UNC Now

UNC picture of the week: Ryan Switzer comes through the smoke

UNC senior Ryan Switzer enters the field at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night before the Tar Heels’ game against Georgia.
UNC senior Ryan Switzer enters the field at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night before the Tar Heels’ game against Georgia. rwillett@newsobserver.com

We’re trying something new on UNC Now this year: a photo of the week kind of feature highlighting the fantastic work of Robert Willett, our UNC beat photographer.

I’m 35, and Robert has been photographing UNC athletics – as well as other schools in the Triangle – pretty much as long as I’ve been alive. He’s been the primary UNC beat photographer for most of the past decade, though, and is a mainstay on the sidelines and baselines of UNC football and basketball games.

If you’ve been to Kenan Stadium or to the Smith Center lately, you’ve seen Robert at work, though you just might not have noticed it. He’s always there, though, one camera in hand, others nearby, focused on capturing the moment.

Each week, I’ll ask Robert a few questions about one of his photographs. We start this week with Ryan Switzer coming out of the tunnel in the Georgia Dome on Saturday night. The Tar Heels are about to begin their season against Georgia.

Switzer is bounding through the smoke, jumping, pointing, flying, in that moment. The season is here.

Andrew Carter: What’s the story conveyed in this picture?

Robert Willett: Optimism, thankfulness, humility.

AC: How’d you get the shot?

RW: I cover the entrance by the team at every game. I usually try different angles and lenses. For the game in Georgia I took a side position, and used a 300mm lens on one camera, and a 50mm on the other. There was quite a bit of fog/smoke at one point and you couldn’t see the players. I usually keep an eye out for Ryan Switzer, and he emerged toward the back of the long line of players entering the Georgia Dome, that is when I captured the image.

AC: As a photographer, what jumps out at you about this picture?

RW: Each player approaches the entrance in their own way. Some use their arms like wings, others jump up and down, some do nothing other than just run. I have recorded many interesting moments of Ryan Switzer during his college career, so I usually keep an eye out for the senior.

Be sure to check out more of Robert’s work from UNC’s season-opener against Georgia.

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