Archbishop Wood Sends Talented Student Photographer to Super Bowl XLV
Michael Pronzato’s football photo wins him four tickets to this weekend’s game.
Sports images have a unique way of captivating public attention. Perhaps you remember Kirk Gibson’s World Series homerun sprint, overcoming the pain he was suffering to make it to home base. Or maybe you recall the images of high flying Michael Jordan slam dunking a basketball with his tongue out. The human drama involved in sports easily captures our attention – in person and on film.
Quality sports shots are somewhat difficult to come by. Most people have limited access to events to photograph them. The further away you are from the event, the harder it becomes to capture the event in the heat of the moment. Nothing is more intimidating than to be on the sidelines of a football game, focused on a play in the field, when out of the blue a 250 pound line backer drives a player into your legs or a foul ball comes crashing at your $8,000 lens.
But that was just the risk Michael Pronzato took on a cool Oct. 9, 2010, night during the Archbishop Wood vs. Haverford football game.
Pronzato, a junior at Archbishop Wood High School, was named the winner of the Canon and Pro Football Hall of Fame "Why Do You Love Football? Amateur Photo Challenge."
The winning photo, entitled "Giving a Full Effort for the Touchdown," is a shot of Archbishop Wood star running back Desmon Peoples diving into the end zone during the Vikings' 48-20 win over Haverford.
Wood ended up winning big that night on the gridiron. Pronzato, as it turns out, won even bigger behind his lens, snapping the Grand Prize winning shot in the NFL/Cannon Teen Amateur Photo contest.
Learning about the NFL/Cannon contest from friend Felicia Yabor and her family, Pronzato was encouraged to enter the contest by his friend Colin Thompson, who plays football at Wood, and his father.
After more than four months and thousands of entries in 2010's Photo Contest, Pronzato was notified of his Grand Prize win earlier this year. The judging panel, which reviewed thousands of entries, included Archie Manning, former NFL quarterback and father of two Super Bowl MVPs; Peter Read Miller, Canon Explorer of Light and Sports Illustrated photographer; along with other prominent staff photographers and photo editors.
The voting was then turned over to the fans, who determined the first place winner in each category and ultimately the overall grand prize winners from the pool. Pronzato said he was grateful for all the support and votes he got from Wood students and staff.
Pronzato, a17-year-old Warrington resident, earned himself a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have his winning photo displayed for one year beginning in August 2011, in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio. Pronzato also won trip for four to the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Celebration this August.
Canon has awarded Pronzato with a brand new Canon T2I camera, along with a Canon Pixma printer. Pronzato, who plans to continue to work on his photographic skills, said that “I’m lucky just to get this recognition.”
But his winnings don’t stop there. Pronzato also won a trip for four to the big Super Bowl XLV game on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.
Pronzato is taking his parents, as well as his friend Colin Thompson, whose family urged the budding photographer to start taking photos of Wood's sports teams this past season. They will be heading to Dallas Friday morning.
An avid skateboarder himself, Pronzato noticed that he “was really taking a lot of photos of my friends skateboarding and people started telling me I should shoot sports for the school. I kind of took off from there and now I post my photos on a website so the parents can have them.”
Originally leery of getting involved with sports photography, Pronzato has worked to hone his skills and now shoots not only football but many other high school sports as well. Pronzato said he shoots about three games a week now and has been dubbed "Archbishop Wood's sports photographer," according to Principal Mary Harkins.
Pronzato seems to have a keen ability to anticipate the action on a sporting field. There is an old saying in sports photography that says "If you see the action you missed it." A good photographer knows that he must push the button before the action - through experience, an outstanding sports photographer learns what that time is and adjusts for it.
Pronzato has clearly mastered that art at a very young age. Self-taught, he has been dabbling in photography for about four years, but has only taken up the art form in earnest this year.
Pronzato said he is looking into the possibility of taking photography classes this summer. With plans to attend college or university somewhere in Florida where he can work on his golf game, Pronzato is currently interested in studying business as his major, and minoring in photography
As for the Super Bowl, Pronzato said he is very excited to get on the plane and land in Dallas on Friday. He will be met by Peter Read Miller, Canon’s head photographer, who will present Pronzato with his award.
Another old adage in photography is that it is “not the equipment but the photographer who makes the picture." Every once in a while, good equipment and talented eyes combine in a special way to create something like magic. The NFL and Canon thought that Michael Pronzato captured the magic of sports photography this year.
Check out Pronzato's web site to see more of his photography. And make sure to follow this article this weekend – Michael Pronzato will be sending messages from the Super Bowl to describe his experience.