The U.S. Open is one of the premier sporting events in the world and one that is frequented by leading sports photographers and photojournalists from around the world. Iconic images come from the two-week tournament every year and behind every one of those images is a working photographer pushing themselves and their gear to the limits in heat, humidity and a grueling schedule filled with tight deadlines.
To do what they do, those pros rely on support from the publications they work for, their studio staff, the media coordinators at the U.S. Open and the manufacturers of their gear.
At the 2017 U.S. Open, there’s a new presence amid the small army of media support staff working to enable the photographers to do their jobs. Sony Imaging PRO Support is on-site with technicians, loaner cameras and lenses and expert technical reps working behind the scenes to help keep the stunning photography flowing. Jeff Hiatt, Director of Sony Imaging PRO Support explains the company's dedication to these hard working working professionals, “When Sony launched the α9 back in April we made a commitment to supporting the professional photographer. Our large presence at the U.S. Open is a clear step in that direction. We want to ensure that photographers have all the tools necessary to properly cover this amazing even and not miss a shot. That could mean a 1st time loan of an α9, technical support, a free sensor cleaning, or maybe even just a quick swap for a fresh battery on a loaned camera. We have product experts and technicians available during all key hours of the event, and even stayed open throughout the entire Labor Day weekend, providing support on days when the other companies' support facilities were closed."
This is the first time for Sony Imaging PRO Support at the U.S. Open and it follows their presence at the PGA Championship in August. These events are just the first as Sony moves to emphatically demonstrate the company’s commitment to working professional photographers. In the coming year, you’ll see Sony Imaging PRO Support at events all over the country. "We're going to be supporting these hard-working professionals as much as possible," Hiatt says. "We're also going to learn and listen. Part of our commitment to support is a commitment to getting better and providing the tools the pros need to do their jobs. The α9 is a reflection of that of that philosophy. We're listening at the U.S. Open and we're going to be listening at every event where Sony PRO Imaging Support goes."
Until now, professional sports photography has been dominated by Canon and Nikon. With the introduction of the α9 and the ongoing roll-out of some of the finest lenses made today, Sony has challenged that dominance. It’s telling that the U.S. Open remodeled their media support space to make room for Sony Imaging PRO Support. “In fact, they built this space out for us when they realized that Sony is going to be a viable player in the pro market,” says longtime Nikon Professional Services chief Bill Pekala who is now a consultant for Sony Imaging PRO Support. “The person that runs the media center, said, ‘Well, we were going to do a little remodeling. We're just going to make it so that we have ample space for all three of you guys to be here.’"
In addition to a staff of technicians for simple repairs and cleaning, Sony Imaging PRO Support has ample loaner bodies and lenses on hand for photographers who want to give the Sony system a try or in the event that something can’t be repaired on site. “If we can't fix it onsite, we certainly have plenty of equipment here to make sure that the guy can continue to work,” says Pekala. “One photographer showed up, and I guess his equipment took a pretty severe hit coming off the airplane. We couldn’t fix it on-site so in this particular case, because the repair facility is close by, the head repairman actually took the product with him. He's going to bring it back this week, but in the meantime, of course, we loaned the photographer what he needed to keep him in operation.”
For photographers who are new to Sony gear, or if someone just wants to learn more about the Sony gear they’ve been using, Sony Imaging PRO Support also has tech reps at the U.S. Open to help photographers discover all of the ins and outs of their cameras. Pros can become set in their ways and not everyone has the patience to do a deep dive into all of the features and settings in the latest digital cameras (this is part of the reason so many pros simply declare they shoot everything in manual).
“That's a key part of what's happening here,” explains Pekala. “The repair technician is one thing, and that's certainly a benefit to the photographer, but anytime that you have new equipment especially with all of the features that are built into something like the α9, it’s a great benefit to have staff on hand whose job it is to know everything about how that equipment actually works. Sony brought in several of their top tech reps that can serve as coaches to the photographers. Sony is building a tech force that will be able to work with people out in the field to ensure that they get the best out of the equipment and get the best that the equipment is capable of giving.”
At the end of the day it's all about the images. At the 2017 U.S. Open, those using the Sony a9 have been able to capture some of the most stunning photos from any sports event as they use the camera's incredible 20 fps shooting speed and broad dynamic range. For the professionals shooting Sony, having PRO Support on site has given them a welcome resource and the confidence that Sony has their back so they can focus on what's important,,,the pictures.
Sony Imaging PRO Support is a premium care program designed for professionals to ensure that your Sony camera systems are always ready to roll. Membership benefits include 24/7 email and phone support, three-day repair turnaround time, special event invitations, trial loans, free shipping and more. Learn more about Sony Imaging PRO Support and apply.