On Tuesday, we posted a Q&A with Tim Peeler ’87 about his new book, NC State Basketball: 100 Years of Innovation. Tim’s co-author on the project was Technician alumnus Roger Winstead ’87, who designed the book and picked the photographs (and took many of them). Roger has been a photographer at The News & Observer, where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and today is director of photography for Creative Services at NC State. He talks here about the book and some of his favorite photographs.
Roger and Tim are scheduled to do a talk and book signing tonight at 7 p.m. in the Assembly Room at D.H. Hill Library.
How did you get involved in this?
Tim and I go way back to our days working together at Technician, so when he asked if I was interested in doing this project with him, I jumped at the chance. I have always admired Tim’s writing and respected his talent — and that just made it easier for me to say yes. And of course he had no choice but to ask me because of the blackmail photos of him I have from college. That’s another book right there.
How did you develop the book’s look?
After Tim had mentioned his interest in doing this book together, I started researching books and had some ideas of what I thought would be the best look for us. I spent some good chunks of time at various bookstores scoping out books and making notes. Many historical books tend to be copy heavy and leave out the images. Tim had said early on that he really wanted to make the book as visual as space would allow and still be able to tell the Wolfpack basketball story in words. I think we have a pretty decent mix of visual and text.
How did you decide which photographs to use?
I approached editing the photos like I did while at The News & Observer. I looked at all of them and tossed out the “bad” first, and I marked the ones that I just had to have in the book no matter what. I then worked my way down from the next batch of images, winnowing out the so-so from the good. There were a few photos that I had to use because we had no others to represent a story and there were some good ones that I ran out of space and could not use at all. We could have easily added another 30 pages to the book. Having access Special Collections’ online photo gallery and digital Agromeck copies was a real life safer when it came to finding pictures from those early years.
You’ve taken a lot of pictures of Wolfpack basketball. What’s your favorite?
I’ve been photographing NC State basketball games since I was 17, so I do have quite a collection spanning almost 30 years. That makes it tough to narrow down to just one. I have a series of Spud Webb’s first dunk in Reynolds that I love. And several of Coach [Jim] Valvano that I adore. But if my life depended on choosing just one, I’d say it was the shot of Chucky Brown from my senior year. It’s a peak moment of two players reaching for a loose ball that just reads well. It’s crisp and clean, with no distractions. Faces. Ball. Action. That’s it.
Do you have a favorite coach or player you have shot over the years?
Hands down, Coach Valvano was my favorite Wolfpack basketball subject. He brought a sense of theater to the court. His dramatics made for some interesting moments and his facial expressions alone assured a nice sideline image every game. Ironically, my favorite photo of him that I ever shot was the one from behind with his arms outstretched over his head and holding up two fingers on both hands — forming “Vs” — and the block S on the court out of focus in the background. This image would not exist without Photoshop. The original negative was unprintable due to a darkroom mishap. Scanning and Photoshop allowed me to correct the mistake.
Most of the images in the book came from other photographers. What’s your favorite?
There are so many great images in the book, it’s hard to narrow down to one. A couple are so iconic that I’d be hard pressed not to mention them: Simon Griffiths’ photo of The Dunk Heard ‘Round the World, Ed Caram’s shot of an injured David Thompson lying on the floor of Reynolds and then there’s the uncredited photo of the team introduction under the spotlight. Each one captures a significant moment in NC State’s history that tells the story in a distinct and moving manner.
Is there any one image that you think captures the spirit of Wolfpack basketball?
There is a photo of Thurl Bailey after the 1983 UNC win in Reynolds Coliseum that epitomizes the total and utter joy of Wolfpack basketball to me. Thurl’s face just reads perfectly. And then there’s the uncredited image of Everett Case riding his players’ shoulders off the court for him to cut down the nets for the last time in 1965. That one speaks volumes, as well.
(Photographs courtesy of Roger Winstead ’87 and Special Collections, NCSU Libraries)