RMNB’s resident casanova and now photog for the Examiner, Neil Greenberg, spent the week at the Capitals development camp. What follows are his thoughts on the experience.
What a week.
Overwhelming. Fulfilling. Humbling. No other words can describe it.
From when I said yes to cover it for the Examiner to when Kelly showed me where I could and could not go to when I got in my truck at the end of Fan Fest: total euphoria.
Not going to lie, I was overwhelmed when Michael asked me if I would be interested in taking pictures at the Camp for the Washington Caps Examiner – and would be jealous, too, of someone in that position. Of course, I could not say yes quick enough.
What an honor, right? Two things I am passionate about mashed up together for a surreal experience: the chance to cover the sport I love through art – despite being told that becoming an artist would never work for me. Specifically, “Neil, you can’t be an artist.” I tried everything: playing instruments (violin and saxophone), drawing, painting and even writing. In fact, most of my childhood I was told I couldn’t do stuff. Not shouldn’t – can’t. Told that if I tried to chase that dream it would end in certain, perhaps orchestrated, failure.
Luckily in my adult life, free from childhood negativity and sabotage, I found photography. And by “found”, I mean a mail-order bride girlfriend I was living with told me I needed to get a life out more and, if I didn’t enroll in a class at Montgomery College, she was going to kill me could no longer guarantee my safety at home. Hello, Photography Basics 101. (Goodbye, what’s-her-name.)
Then I realized that’s what Development Camp is all about. No, not being threatened encouraged by your live in girlfriend to explore other interests besides video games and comic books art, but chasing a dream and showing everyone who doesn’t think you can make it exactly what you have burning inside.
We saw it in the skating drills.
We saw it in the scrimmages.
We saw it in the way the players interacted with the fans and the media.
Everything they did was under a microscope – constantly being evaluated against what it takes to be in the NHL.
Photography is similar. Not in the physical sense, although I have thrown some elbows to maintain my little spot among the other photogs (sorry, Addison, and welcome to the RMNB team!), but in the mental sense. You have to be better than the person next to you. Your work has to shine through in the little things otherwise people will continue to think and label you as not being ready. Or worse: You can’t.
Sure, I was half joking when I tweeted Cody Eakin and I were BFFs, but what struck me was how after the scrimmage he shook my hand and asked where I was posting the pictures so he could take a look. Here’s a potential future NHLer asking me to see my photos when I should be asking him to sign someone else’s with his autograph. Humbling for sure, but also vindicating.
That’s what I saw this week and tried to show through my photos: Winning the battle while struggling to fulfill a dream – even when others immediately around you are doing the same.