From the Ground Up: Panini America Peeks the Future of NHL Trading Card Imagery
The future of NHL trading card photography is looking up — literally. That much became refreshingly apparent late last August during the 2012 NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto, when renowned sports photographer Gregory Shamus, one of Panini America’s sharpest-shooters, took an innovative leap forward while appearing to take a few giant steps below the surface.
The revolutionary results — including 2012 No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov and 2011-12 rookie sensation Chris Kreider as seen from a truly unique, beneath-the-ice perspective — will finally make their appearance in 2013-14 Score Hockey’s Future Team Score insert, and they’ll most definitely will change the way you look at hockey cards.
The idea started as a suggestion from Shamus, a Pittsburgh Penguins team photographer who has experimented with the concept a few times in the past. Panini America’s Jeff Olsen (Photo Editor), Brandon Lesley (Creative Director) and Karvin Cheung (NHL Brand Manager) loved the idea and were anxious to see it executed inside Toronto’s MasterCard Centre during last year’s Showcase.
And so they did — with Shamus on his back as 29 of hockey’s next generation of superstars took their turn perched precariously above him — in skates — atop a piece of Plexiglas.
“We’re always looking at how to push the envelope, whether it’s with autographs, memorabilia or photography,” Cheung said. “We strive to bring something to collectors outside the usual, and photo ideas and photo selection are critical to the success of that process and of our products.”
Although many of the players expressed at least some preliminary trepidation about ascending to their temporary Plexiglas pedestal, they took solace in the fact that it was constructed to withstand 1,000 pounds. They took even more solace in the finished product.
“The photos are spectacular,” Cheung said. “We had several players asking how they could get the photos afterward because they were so unique and unlike anything they’d ever seen. We can’t wait to see how collectors react to the cards when 2013-14 Score Hockey releases in late July.”
We previewed the image of Yakupov above. Below is a complete gallery of the Future Team Score insert set and a few shots of the process in action. But before you get to the pics, take two minutes to check out this exclusive video showing how Yakupov and the Montreal Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk tackled the unique photo station during the 2012 NHLPA Rookie Showcase.