Sunday, October 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

The story behind the viral Lightning vs. Sabres fight photo

Sometimes, a photographer carefully plans his position — choosing the precise lens and ensuring the camera's settings are exactly where he wants them. And other times, he's just trying to not "get smushed.''

Thursday night during the hockey game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Times photographer Dirk Shadd found himself in the second situation. His quick reaction resulted in a stunning photograph of the Lightning's Ryan Callahan caught in a scrum of flying Sabres' fists.

"When moments like this break out there isn't too much of a thought process,'' Shadd said. "It feels like a tidal wave of energy, and the whole goal is to just ride it, react to it and photograph it. Oh, and not get smushed.''

Shadd was photographing Lightning captain Steven Stamkos with a longer lens as Stamkos and his Buffalo foe started slashing at each other. Shadd also thinks he had a laptop on his lap and two other cameras tangling themselves around his neck.

"BANG —- it just erupted from there,'' Shadd said. "A wave of bodies and churning limbs came crushing toward the corner. Just before they all hit the glass I pulled up my third camera. SMACK. Faces on glass!''

Shadd said as the players were pounding each other into the glass, the fans all pounded and pushed back behind him.

"I was mostly trying to keep shooting but not get knocked over as someone kept pounding on my left shoulder,'' he said. "I think that fan mistook me for the glass and just banged away. I got off about 30 frames before the camera jammed.''

One of those frames made it onto Twitter, where by noon Friday it had been retweeted nearly 115 times.

It also was picked up by CBSSports.com, where Chris Peters wrote:

"This scrap also led to an amazing photo.

"Sometimes photography is all about being at the right place at the right time. Tampa Bay Times photographer Dirk Shadd might agree with that statement as that line brawl exploded right in front of him, He snapped this shot of Callahan getting a thumb in his face, referee's trying to get everything under control (and failing). This is the kind of view fans aren't often privy to in an NHL fight and it's awesome. There's just so much to look at here.''

Contact Ron Brackett at [email protected] Follow @rontimes.

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