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AP photographers capture defining images of Tiger and Trump

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This week we celebrate two very different, yet equally important photo wins. David Phillip and the AP photo team assigned to the Masters tournament created some of the iconic images of Tiger Woods’ historic win – the result of strategic planning, teamwork and execution. And Pablo Martinez Monsivais wins for his startling capture of the media reflected in the eye of President Donald Trump, taking what could easily have been treated as just another ho-hum daily Trump photo op and “seeing” something so different.

For delivering outstanding images from two contrasting and highly competitive assignments – and demonstrating how vital the AP is in the photojournalism world – Phillip and Monsivais share AP’s Best of the Week Award.

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Tiger Woods putts on the 15th hole during the final round for the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., April 14, 2019. – AP Photo / Charlie Riedel

The Masters golf tournament is known as the Super Bowl of golf, but it’s nothing like the Super Bowl. Its uniqueness is in its traditions: no sponsors, no phones, no cameras and no electronics allowed on the course. For most professional sporting events we cover, technology plays a huge role in delivering our photos very fast. At the Masters, however, restrictions on the use of technology on the golf course mean that strategy and teamwork take center stage as we compete to deliver images to the world.

When Houston photographer David Philip took his iconic reaction shots of Tiger Woods on the 18th green, it had a very little to do with luck and everything to do with the experience and teamwork of the AP photo crew. The crew had meticulously planned to be in the right spot at the right moment and for Milwaukee photographer Morry Gash to know how to access the correct images of the winning moment first before looking at any other images.

Being prepared at the 18th hole for the winning shot required strategy. After covering several holes, Orange County, California-based photographer Chris Carlson went to the 18th green to make sure their five previously marked shooting positions were secured, even though the leaders were only at the 7th hole. The other AP shooters – Philadelphia’s Matt Slocum, Kansas City’s Charlie Riedel and Los Angeles’ Marcio Sanchez — got into position one by one and waited for the final putt.

Gash had diagrammed the 18th green so he would know exactly where each photographer was positioned. He watched the tournament on TV from the editing room and as Tiger Woods reacted to his victory, Gash determined which photographer would have had the best angle to get the shot, based on his diagram. David Philip had the best angle, so Gash looked at his images first. Gash selected images, cropped them in several different ways to satisfy all our customers’ needs and gave the images to South Regional photo editor Mike Stewart, who toned and captioned the images and filed them live to the wire.

One metric sums it up: Tiger’s reaction happened at 2:26 p.m. Eastern Time (in camera metadata) and the first photos moved at 2:35 p.m., less than nine minutes later. And because of the tournament’s restrictions, it all had to be done manually – a runner had to push through the crowd to get the right card delivered so it could be ingested and edited in the middle of the course. That is SPEED.

First photos of Woods celebrating were in the hands of AP customers in nine minutes.

As a result, Phillip’s photos led many websites and took up a lot of real estate on newspaper front pages the next morning. Many other images by AP staffers got great play as well. London-based regional photo editor Tony Hicks says he has rarely seen such a sweep of play in the British media.

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On the day of the tournament:
– AP’s top nine photo downloads of the day were all from the Masters
– 40% of all downloads were from the Masters

Not unlike the golfers that compete in this prestigious tournament, the AP photo crew won the play with talent, experience and determination – but also with teamwork.

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Back in Washington, as President Donald Trump – not on a golf course – prepared for a White House departure on Marine One, photographer Pablo Martinez Monsivais joined dozens of reporters and photographers on the South Lawn for what promised to be a routine photo op. To complicate matters, Monsivais realized he would be shooting straight into the sun – hardly an ideal situation.

As Trump strode over to the pack of journalists, Pablo began shooting, then looked for unique images that would make AP’s photos stand out from the pack. Before Trump even finished speaking, Monsivais was transmitting straight from his camera to the Washington photo desk. Another job in the books, right?

Returning to his desk inside the White House though, Monsivais started going through the rest of his photos. One stood out: an image of the media scrum, clearly reflected in a close-up of Trump’s eye. To make sure his own eyes weren’t deceiving him, Pablo asked a photographer from a competing news organization to look and see if he saw the same thing. He did.

Monsivais moved the photo on the wire,then posted a black and white version on social media. It quickly went viral,with thousands of likes and retweets,as journalists and commentators noted how amazing it was that a single image could capture the relationship between Trump and the press. CNN did a segment on the image,featuring an interview with Pablo. The CBS Washington bureau chief even circulated the photo to his staff.

In the finest expression of AP’s photojournalism, Pablo’s shooting and editing elevated the routine to the sublime. He told the AP Images blog,“Just when I thought I’ve seen it all or done it all, photos like this one happen. I’m just lucky to be part of this.”

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