Behind the lens of the Stanley Cup celebration
Penguins team photographer Gregory Shamus has been capturing action — on and off the ice — for nine seasons.
Photo above: Penguins photographer Gregory Shamus drinks from the Stanley Cup in the team's locker room celebration after the win.
BY ALEXANDER POPICHAK
When the Penguins won the Stanley Cup on Sunday, images streamed out across the world of the team that made it happen.
These photographs captured the drama and elation of a team crowned the best in its sport, but to hear team photographer Gregory Shamus tell it, the fanfare was the start of a family celebration.
Shamus is from the Detroit area — and still lives there. (He commutes to work and has been on the road for the past 17 days with the Pens. His wife and children will join him in Pittsburgh today for the victory parade before he takes some well-deserved time off.)
He received his bachelor of fine arts degree from the College for Creative Studies in Michigan and has worked in sports ever since, shooting high school games, then the NBA's Detroit Pistons, the University of Michigan and countless other teams, working often for Getty Images as well.
Shamus has been the Penguins' team photographer since the 2007-2008 season, capturing moments from the 2009 Cup win, too.
"I know it's a cliché and you hear it all the time, but there's truth to it that there's nothing like playoff hockey," Shamus told upgruv.
He said that as team photographer, playoff hockey means that because every moment counts — on and off the ice — he starts to focus on moments in the locker room and behind the scenes, things fans generally don't get a chance to see.
He said in covering Sunday's win, he followed what he did in 2009.
"2009, I don't want to say was a surprise, but being a Game 7 in Detroit, there was not as much anticipation of winning (as with this time around)," he said.
The night went a bit like this: He arrived at the arena 5 hours before the game to start setting up equipment. He photographed the warmups and game action, all while thinking about the postgame.
There's an anxiety of sorts that comes along with covering the Stanley Cup playoffs, he said.
As a team photographer, "If we win, we're documenting the most important day of players' professional lives."
Shamus said he was relieved when Patric Hornqvist scored the empty-netter with about a minute to go. That was the point he knew it was time to gear up for the postgame celebration.
"For general media, it's all about the superstars," Shamus said. "For me, it's anybody and everybody on the team."
Shamus said his favorite images from the night are not for their artistic depth, but for the relationships they illustrate. In particular, his current favorite happened after Sidney Crosby hoisted the cup.
Crosby, hoisting the Cup, skated over to the team, kicked his leg up and let out a scream of pure joy, Shamus said.
Below is another angle of the same shot by the Associated Press. Check out Shamus' version.
Beyond that, Shamus' favorites were with the equipment and PR teams, people who support the Pens behind the scenes all season.
"Knowing how hard the staff worked, and getting pictures of them alongside players and the Cup," Shamus said. "In the end, we are just a big family."
Shamus said Crosby served as bartender in the locker room, making sure everyone had their chance to drink from Lord Stanley's Cup. Shamus said Crosby looked at him and told him he needed to take his turn.
"For me, documenting (the night) is what I'm there for. It's great that (the players) share in it all."