Every year at the BNP Paribas Open, a group of tennis photograph enthusiasts come together to form an elite squad. Ball on String photography better known as BOS consists of only three members including Jason, Chris, and senior staff member, Daniel. This year I was able to infiltrate the secret club and interview each of the members with the hopes of one day becoming BOS.
How did BOS photgraphy come about?
Daniel- It happened two years ago at the BNP Paribas Open. There was really no official starting point. It was the natural challenge of timing the ball perfectly on the strings of the racquet during an action shot. I think it is the most respected shot in tennis.
Chris- I agree. It just happened one day sitting on stadium court one at the end of a long day. There is one major rule of BOS photography and that is you get one click. Rapid fire is considered cheating and grounds for removal of the club
Jason- We were trying to get the best and hardest shot possible, having the ball pictured right on the strings. Being a fan of acronyms, I came up with the term BOS.
What is your most memorable BOS?
Jason- I think everyone’s most memorable BOS is their first time. I believe my first BOS was Nadal on the practice court with one eye open and one eye closed.
Chris- I have two. The first is getting BOS of Juan Martin del Potro’s serve on my camera phone at the US Open 2013 on center court. The second would be getting BOS on my first try in 2013 on the practice courts of the BNP Paribas Open of Janko Tipsarevic hitting a forehand.
Daniel- One time I blindfolded myself and got BOS of Rafael Nadal on stadium court at the BNP Paribas Open. (Note: there are rumors that he has achieved the over the shoulder BOS as well.)
Who has the most BOS photos?
Daniel- Probably myself. Although the young guns are definitely catching up under my guidance.
Chris- Daniel, for sure. He is the original BOS member
Jason- I agree, Daniel. Although, it will be quite debatable after this event.
How do you join BOS photography?
Chris- There is only one way in and you have to get BOS. No exceptions.
Daniel- BOS is by invite only. There is no way to apply for it, you just become it.
Jason- This is an elite group and you have to be asked to join. It is like the Navy SEALs of photography. Lastly, you have to know our theme song, “I’m Bossy” by Kelis.
One tip for BOS?
Jason-Practice, practice, practice. Grit and determination are key. The will and desire to get BOS is most important.
Daniel- Confidence and keeping your shutter speed up.
Chris- Start with the serve. It is the easiest BOS to get. Once you get BOS on the serve, you can move on to more difficult shots. Oh, and don’t forget to remove the lens cap.
What is the most difficult BOS shot?
Chris- The return of serve.
Jason- For me it’s mental, I just can’t get the serve. The serve BOS is my Mount Everest.
Daniel- For me, it’s the volley. It happens very quickly and the player is often moving in unpredictable directions.
While, I haven’t gotten any BOS yet myself I hope to one day make the club. Maybe next year.