 6 months ago

shut it Iowaboy, apparently youve never worked your heart out for anything only to have it snatched from you in seconds.

lovemyhawks 11 years, 6 months ago

i still feel terrible for them..... i'm sure up to the very very end of that game, they honestly BELIEVED they would come back as they almost always seemed to do....... when it was over and it didn't happen...... it was a very abrupt and horrible SHOCK to all of them, along with the entire jayhawk nation........ it breaks my heart so i can't even imagine how it felt as a player with such very high expectations!

weegee 11 years, 6 months ago

iowaboy--Congratulations on being a robot.

FairgroveJayhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

"It's only on the rarest of occasions that these are not the final photographs I or other photographers make of some of the most storied basketball programs at the end of their tournament runs." - Krug

"The loss is awful but should we only get to see photos of the players after all of their high moments and not their lows? " -keeb1211

Great comments.

Nick you have provided us with many great photos this year. Thanks.

lovemyhawks 11 years, 6 months ago

glad to see another #1 go down..... misery loves company or something, huh?? i'd like to see NO #1 OR #2 teams get to the final 4!!

melrank 11 years, 6 months ago

I know how we as fans feel sad (and angry) over this loss but these pictures only capture a portion of how these kids must have felt during these agonizing moments.

Unfortunately, this loss will remain for a lifetime burned into the heart and soul of those who played.

As a former athlete and current fan of sports in general, I find these photos fascinating and relevant.

melrank 11 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if the Orange fans are calling for Boeheim to start playing Man?

Kent Wells 11 years, 6 months ago

melrank: I think Syracuse should have pressed...

melrank 11 years, 6 months ago


I've been saying all year long that they didn't play up to their potenial and it finally caught up with them.

Playing Big East cupcakes all year long and winning lots of games didn't prepare them for the tournament thus . . . another early exit on the big stage. Boeheim sucks.

Kent Wells 11 years, 6 months ago

melrank: No, they are showing KState here in Texas. UK had one run and that is the spread right now. Looks like Cornell let them loose for just a few minutes too long...

rxjayhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

I hate to say this, but if we would have played like Kentucky all year, we would have been a very dominate team. I'm very sad to say I envy how Kentucky goes out and takes care of business. They play with a lot of fire. Any true college basketball fan would admit they want their team to play with that much fire.

murph 11 years, 6 months ago

It's a shame that our team couldn't man up and shake hands with the winners. That's a long-time standard in sportsmanship, and it looks really bad to shirk. Cry all you want in the locker room, but be courteous first.

Drgnslayr, get a grip. This is most definitely NOT a tragedy. Goodness! Sadness, yes, disappointment, big time. Tragedy, absolutely not. As someone else said above, no one died, no one was maimed, no one lost their home. There is tragedy aplenty in our country and our world these days. This ain't it.

swense 11 years, 6 months ago

I agree murph, the sun came up, played golf this week in Kansas, I love the Jayhawks but now its go Big 12. Go Cats & Go Baylor Bears.

KPOP 11 years, 6 months ago

should have taken care of business. Nobody hands you a win because you walk on the floor in a Kansas jersey. You must play ball with passion and a sense of urgency in every game. Now if the tourney was best 2 out of 3, whole other story. There is no crying in basketball, sad to see that part of it. Those pictures will haunt the players and coaches for a long long time. In fact I am getting sick of my non KU friends sending me the same pics. Rock Chalk. I can hardly wait unitl next year.

thmdmph 11 years, 6 months ago

One thing that has been fully supported by this year's KU games is that when players feel that they are the best or that they're a forgone NBA conclusion, there's no urgency, determination, and drive in their games (perfect examples: Aldrich this year vs his freshman and sophomore years, X Henry, and to a much smaller extend Collins this year vs his first 3 years). This team NEVER played with enthusiasm and determination and drive all year long. They've came out flat games after games. Unfortunately, there were many on this board who didn't see that and makes excuses all year long when somebody points out something obviously negative about individual plays.

Now, or at least on previous day's postings, there are a flood of "fans" who all of a sudden came out for Self's head. For what? I can only assume for should off and could off plays that Self should have called, that even in hindsight, it's not even close to 20/20. Yes, every teams that has lost should have pressed earlier in the game no matter what else was going on on the court.

Yes KUwells, Syracuse should have pressed. O My God, Xavier should have done the same. I'll suck up my pride and hope Martin and his Pussycats would press early and press hard and win a national championship for Big12 & KS.

Gotta love March Madness. It always brings out the best in great players. Great game last night between KSU and Xavier.

Blake Brown 11 years, 6 months ago

For me, this is typical media negative coverage emphasis highlighting the dark, down side of things. How many photos are taken and illustrated showing players celebrating the joy of achievement and success? Where are all of the locker room pics of UNI players in jubilation? Think of 08`. We see THE SHOT and not a lot more. I vote for capturing the good and positive things in life. Thanks to all of you photographers and writers who do this and for sharing an image we can all aspire to and/ or appreciate and treasure in the future.

jaybate 11 years, 6 months ago


Thanks for the pics all season.

I wanted you to be there to document a special season and you were.

And it turned out to be special season, just one with a terribly unfortunate ending.

All the more reason to document it.

33-2 was one of the greatest runs I've seen a KU team make.

That third was the most painful loss I've ever seen a KU team take.

Your pictures document both a remarkable season and a terrible last loss.

And that's the way it was.

Rock Chalk!

Mackadoo 11 years, 6 months ago

Nick, wonderful photos. I've become a big fan of your work this year. I can always tell which are yours because even in action shots, you go for the emotion of the situation, instead of just a nice photo. These in particular are great ones that capture the heartbreak of what we all felt and are an integral part of the season's historical documentation.

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