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From the World of “Why?”: Photographic Follies Edition, Volume 2

July 20, 2011

2005-06 Parkhurst Alexander Ovechkin Season Highlights Subset

Today marks the second time that I am posting a Photographic Follies Edition of my From the World of “Why?” series of articles, highlighting the (sometimes very) questionable choices card manufacturers have made in terms of the images they include on their cards.

This edition of Photographic Follies was inspired by one of the many cards I have come across while scanning what feels like a never-ending pile of items that are listed in my eBay Store without an image.

That card is a 2005-06 Parkhurst Season Highlights Subset card of Washington Capitals’ sniper Alexander Ovechkin.

The card shows a still image of Ovechkin in the midst of completing one of the most impressive goals of the 05-06 campaign, if not one of the most impressive in many hockey fans’ lifetimes.

As the video shows, Ovechkin somehow managed to score by reaching above his head while sliding along the ice on his back, directing the puck through the miniscule amount of space between the outstretched paddle of the goaltender’s stick and the post.

Unfortunately this attempt by Upper Deck to showcase what the card dubs as “The Goal” fails miserably at providing a worthwhile visual of a truly incredible play in my books.

While in school the following communications principle was driven into my head repeatedly, a principle that I continue to try my best to adhere to: one should never assume that his/her audience has any previous frame of reference upon which to base their initial impression of a piece of communication.

In other words, always assume that your audience knows absolutely nothing about what you have put in front of them.

Do not use acronyms without spelling out that acronym in its entirety when first referencing it in a document.

Do not use industry- or topic-specific lingo that only a select group is familiar with.

Do not use graphics or images in support of your point that require a detailed explanation, yet omit that very explanation from the piece of communication.

It is this third point in particular that Upper Deck failed on for me, as they clearly seem to have assumed that anyone seeing this card will have also already seen “The Goal”.

While it is likely that many hockey fans and collectors had in fact seen Ovechkin’s play, to assume that every single viewer of the card had seen it is simply not a wise move.

I will openly admit that I was not entirely sure what I was looking at the first time I saw this card and I had seen the highlight of the goal on TV more times than I can remember prior to coming across the card.

The end result of the photo used on this card is something that an uninformed viewer of the card or a new collector and/or hockey fan may think is a picture taken just after Ovechkin has just been laid out by a hit or has simply been tripped to the ice (which he had been) and ended up on his back.  It certainly is not screaming ‘he just scored “the goal” on this play.’

In addition to making assumptions about the viewers of the card, from my perspective there are also a number of other flaws in the photo that Upper Deck selected:

  1. There is no sign of a puck either in the net or on his stick, leaving the viewer of the card with no way knowing that he’s actually scoring “The Goal”;
  2. His hand is covering his face, leaving little way of knowing with 100% certainty that it is even Ovechkin pictured on the card.  It doesn’t take a professional photographer to know that as a general rule you would like to be able to see the face of the person you are taking a photo of!; and
  3. By superimposing Ovechkin and washing out everything in the background the card ends up looking mighty beige and as a result, mighty boring.  Not exactly the look I would be going for when I am trying to highlight one of the best plays of the year.

I understand why Upper Deck would want to highlight this play on a card given how amazing it was, and I also realize that Upper Deck may have thought it had little choice but to use a wide-angle shot given Ovechkin’s position on the ice and their apparent need to include a card about this play.  But should all of these issues that are identified above not have been noticed by someone at the company and raised some red flags about including a card picturing this play in the first place?

If you do not have a useful photo to show off the play in a medium that absolutely requires a useful photo to be included, then why try to show off that play at all?

My suggestion as a remedy to this photo would have been to include a more close-up upper body shot of Ovechkin on the ice that gave a clearer view of the net while also showing the puck sliding into that net.

I think a photo like that, despite not showing the entire play either, might have better illustrated what Upper Deck was going for.  If that photo was not available then I would have simply scrapped the card entirely.

In the end, this card essentially just serves as proof that amazing plays appearing on the evening sportscast are often best left to be viewed in that medium and not forced into a still shot.

*****

If you have any examples of Photographic Follies that you would like to pass along for me to highlight in this series then please feel free to do so.  You can get in touch by leaving a comment in an article, emailing me at bb_bros@hotmail.com, of connecting on Facebook and Twitter.

Until Sunday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!

Ryan

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