#ProfilesofTenacity: Julianna Washburn

Fourth year journalism major Julianna Washburn has always had a passion for writing and telling stories. Through her work as the recruitment manager for The Red & Black, not only is she able to write amazing stories herself, but she also gets to help other aspiring journalists share their work with the world.

Why did you choose your major?

I have been in love with writing ever since I was eight years old — no joke. Come high school, I was drawn to the one newsroom in the building. I loved the blackboards that lined the walls with sporadic chalk writing, the fast-paced energy and the stacks of newspapers everywhere. As I grew older, I truly began to realize the impact that journalism makes on the world. That’s when I knew that there was nothing else I would rather be a part of than journalism and inevitably selected it as my major in college.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?

There’s no way I can just name one! Dr. Assmann, Dr. Lough, Dr. Chiles and Dr. Peters are just a few professors that have made huge impacts on me. I’ve noticed that I refer back to the material I learned from each of these professors when I’m out in the field. Not only that, but they’ve made changed me personally. Dr. Assmann is sort of a mentor to me and always will be. She motivates me and makes me want to be a better, more hard-working journalist.

Washburn smiles with friends and co-workers at The Red & Black’s end of year banquet. (Photo/submitted)
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The Red & Black Newspaper. No doubt about it. It’s basically my whole life (I’m joking) but seriously, I’ve found a home within the words I’ve written for that publication. The people I’ve met through reporting and the people that contribute to the production of The Red & Black have impacted me in a way that I can’t describe — even as a writer. Every time I think about the late nights I spent at the newsroom to edit the Thursday paper or the early morning I spent immersed in reporting on the half marathon in Athens, my heart jumps just enough to remind me of how much love I’ve had for my time there.

What are you passionate about?
Washburn interned at KXAN News in Austin, Texas during the summer of 2022. (Photo/submitted)

I am passionate about telling stories. I absolutely revel in the process of asking one thousand questions, hearing others’ stories and getting to use creativity to put those stories into 1,000 words or less to share with others. This is how I knew I was meant to be a journalist. I found that every time I engaged in this process, I would get so lost in it. Hours began to feel like minutes and minutes like seconds. Every time I finish a story, I step back and feel so much joy in what I’ve been able to create.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students?

This is easier said than done but it’s crucial: do your best not to compare yourself to others. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is so true. Throughout college and my internship, I found myself comparing my work to the work of others and it did nothing but make me feel completely disappointed in myself. Everyone has their own, very different path to success and it’s important to focus on yours and be proud of all that you’re doing. Side note: it’s also so important to be proud of others and their successes. Don’t forget that!

What are you planning to do after you graduate?

I plan on going straight into the journalism field either working at a broadcast studio or writing for a publication! I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to be fully immersed in the journalism field and I truly cannot wait any longer!

Washburn interviews Mary Whitehurst for a story she wrote about what kind of options pregnant people have now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Whitehurst is the executive director of The Source, a crisis pregnancy center in Austin, Texas.  (Photo/submitted)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself being intertwined in a community, reporting on the stories within it. I hope I am lifting up diverse voices and stories that otherwise wouldn’t have been heard or seen if I hadn’t reported on them. I see myself on the job, interviewing and moving with excitement during the day, then typing away at night to get my stories in. I see myself coming home at the end of the day feeling elated, fulfilled and ready for the next story.

What motivates you?

When people tell me that a story that I worked on impacted them in some way. Whether it be a message from a source I spoke to for the story or someone who read it, it always means the world to me to get a message like that. That’s what the stories I work on are meant to do — teach people, impact them, create change. When I get a message like that, I know I’ve done my job and it motivates me to do even better work on the next story.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Unashamedly be yourself. Quirks and all. It’s easy to feel like you should have a certain image in order to get a job or fit in but really, you will end up where you’re happiest by being yourself throughout the entire journey in getting there. Not only that but you will leave your unique mark on people by being completely yourself. That being said, explore who you are. Go to therapy, journal, relish in alone time. You are with yourself for your entire life so it’s important to become best friends with that person and to show them some love!

Washburn poses for a picture with her Red & Black co-workers during their annual flag football game. (Photo/submitted)
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

My biggest accomplishment this past year has been serving as the Recruitment Manager for The Red & Black. R&B helped me become the journalist I am today and it means the world to be able to help others take their first steps in their journeys there. It’s also very rewarding to be able to see the accomplishments of new recruits and to help bring more journalists into this world! We need them!

Remembering Millard Grimes

Millard Grimes (ABJ ’51), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor/publisher of nearly three dozen publications and ardent supporter of The Red & Black, died May 3, 2022 at the age of 92.

Grimes received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from Grady College in 2007 and was inducted into the Grady Fellowship in its inaugural class in 2008.

“Millard represents an era of media entrepreneurship in which news companies took big swings, some hits and some misses, and Millard won way more than he lost,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College.  “He was always a presence in Athens and at Grady College. I took many a wonderful call from him, and will miss him a great deal.”

Four writers for the Red & Black in the 1950s read an issue of the paper.
Millard Grimes (third from left) wrote for The Red & Black all four years that he was a student, and served as editor of the then-daily newspaper in 1950. Others pictured include (from l. to r.): Dewey Benefield (ABJ ’53), news editor;
John Pennington (ABJ ’51), managing editor; Grimes; and Norman Friedman (ABJ ’50), business manager. (Photo: Grady College Archives)

While a student at the University of Georgia, Grimes applied at the student newspaper, The Red & Black, during one of his first weeks of school and served all four years, including working as editor in 1950. He later named a member of the paper’s first Board of Directors, when the paper became a student-run publication in 1981 and he served on the Board for eight years.

Working at The Red & Black “was the best training ground for newspaper people that you could have had,” said Grimes in a 2009 interview.

During his time as a student at UGA, Grimes was associate editor of Pandora yearbook in 1951 and was a member of the Gridiron Society, Sigma Delta Chi Honorary and Chi Psi social fraternity.

A. Mark Smith, Charles Davis and Millard Grimes
A. Mark Smith, Charles Davis and Millard Grimes at lunch in 2013. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

“Millard Grimes was a kind, thoughtful person who believed in the value of newspapers to a community and protecting and affording free speech to all,” said long-time friend A. Mark Smith, Sr (ABJ ’66), president & CEO of Smith Communications Inc. “He was a special friend to Grady College and helped many a student find a job. He was a special person.”

Grimes began his love for newspapers as a high school student starting at The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Georgia) as a proofreader and copy boy, and continuing with increased responsibilities during and after college.  He was a copy editor on The Columbus Ledger staff in 1954-55 when the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for revealing government corruption in nearby Phenix City, Alabama. By the time the Pulitzer Prize was announced, Grimes had decided to leave Columbus to start the weekly Phenix Citizen. He returned to Columbus in 1956 working for newspapers in that city for several years, culminating in his job as editor-in-chief of Columbus Enquirer from 1963 to 1969.

Over the course of the next 50 years, Grimes would serve in a number of publisher and editor roles of numerous publications throughout the southeast. In 1977 he founded Grimes Publications, a company that owned and operated more than 30 daily and weekly newspapers in Georgia and Alabama including The Rockdale Citizen (Conyers, Georgia), Clayton News Daily (Jonesboro, Georgia) and the weekly Athens Observer, among others. Grimes also owned and operated two statewide magazines, Georgia Trend and Georgia Journal, of which Grimes was publisher and editor from 1988 to 1998.

Millard Grimes talks with a student.
Millard Grimes talks with a student in this undated picture. (Photo: Ruhanna Neal)

“Millard Grimes bought and sold, launched and expanded more newspapers than I can recall,” Davis said.

Not surprisingly, Grimes read three or four newspapers daily for many years, according to Smith.

Grimes served as president of the Georgia Press Association in 1985-86; president of the Magazine Association of Georgia in 1996-97; and vice president of the Alabama Press Association in 1981-82.

In 2020, at the age of 90-years-old, Grimes self-published his first novel, “The Last New Dealer.”

At the time of his Fellowship induction in 2008, Grimes shared his views about the state of the newspaper industry. He pulled the following quote from the book “The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and Its Newspapers since World War II,” that he wrote in 1985.

Grimes began by quoting the French historian Alexis De Tocqueville: “A newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same moment.  A newspaper is an adviser that does not require to be sought, but comes to you without distracting your private affairs.  Newspapers therefore become more necessary as men become more equal individuals.  To suppose that newspapers only serve to protect freedom is to diminish their importance; they maintain civilization.”

Grimes continued with his thoughts: “De Tocqueville wrote those words in the 1830s, when he could not have imagined how much more pervasive newspapers and other media would become.  The demise of newspapers and the printed word has been forecast during all of the 60 years I have worked in print journalism, and if that time is finally at hand, it will be a shame, not only for newspapers, but for “maintaining civilization,” a task the printed word still performs most ably as De Tocqueville recognized so many years ago.”

A nearly 90-minute interview with Grimes can be viewed here.  It was filmed in 2009 as part of the Georgia Politics Oral History Project through the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at UGA.

The official obituary for Millard Grimes can be read here.

Grimes and his wife, Charlotte, have three children.

Millard Grimes and Claude Williams
Millard Grimes and the late Claude Williams (ABJ ’47) in 2007. (Photo: Grady College Archives)

#ProfilesOfTenacity: William Newlin

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I began my college career as an International Affairs major in SPIA. History, English, political science and economics had always been my favorite subjects, and IA seemed to bring it all together. But as an avid news consumer with a penchant for writing, I realized there was more I wanted to do. Grady allowed me to join a field with colleagues who have goals beyond themselves. I knew it would give me the leeway to find my passion and the opportunity to write with purpose.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

To me, tenacity is a willingness to leave your comfort zone to get what you need, whether in your personal life or professional pursuits. In journalism, it’s not backing down in the face of authority. It’s being dogged, nosy and courageous. In life, it’s sticking to your values and reaching for your goals no matter the obstacles. 

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about improving public debate through good journalism. I think the best reporting keeps important issues centered in our collective consciousness and directs attention to topics that might otherwise fall through the cracks. We need to have more fact-based debate in all aspects of American life, and I’m excited to contribute to that throughout my career.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The Red & Black. After joining in fall 2019, I immediately found a group of people who both supported me and created the environment of healthy competition that shaped me as a reporter. Over two years of reporting and editing from contributor all the way to managing editor, I honed my writing, fact-finding and storytelling skills. It was the real-world experience I needed to feel confident in my abilities as a professional journalist and leader.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

In March, I presented original research at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Midwinter Conference. The idea originated in a research theory class the previous fall, and I developed my topic and method alongside Dr. Karin Assmann. Focused on the rhetoric of Fox News’ Sean Hannity, I found the data needed for the project, learned to use a new analysis software and wrote a lengthy paper that was accepted by the AEJMC. Despite taking the non-thesis route in my graduate program, I’m excited to leave with a tangible piece of scholarship. My goal is to submit the finished article for publication in a political communication journal.  

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

Find something interesting in every assignment. Even if you’re covering what seems like the driest beat in the world, there are always people, trends and storylines to keep you and your audience engaged. 

Who is your professional hero?

A few people come to mind. As exemplars of my first journalistic passion – sports writing (specifically baseball) – Tony Kornheiser and Jeff Passan are at the top. Their reporting chops and undeniable style continue to inform my approach to writing. I also greatly admire CNN’s Clarissa Ward and NBC’s Richard Engel. They’re in the most important places at the most important times, and I hope to emulate their unflinching courage to whatever extent I can. And if I had to throw in a historical hero, it would have to be Edward R. Murrow. Aside from the obvious reasons, who doesn’t want a catchphrase?

What are you planning to do after obtaining your degree?

I plan to hit the ground running as a reporter. With experience in sports, news and features, I’m excited to get started and adapt to new challenges.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

It might surprise people that I make music – sort of. I play the drums, can strum a guitar, and I’m oddly decent at composing piano music, which I’ve translated into a few songs. Some are on SoundCloud, and some are just for me. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

The Founders Memorial Garden on North Campus is and always will be my favorite spot. It was my between-classes refuge freshman year and continues to be a peaceful place when I need some quiet time in nature. 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Jacqueline GaNun

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I had been contemplating the idea of pursuing journalism since junior year of high school because I loved writing and talking to people, and especially loved the idea of informing people of what is going on in the world. I visited UGA when I was in high school and picked up a copy of The Red & Black, and from then on, I was hooked. I joined The Red & Black as soon as I arrived in Athens and realized how fulfilling and interesting journalism was. I want to tell stories that matter, and Grady has the classes and extracurricular opportunities to help me do that.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

To me, tenacity means pursuing your goals relentlessly and not giving up when you run into obstacles or self-doubt. 

What are you passionate about?

Traveling and education are two of my biggest passions. I feel that traveling is itself a form of education. There are things that you just can’t learn in a classroom. Lifelong learning is incredibly important to me and is also crucial for people to make well-informed decisions that will positively impact their lives. These passions are both intertwined with my career goal of being a reporter who gets to travel — I hope to both educate myself about people’s stories and to educate others so that they can make positive decisions. 

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

This answer is easy — The Red & Black has impacted the entire trajectory of my life. Joining the first semester of my freshman year made it possible for me to realize the passion I have for storytelling and journalism. The numerous mentors that have taught me and helped me at R&B have also hugely impacted me both personally and professionally. 

GaNun is currently studying abroad at the University of Oxford.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Some of my work was published in The New York Times in March 2021, an experience that still feels surreal. One of the national desk editors emailed about needing a stringer to cover a shooting that happened in Atlanta, and I drove there to help cover the aftermath. I am proud of myself for saying “yes” to the offer despite anxiety that I felt and of the hours I spent traveling and interviewing people. It was truly an incredible experience that I was very lucky to have had.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

My mom is one of my biggest role models for many reasons, but one of the most impactful is how she approaches life through a lens of constant learning. She taught me that nobody knows everything and that I should always strive to learn new things about people and the world.

Who is your professional hero?

I look up to many figures in the media, but foreign correspondents who put their life on the line to tell stories from the front line are my personal heroes. I just read an autobiography by Clarissa Ward about her journey to become a conflict journalist and found it incredibly inspiring and enlightening. She tells stories about tenacity, both from her and from the people she has met around the world.

What is your favorite app or social media channel and why?

Twitter is my favorite app (as many journalists would say). I love being exposed to different viewpoints from people and following reporters that I admire to learn more about them and their reporting process.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I lived in Okinawa, off the coast of Japan, on a military base when I was younger.

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

North Campus is amazing because it’s so peaceful and beautiful. I love walking on the paths or sitting in the sun with a drink from Starbucks or Bubble Café.


There for the Big Games: Red & Black staff discuss covering the Orange Bowl and National Championship

Editor’s Note: The following article, written by Eva Pound for The Red & Black, features several of its reporters and photojournalists who covered the UGA football team’s playoff and championship games. We are reprinting it here with permission from The Red & Black since many of those featured are Grady College students or recently-graduated alumni including Jessica Gratigny, Drew Hubbard (AB ’21), Jake Jennings (AB ’21), Katherine Lewis and Kathryn Skeean.


The Red & Black is an independent, private, student-run newsroom, and we are grateful for the experiential opportunities it provides for students.


It originally appeared on The Red & Black website January 25, 2022.

Covering a high-profile championship game is a challenge in itself, but for Red & Black reporters heading to the Orange Bowl, complications arose well before they reached Miami. At the last minute, their flight was cancelled thanks to bad weather and the surge in the omicron variant.

“I was literally at Target getting flight-friendly shampoo and conditioner the second I got the text. I knew at that moment that our adventure got a little more interesting,” said Kathryn Skeean, photo editor.

“We all met in Athens to make the trip by car,” said Katherine Lewis, assistant sports editor. A full day of driving later, Skeean, Lewis and sports editor Drew Hubbard arrived in Miami to cover the game.

“That trip with Katherine Lewis and Drew Hubbard is one I will cherish forever, though,” Skeean said. “It’s hard not to bond with people you’re trapped in a car with for 12-plus hour drives.”

Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny ready to take pictures at the National Championship game.
Red & Black photo editor Kathryn Skeean (foreground) and assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny at the National Championship in Indianapolis in January 2022. Skeean and Gratigny are journalism students at Grady College. (Photo courtesy Kathryn Skeean)

The buzz around the game can cause an onset of nerves for student reporters, Hubbard said. “The challenge of covering big games like this is making sure you don’t make the moment too big, because that will freak you out and then you won’t be in the right mindset to write your stories. If I allow stress and imposter syndrome to get the best of me, then I won’t be able to produce my best work for these big games.”

Amid the national spotlight on titan football teams going head to head, student reporters must act professionally, skillfully generate stories and photographs and get into “game mode,” said Skeean.

As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs led with a score of 34-11 against the Wolverines.

“In my opinion, the most memorable moment was when I realized that Georgia was going to win and that I would be covering a team that had a shot at a national title,” Lewis said.

While photographing action on the field was exciting for Skeean, one of her highlights came during the post-game celebration, when players were tossing out oranges from the namesake trophy, and one player picked up an orange to take a bite.

“Watching Jordan Davis make a normal sized orange look like a Cutie, though, is not a blur,” said Skeean. “I saw him pick it up and I vividly remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I can’t miss this moment, this is gold.’ It has since become one of my more iconic photos, and I still crack up every time I see it.”

Skeaan’s photo of Jordan Davis snacking on an orange was the image on the front page of the digital Red & Black special edition produced a few days later, while a shot of quarterback Stetson Bennett ran on the print edition A1.


View photos from the National Championship on The Red & Black website. Photos by Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny.

Onward to Indy

When it came to the national title game between Georgia and Alabama, air travel once again became a problem. Tickets were limited, prices exorbitant and the threat of cancellations high. So the team once again opted for a road trip, with Skeean and Hubbard joined by assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny and assistant sports editor Jake Jennings.

“Just like the Orange Bowl, the National Championship game was such a blur. The first half was a battle photographically purely because of the lack of offensive action,” Skeean said. “As great as Jack Podlesny and Will Reichard are at kicking the ball through the uprights, that does not exactly make for the greatest photo gallery in the world. As we all know, the second half was a different story.”

After a battle of field goals, the action picked up in the second half of the game. “The most memorable moment from this whole postseason run was probably Kelee Ringo’s interception in the National Championship to seal the win,” Hubbard said. “Alabama still had a shot to win the game, it wasn’t a great shot but it was still possible. Georgia fans know that it’s not over until it’s over, and for sports writers, that’s true as well.”

“Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it is the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.” 
— Drew Hubbard, Red & Black sports editor

For Jennings, a highlight was the post-game player interviews. “They were so pumped up and gave really good quotes.”

As the Red & Black team made the long drive back to Athens the day after the game, a small team was at work in the newsroom on Baxter Street putting together the special edition on the national title win. The reporters made a stop on the way to get a strong enough Wi-Fi connection to upload photos and download PDFs of page proofs to review. “Working on the paper out of a Starbucks on the way home was pretty crazy, but was a cool experience,” Jennings said.

Start the presses

“I went to the printers with Charlotte. We watched the papers come off the machine and I saw the photo I had taken on the front. It was surreal,” Skeean said. “We both got emotional. I thought the emotions would end there, but boy, was I wrong. Seeing people lined up all the way down Baxter Street to pick up the paper the next day was the craziest feeling ever, and I could not be more grateful.”

Hubbard said a lot of work goes into preparing to cover a big football game, and it can be tiring. But, he added: ”Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it was the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.”

One for the history books

The work of the sports and photo team is not ending with the special edition. They are working with the Red & Black special publications team on a 100-page book to be released in February. “Delivered,” will capture the championship run, title game and recap the season, showcasing a semester of reporting and photography.

“The Red & Black has given me so much and I’ll always be grateful for my time at this paper. Not just the postseason run, but every sport I’ve gotten to cover,” Hubbard says. “Covering equestrian, softball, soccer and baseball were some of the best times, too. Now, looking back at my whole time at the paper, being able to cover one of the most historic wins in Georgia sports history is something I’ll always cherish and The Red & Black gave me that experience. I learned so much about journalism, life and leadership, and I will always be thankful for my time here.”

Graduating photojournalists put their photo skills to the test at the SEC Championship

The script could not have been written much better: photographing the SEC Championship as one of the final assignments for the Red & Black before wrapping up their college career.  For graduating Grady College photojournalists Reann Huber and Casey Sykes, the stage was set for them to show off the skills they had learned and the talents they have been honing.

Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) holds up the SEC Championship trophy with Georgia head coach Kirby Smart after winning the SEC Championship. (Photo/Reann Huber, www.reannhuber.com)
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) holds up the SEC Championship trophy with Georgia head coach Kirby Smart after winning the SEC Championship. (Photo/Reann Huber, www.reannhuber.com)

“The SEC Championship not only reminded me how fun this job is, but it also got me excited for what other championships I’ll hopefully shoot later in my career,” Sykes, a staff photographer for the Red & Black said of the assignment. “The atmosphere is just so unique, and whether the team you’re covering wins or loses, there’s so much emotion, so great photos happen regardless.”

For Huber, shooting the SEC Championship was a perfect segue into what she will do next as a multimedia intern at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a position Sykes is just finishing.

“I think this experience helped me a lot to prepare for my internship,” Huber, the Red & Black’s assistant photo editor, reflected. “Sports photography is something I really want to do in the future and I look forward to continuing that post-graduation.”

Just as deadlines rule in the real world, the Red & Black was publishing real-time stories during the game on its website and published a special 8-page extra edition Sunday night, featuring photographs by Sykes and Huber, and editorial features by Grady Sports Media Certificate students Emily Giambalvo and Nathan Berg.

As they prepare for graduation next week, and their next internships (Sykes heads to Michigan six-month photo internship at the Grand Rapids Press/MLive), they shared some thoughts about what it was like to photograph the electrick atmosphere at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the Georgia Bulldogs were crowned SEC champions.

Grady College: How do you prepare to cover a game like the SEC Championship?

Reann Huber: One of the first things I do, and I do before every game, is double check my gear. Make sure all cameras, lenses, cards, and hard drives are working properly without any glitches because there is no time to have any issues before, during, or after the game. You also have to be well versed in who the key players are on both teams, offense, defense and coaches. The last of my main preparation for this game was understanding what shots I need and when I needed to get them in by. Putting out our special edition paper the day after the game could not have been done if we did not plan our shots beforehand.

Grady College: Other than location, how was photographing the SEC Championship different than a typical college football game?

Casey Sykes:   The nerves. I felt queasy for a week leading up to the game because I was so nervous and excited. They were totally gone halfway through the first quarter, though.

GC: Tell us about the timeline of your day?

A favorite photo by Sykes. Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson (21) puts in his earbuds while walking back to the Auburn locker room after a team prayer two hours before the start of the SEC Championship game. (Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)
A favorite photo by Sykes. Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson (21) puts in his earbuds while walking back to the Auburn locker room after a team prayer two hours before the start of the SEC Championship game. (Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)

CS: We got there around 10 a.m. and walked around and shot tailgating activities until we were allowed to pick up our credentials at noon. Then, we got situated in the press room, sent off tailgating photos, made sure code replacements, captions, hard drive files, etc. were all in place for the game, ate a quick lunch, and went to shoot Georgia players getting to the stadium at 2 p.m. After that, we went back to the photo room to edit and send off what we had of those. Then we got out on the field around 3:20 to get ready to shoot the game. We shot pre-game and the first half and came back in at halftime to send in our selects from the first half, which was at about 6 p.m. Then we went back out, shot the second half and post-game, and came back to edit and send off those ones, probably at around 8:15 p.m., which was great because the special SEC paper of The Red & Black had a 9:00 p.m. deadline. Then, we hung out a bit longer in the photo room, I edited a few more of my favorites, and we went to hang with the writers (Nathan Berg and Emily Giambalvo) in the press box while they finished up their stories. We headed out from the stadium around 11:30 p.m.

GC: What facets of your Grady photojournalism education prepared you to cover this event so well?

RH:  I could not have done what I did on Saturday night without the experience that I have gained going through the photojournalism program at Grady. While I know there are certain photos that I know I have to make, I have been taught to look for more than just what is right in front of me. There is always a story that needs to be told and I have learned to be able to effectively try to tell either side of the story, win or lose in this situation.

CS: Professor Mark Johnson always emphasizes the importance of people over things, and I’ve always tried to carry that with me when I shoot sports. He says stuff like, ‘don’t show me the game, show me what it means’. That goes a long way.

GC: We know the trophy presentation was chaotic. How did you position yourselves so well to get the incredible images that you did?

RH: The presentation of the championship trophy was probably the most chaotic photo situation that I have ever been placed in. To make a dynamic photo, I’ve been taught to either get higher or lower and with the crowd pooling around the stage, I knew I needed to get up as high as I could. Thankfully, they had a smaller side stage set up for photographers to photograph from that I could get up to. Granted, a lot of pushing and shoving was happening and that was one of the only ways to get where I needed to be but it turned out for the better in the long run.

CS:  I made sure to secure the giant telephoto lens 5 minutes before the end of the 4th quarter to lighten my load, and then I edged as close to the Georgia bench as the police would let me as the clock wound down. Then at the final spike I literally full-on sprinted toward the center of the field to get the coach handshake shot which only kind of worked. After that, I looked for Fromm, Chubb, any other notable playmakers in sight and shot whatever they were doing. The actual trophy presentation was chill because they were up on a stage and the photographers just kind of assembled in front of them. Reann was obviously doing something right though! Her shots from that are so killer.

GC: How many pictures did you take? How many were keepers vs. those that were tossed?

RH: Between pre-game and the entirety of the game, I took just under 3,000 photos. I have found that in most situations I get 10-15% of my images that I take I can actually use and that number decreases even more now that I know what will be good for paper or our online galleries.

CS: The total photos I took was 3640. About 200 were keepers. Maybe only 5% ever see the light of day.

GC: It appeared that you both were all places at the right time. How do you plan your work flow when you photograph a game as large as this one?

RH: After shooting football a number of times, both Casey and I have a good grasp at knowing where and when to be at the right time. We balance it out to where we both photograph from opposite sides and we never stop moving. Staying in one spot for the entirety of a quarter is not going to get you a good variety of photos so you have to be able to keep moving and know when and where you should be.

GC: Do you have a favorite picture from the event? If so, which one and why?

CS: I do, and it actually has nothing to do with Georgia. Maybe two hours before kickoff, Reann pointed out that Auburn was gathered in the center of the field praying as a team. Immediately I started looking for Kerryon Johnson, their star running back, but I had only seen a handful of photos of him while looking him up on Google the night before, so I only had a vague recollection of what he looked like, plus they didn’t have their jerseys on. I finally recognized him just after the huddle broke. I suppose he’s used to the press, so he thankfully ignored me as I backpedaled two feet in front of him while shooting, and he started to put in his earbuds with a sort of determined, thousand-yard stare. It was so cool to see because in that moment, just from his body language, I knew he’d be playing in the game. I didn’t even notice the Georgia and Auburn symbols above him until I started editing and that was just the cherry on top. My favorite moments to shoot are always intimate moments like that, that no one else would get to see. When I manage to find them, I definitely feel like I’ve used my access well and have done my job that day.

Highlights of the pictures that Huber and Sykes took of the SEC Championship for the Red & Black are below:

  • Georgia players run out on the field before the start of the SEC Championship game between the #2 Auburn Tigers and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017. (Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)

To view the complete photo albums that Huber and Sykes photographed for the Red & Black, please view:

SEC Championship/First Half

SEC Championship/Second Half