Experience

The shot viewed round the world

Jan Garrison

Gracie Farrall/Indiana Athletics

 

Farrall captures classic moment

 

January 25, 2022

Gracie Farrall ’19 knew she had the shot of Indiana University junior guard Rob Phinisee before she even got back the studio. It was one of a dozen photos she had tagged while winding her way down to the second floor from the balcony at IU’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Farrall, a student intern at IU’s Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology, was one of three photographers staffing the men’s basketball game against arch-rival Purdue on Jan. 20. They met at halftime to discuss postgame coverage. Weighing the emotions of the packed crowd, it was decided two photographers would stay courtside in case IU won and the students rushed on to the court. Farrall, known as the floater, would walk up to the balcony, located on row KK, to cover the melee from above.

Her photo of Trayce Jackson-Davis lifting Phinisee, the unexpected hero in IU’s  thrilling 68-65 win over then No. 4 Purdue, above the crowd became THE PHOTO of the game, possibly the season. It has been retweeted and shared so many times on different social media channels that Farrall has no idea of how far and wide it has spread. The numbers she knows are 3,000 likes on her personal Twitter account, 4,000 likes on the “Martha the Mop Lady” (named after an old Farm Bureau Insurance promotion) account, and more than 13,500 on the official IU Hoosiers Instagram account. The IUBarstool account also picked up the photo.

The overnight viral numbers were significant enough that she was interviewed for stories by Matt Cohen of The Indy Star and Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, a national online sports publication, Friday morning. It’s heady stuff for the college junior who first picked up a camera while at Culver Academies. She knew the photo was good, but she didn’t imagine in her wildest dreams that it would take off like it did.

“No, not at all,” she said. “Truthfully, I was grateful I was the first one in the studio after the game.”

The social media people were wanting to get images of the celebration out as soon as possible and the other two photographers were still caught up in the crowd. Being located in the balcony made it easier for Farrall to reach the studio. That gave her the opportunity to upload her photos first.

 

Farrall carrying two cameras at a basketball game.

 

Using a Canon DX1 and a 300mm lens, Farrall estimates she took close to 400 shots in five minutes. Fortunately, she had just retrieved a fresh SD card from the office with just 56 seconds left in the game.  “I had forgotten to get one,” she said, “so I ran back downstairs to get it with three minutes left. I knew I had time with the TV timeouts.”

She got back in position. The game ended. The celebration started. The students rushed the court. Farrall hit the shutter button.

“I actually started off following Trey (Galloway ’20) because he had the ball,” she said. “Then I found Rob and decided to stay with him since he was the star of the game.”

Phinisee had a career-high 20 points, including the clinching 3-point shot with 16.5 seconds left. In the middle of the crowded floor, he suddenly popped up above everyone as Jackson-Davis lifted him in the air. Just for an instant, but long enough for Farrall to capture it.

Heading back to the office, she quickly did some editing on the camera’s screen, “keying” her top 12 shots from the celebration. She then downloaded her selected shots on the computer, did a quick color correction thanks to a preset filter, and let the social media people work their magic.

“It didn’t take very long at all,” she said of getting the photo online. It hit while the celebration was still winding down. “It was still fresh in everyone’s mind.”

 

Working the practice sidelines this fall.

 

The photo has been called “iconic” more times than Farrall can imagine. Many IU fans want to buy a copy, which caught the staff a little off-guard. They are now trying to work through the details of putting it up for public sale, she explained.

But Farrall won’t be seeing any of the profits. All the rights to the photo belong to the university. Don’t feel too bad for her, though, because her name will be attached to it forever. The official tagline that runs with the photo is “Gracie Farrall/Indiana Athletics.” Not a bad trade-off at this point in her young career.

Farrall became interested in photography while at Culver. After getting her first camera, she learned how to use it shooting photos of her friends on campus. When she went to IU, she decided to take a photography class. That is when she decided to take it seriously. She is now one of Culver’s preferred photographers.

She joined the Cuban Center staff in November 2020 after a friend sent her a notice that the center was looking for interns. She went through the interview process and was selected. Now she covers all 24 varsity sports, including football and basketball. Her beat this week includes the men’s and women’s home basketball games. She will also be picking up baseball and softball when those seasons start in February. As the third shooter, she doesn’t travel with the teams.

The Cuban Center is designed to give students a strong background in the many different media-related fields connected to athletics. The center supplies all the equipment. While Gracie is involved in photography, her twin sister Sammie ’19 is part of the center's graphic design team. Her work is regularly displayed on the electronic scoreboards during games.

For Farrall, all the attention has been unexpected, but exciting and fun, too. But what does she do for an encore? She worries she may have already taken the most memorable shot of her career after just 15 months.

“I asked my parents ‘What if I’m just a one-hit wonder?’” she said. What did dad Greg ’88, who played football at IU, and mom Liz say?

“They just laughed.”

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