There's always been a curious appeal and fascination about cheerleaders. I say curious because they peak our interest on many levels.
Taking pictures of them is also curious. What does a photographer hope to capture? They are scantily clad with daisy duke shorts, tight tops, and their synchronized dances are intended to please the wavering eye.
Before I drive right off the cliff and punch my own ticket to the dog house, cheerleaders make us feel at ease and comforted. Cheerleaders are part of the fabric of society, that wholesome image of Vitamin D milk, peanut butter and jelly, and convertibles. And as part of our society, they are filmed, photographed, and watched like hawks. As fans, we can choose whether or not to look at them, but cameramen and photographers know what to focus on and what viewers want.
By the very definition of their job, they get to uncomfortable angles. They have to get the shot people want to see but can't ask for. These photographers are in a no win situation, have a dirty job to do, but at least they do it well!
This is EXACTLY why I feel photographers are in a catch 22. Just so everyone knows, I edited this photo because this young woman went all natural and the whole world saw HER. Imagine the cameraman's surprise and there was no way to avoid it. She is being held up, she knew she was showing more than she intended to, and there was nowhere for anyone to turn and hide. It's somewhat surprising the school or team didn't even yank her down. However, there is one way to avoid the uncomfortable factor. Instead of publishing and sharing the photograph in all it's exposure, they could have done what I did: crop it, and at least make an attempt to keep it from seeing the light.
The uncomfortable factor is somewhat influenced by proximity, zoom, and the angle. If the photographer is 3 feet tall then they have an excuse, but otherwise: NOT- and this picture gets the definite uncomfortable factor. The biggest question is where is the security? Did the cameraman just scooch or crawl across the field, get right up there, look up, and snap away? And if they really just wanted a shot of the wonderful ladies of the University of California Los Angeles, then why not have them stand, shoulder to shoulder. Taking a knee or cropping it too would also free the photographer. Photo editing is a snap, and it would be really easy to just crop the photo at the waist. This shot has nothing to do with "luck."
13 BUCKS GIRLS
Someone PUH-LEASE tell me what this photographer was trying to capture. I mean, with cheerleaders in the tiniest of skirts and doing a split, there is NOTHING else to capture on film. I would think in Photography 101 the teacher would help students learn about angles and situational camera work. When any human being is wearing a 3 inch skirt and splitting down the middle, there is no way to avoid capturing certain body parts. But heck, do we give the man or woman behind the lens a pass or are they creepy? Say the Milwaukee Bucks need some pictures to get the fans ready for the season. If they call the paper and need some shots, what is a photographer to do? Shoot away with one eye open or both eyes closed?
A photographer in Milwaukee is allowed to take pictures of cheerleaders trying to make the Bucks' squad. I get it. It's the NBA and the Bucks haven't been relevant since Sidney Moncreif. Times can get hard in Milwaukee and the winters are no joke. If a cameraman needs work, he or she needs work. But a photographer focusing on the Patriots girls, well that's creepy.
What about shooting the resurgent Celtics, the amazing Pats dynasty, the always fun Bruins, or the Red Sox? There is no reason for someone to be in Massachusetts and snapping away at women stretching their groin and torsos. It would be like going to Beantown and buying light beer, pizza, or snapper soup.
If we're going to take you through pictures of cheerleaders at awkward angles, or photographers getting a little too close, then we have to go back to the original XFL. When Vince McMahon announced the league would be coming back in 2020, fans instantly thought back to how risque the league was back in 2001 and part of that image came with the league's cheerleaders. The XFL made no bones about the fact that they wanted their cheerleaders to take things a lot further than the NFL would and that included cameramen getting extremely close and capturing them at angles and in certain positions you wouldn't see on most sports telecasts. What a job those cameramen had. Go to any photo of an XFL cheerleader and it's not exactly PG.
10 AT THE CAR WASH
People can be so silly and screwy. I mean really, do cheerleaders washing a car really excite anyone? Now I don't want to ruin any daydreams for any teenagers out there, and I also don't want any charity who wants to raise money to suffer, but the whole thing is kinda' corny. I get it, water and suds and body positioning can spur the imagination and provide hope and dreams for anyone at "Ridgemont High. But, there is no way the girls like it. If there is an image that spells out adolescent dreams, this is it. If a school or charity wants to raise money for a cause then so be it, but that begets the question... who and why is someone taking pictures? The answer is they're weird and trying to get some kind of thrill when no one is aware and watching.
9 JUDGEMENT CALL
We all know there are certain requirements for cheerleaders that create a slippery slope. First, a cheerleader must wear provocative and skimpy clothes that reveal as much skin as possible. Second, many cheerleaders were either born with large brea$t$ or enhance their size. So what's a photographer to do? This woman is surely enjoying herself and totally into her job. She's dancing and living the dream while the cameraman and world is getting more than anyone ever thought possible. Without photo-shopping, it's almost impossible to edit. There's no way to avoid it unless the team pays for sweaters. However, if the camera person is elevated, that makes their shot even more revealing. Many sports teams have started doing away with cheerleaders altogether, possibly to avoid these headaches.
8 Oy Ve
I mean seriously, how does this happen? So she's sitting on her buttocks, her legs are up, she's leaning backwards, flicking her tongue, wearing the shortest of pink shorts, and knee high boots. Then, the camera-person crawls right up below her and positions the camera right "there" to take this shot. How? I know everyone is entitled to express themselves and obviously she knew what was coming and didn't mind. I can also tell she is kind of free spirited and doesn't mind the attention and recognition. But I can't believe security wasn't too far behind in case the camera person got any closer. But how could they get closer? The camera would break! Well, we hope his editor compensated him well for that shot.
This shot kind of makes you wonder what angle the photographer was going for. Why was the camera in between the two lines of cheerleaders and why was the angle mostly from the back? Well, this cheerleader seemed to catch the photographer red-handed as she turned around and flashed a smile. But was it a happy smile or a forced smile in trying to be a true cheerleading professional? Perhaps the cameraman quickly walked away or tried to get out of her eye line.
In all seriousness, there's always a fine line photographers have to tow when covering cheerleaders and it must be difficult at times to do your job and what is too far. However, some cheerleaders have revealed some pretty dark stories in just how much they have to put up with on a daily basis.
6 OH MY RAVEN
Something about those Ravens' girls makes the photographers go nuts. If I was a cheerleader, I would wear undies that read: $%^)* OFF or BACK AT YA. Seriously, what is this creep looking for? Blue skies? He's got blue skies alright and it's very surprising there aren't black eyes coming along with it. Unlike other cheerleaders who obviously didn't know what the photographer was doing, this lady is surely aware and living it up. It seems like all fun and games as everyone is having fun. Who knows, maybe the Ravens won that day and Flacco and company also had a lot to celebrate. The photographer easily could've deleted the picture or cropped it a little, but crop never more, said the raven.
5 PHOENIX SUNS
It shouldn't shock anyone that Phoenix's ladies are gorgeous. The weather is awesome, there is great hiking, skiing, lakes, and professional as well as collegiate sports. However, it is a little shocking she had over 10,000 views. She's definitely got a beautiful face, feathered hair, and strong arms, but she is also showing off her - upper body. I gotta admit many girls, just like this one, seem completely in the moment, unpretentious, and self aware. And why shouldn't they be? They get great seats to amazing sporting events, probably meet all kinds of people, and are paid to cheer people up. However, some have questioned just how provocative cheerleaders should be dressing if their main purpose is mainly to raise some spirit.
Who is SPU and what's going on here? I guess, if the proof is in the pudding (whatever that means), the NCAA and high schools and the professional ranks are all equally guilty. The scripted dance moves, positioning, and outfits certainly exploit these cheerleaders. They also invite peeping toms and voyeurs of all sorts. Though it's almost impossible to avoid these types of shots, the photographer certainly aimed the camera just right. Where else can a cameraman aim at a person's genitalia and shoot away? It's kinda weird in a way where people are exploited for their body and rhythm and dance and the people who document it are criticized. For all the NCAA claims to be looking after the interests of the students, we have to wonder here.
So when all else fails its time to pull out the Daisy Dukes. And I guess it's a pretty universal symbol for you know what. The famous shorts from a famous American TV Star have spread their symbolism across the world and landed squarely in the NFL. They are as universal for legs, skin, and flat bellies as America, football, and cheerleaders. Daisy Dukes go with selling the appeal of cheerleaders; they are a perfect combination, and a tradition as simple as peanut butter and jelly, smores, and skinny dipping and Summer Days. So maybe I'm off on a tangent, but what are the Tennessee Titans thinking here? Do they really need this to sell football? We're pretty sure winning would sell football better.
2 TRY OUTS
There's something about taking pictures of cheerleaders at try outs that just seems like shooting fish in a barrel. There's a lot more cliches to chose from, but how can a photographer go wrong and not get exactly what he or she wants? How difficult of an assignment is this to cover? How many girls show up for these try outs? Hundreds? Thousands? And what do they do the entire time? They smile, stretch, dance, and wear bathing suits or understated pyjamas and show skin. If a team really wanted to protect their image or halt sexism, they would close the tryout camp to the media. Either that, or make every participant wear winter clothes. Obviously this photographer seemed to be having a breeze that day.
The USC girls are also in a no win situation and surely out there to have fun in the California sun. These ladies are dancing and showing school spirit. Sure, they have a lot to be happy about. USC is a great place to go to school and even when the Trojans aren't in action, students can enjoy the Californian lifestyle. What else could anyone want? Photographers can shoot Hollywood stars, restaurants, athletes, beaches, mountains, Tahoe, the possibilities are endless. So come on all you voyeuristic peeping Toms. Let the college girls celebrate, shake dem hips, and not worry about some camera person shooting away. No, they want to live it up and enjoy, unaware that the cameras continue to roll at all times.