purple reign

K-State’s Erik Kynard, 2011 NCAA Men’s High Jump National Champion.

K-State’s Ryann Krais, 2011 NCAA Heptathlon National Champion.

Recently, I had to photograph K-State’s 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Champions Erik Kynard and Ryann Krais for some marketing materials. Erik won the men’s high jump and Ryann won the heptathlon. The art director wanted some simple, individual shots of them on a white background. We finished the shoot in less than 15 minutes. I asked Erik and Ryann if they were willing to hang around and try some different portrait ideas because it’s not everyday I get to photograph two of the nation’s best college athletes. Surprisingly, they agreed to it.

I had read a magazine article about Erik where he stated that he could literally jump over a car. That would have made a great photo but the K-State athletic directors would not allow it. Erik and Ryann were set to compete at the USA Track and Field Championships and nobody wanted to risk injury to either one of them. Ironically, Erik wished we could have shot the photo.

Instead, I tried a different approach with him. I grabbed a white dress shirt and black blazer from the football team locker room and had him tear out of it to reveal his K-State track jersey much like Clark Kent tears out of his clothes to reveal his Superman suit. Since Erik can fly horizontally through the air at 7’6″ off the ground, I thought the Superman reference was a good analogy.

Ryann competes in seven events in the heptathlon: the 100 meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 meter run, long jump, javelin, and 800 meter run. I felt it was impossible to show all seven events in one photo. So, I focused on her best event, the hurdles, since she is also a 400 meter hurdle champion. We shot on the outdoor balcony overlooking the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The football team was working out below us and they started whistling and cheering for Ryann minutes into our photo shoot. It made her laugh and smile for the pictures.

The three of us had enough fun that our session lasted almost two hours. Erik and Ryann are wonderful young people. I would feel extremely blessed if Erik was my son or Ryann was my daughter or they were dating my kids. The best part is that Erik is a sophomore and Ryann is a junior so I hope that I can watch them compete at K-State for a few more years.

-scott weaver

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