2022: The Year in Photos
A look back at some of the most memorable photographs and moments from the past year through the lens and words of UVA Athletics Director of Photography Matt Riley.
JPJ IN THE SNOW
An early January snow blanketed Virginia to start 2022 and John Paul Jones Arena always looks magical with the snow coming down.
Women’s lacrosse defeated California in a frigid battle at Klöckner Stadium with constant snow showers in early 2022 and the images of sports being played in the snow isn’t something you see everyday. As a photographer, I’ve always wanted to capture a game in the snow and this was my first time doing so in my time at UVA.
REECE CALLS GAME AT CAMERON!
With one second left, Reece Beekman drained a three in front of the Cameron Crazies at Cameron Indoor Stadium to give UVA a 69-68 win over No. 7 Duke. In the famed, venerable gym known for its raucous crowd in the tiny space, hearing the silence was pretty amazing. I was lucky enough to get a clear shot of Reece in front of the Crazies and this one will always be a memory high on my list of incredible moments I’ve been lucky enough to witness with the UVA men’s basketball program.
Some days at work are more fun than others. When the question was posed in our creative services unit, “what can we do for a Taco Tuesday promo?”… the answer was have sluggers Jake Gelof and Chris Newell smash some tacos. Thirty minutes after the idea came to fruition, tacos were exploding at Disharoon Park. It was a lot of fun, but it took more time to pick up the debris from the shattered tacos than it took to destroy them. Some pieces of taco shell and meat flew as far as first base.
POPS OF COLOR
To mix things up and add some interesting variety to the hundreds or thousands of images taken during an event, I try to look for objects in the foreground to shoot through to add some color to the subject to change the dynamic of the photo. Leah Boggs catching with her coach’s shirt in front of me, Emma Navarro with tennis balls on the umpire chair framing her up, an orange jacket providing some contrast during a rowing race against Texas and basketballs on the rack at practice were a few of my favorite examples of this from the year.
PASSING THE TORCH
Before the game against Duke, coach Bennett and the basketball program took a few minutes before the game to honor Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on his final visit to JPJ before retirement. If you would have told 10-year old me that in 30 years I would be standing at half court photographing Coach K, one of my childhood heroes (yes I was a Duke fan, but not anymore) and an even better coach for the school I work for, I would have said you were crazy.
The women’s swimming and diving team repeated as National Champions by dominating the field in Atlanta. The Cavaliers won 11 events, taking four of the five relays and seven individual events. UVA set five American records and three UVA records on the way to its second title in program history. It was an awe-inspiring display of dominance to witness in person. Covering national championships never gets old. More photos from an amazing week with in Atlanta below.
NEWEST FAMILY MEMBER
In what has become a tradition, the newest member of the national championship trophy family gets taken around Grounds for photos. This one was one of my favorites of the 2022 NCAA Swimming & Diving trophy.
NO SLEEP IN BROOKLYN
Trying to set the scene for events on the road, particularly in recognizable destinations is good way to create content for social media. Playing late games in the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Brooklyn allowed for some down time so I took one of the extra jerseys on the mile walk to Brooklyn Bridge Park for some photos. I trudged through snow, wind, and ice to get there. I was thinking this is going to be a cool photo with the snow, but alas it stopped snowing right before I got in position.
Using a photo prism is a unique way to refract light and create unique images.
GOING OUT IN STYLE
All-American wrestler Jay Aiello finished his career in style with a pin against Virginia Tech in his final match at Mem Gym. It was a special moment that really energized the home crowd.
SKY IS THE LIMIT
The sky can make or break a photo and here are some examples of the best sky photos from the year.
JPJ AS A POT OF GOLD
After a long day of photo shoots in the studio, a quick late afternoon pop up storm gave way to sunshine as I exited JPJ to head home for the day. I stopped to try and shoot a reflection photo in the puddle and saw the rainbow before it faded away.
In-camera multiple exposures are one of my favorite tricks to give a different look during a game or a shoot to help bring a story to life, show action or illustrate a situation. For example, knowing Emma Navarro would be an All-American, the large American flag provided an easy option to shoot a double exposure during the match. These are some of my favorite photos of the year because of the challenge they present and the creative results.
THE MOX ERA BEGINS
Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton was named head women’s basketball coach on March 21, 2022 and immediately hit the ground running in an effort to bring the program back to prominence.
There’s nothing I love more than capturing a winning moment or the emotion and joy of a celebration. It’s hard to pick just one so here’s a compilation of some of the top moments of jubilation from 2022.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN DAY
One of the best to ever wear the orange and blue, Ryan Zimmerman retired from Major League Baseball after 17 seasons with the Washington Nationals. Zim was a two-time all star, Gold Glove winner and a World Series champion. It was awesome to have him back at Disharoon Park to retire No. 11 and honor him for all of his accomplishments on and off the field.
Team photo days are fun, but it’s always nice when the teams decide to do them at the Rotunda because the backgrounds are very clean and say “UVA”. The women’s golf team always opts to do their photo day at the Rotunda and because it’s a smaller team it allows for time to do some more fun group shots like this one.
Sometimes a cool picture is just a cool picture and other times there’s a story behind it. This story isn’t earth shattering but it was a meaningful moment for me. I was at a golf fundraising outing and was hustling around the course on a cart trying to get action shots of our student-athletes and it came to a point where I needed to make a decision to keep tracking them down or let them come to me so I decided to wait and take a little break because it was one three events I needed to cover on the day. I stopped at the hole George Duangmanee was positioned at to hit a drive for each team and the sky had turned from sunny to cloudy and he was hitting some practice chips to stay loose. I told him I was going to try and get some silhouetted shots and he obliged, but in the midst of the waiting we made small talk and I told him about my boys and their new found interest in golf. It was a little thing but, in the fast paced world of college athletics and trying to cover every team it was nice to slow down and get to know one of our student-athletes a little bit and forge a relationship. As luck would have it a couple months later, the golf team was hosting a First-Tee clinic and George was paired with my son Carter and was a very gracious host and teacher.
BACK AT BIRDWOOD
The Virginia men’s golf team hosted the inaugural Lewis Chitengwa Memorial on April 11-12 at Birdwood Golf Course. It was the first home event hosted by the UVA men’s squad since 2011. The Cavaliers beat Tennessee by one stroke to take home the trophy.
THE CHAMPS, PART 2
The UVA Men’s Tennis team topped Kentucky to claim the second NCAA title for Virginia in 2022. It was an incredible run of grit, toughness and determination for the Hoos in Champaign, Illinois to capture the fifth NCAA championship in program history. I absolutely love covering the NCAA tennis championships and I’ve been lucky enough to be there for all five and capture the moments.
I wish I could say I had planned this because I really like this photo, but it was just luck that they were running in stride with each other right in front of the Virginia wordmark.
CATCHING THE LIGHT
The way the sunlight comes through the windows at the AFC makes it challenging to shoot afternoon races because of the stark contrast between dark and super bright. However, the light hits just right in some lanes and can create an epic combination like this shot of Max Edwards during a meet against Florida.
KATE THE GREAT
Being in the presence of greatness is not uncommon at UVA, but Kate Douglass is in rare air. She’s an Olympic medalist, world champion, 8-time NCAA champion, NCAA Swimmer of the Year and has more ACC and All-American awards than I can count. More importantly, she is humble, gracious and kind with her time. I will always appreciate that no matter how many times I say one more time to get the perfect shot during a photo shoot she always willingly obliges. I feel very fortunate to be able to document the career of someone who will leave UVA after graduation as one of its most decorated student-athletes of all-time.
JULIE TAKES THE REINS
This football season, Julie Caruccio took the reins of an old tradition as the new Cavalier on horseback
FALL COLORS ON FULL DISPLAY
One of my favorite times of year in Charlottesville is when Mother Nature puts on a show with the beautiful fall foliage around Grounds.
THAT FIRST WIN FEELING
The excitement and energy in the locker room at Scott Stadium was palpable when head coach Tony Elliott came in to address the team after his first win as a head football coach. An incredible moment to witness in person just seeing and feeling the joy in the room.
Playing off the old Bo Jackson Nike campaign, having a two-sport student-athlete like Jay Woolfolk, it was a no-brainer to recreate the classic image.
One of the biggest stories of the year was Sam Brunelle transferring from Notre Dame to UVA as the first recruit for Coach Mox. From just about 20 minutes north of Charlottesville, the former top recruit in the country coming home gave instant momentum for the women’s program moving forward. Some of Sam’s portrait images are my favorite of the year.
Squash is a challenging sport to shoot, through the glass, but center court allows the unique perspective of getting the ball coming right at you.
Some of my favorite shots from Klöckner are during women’s soccer introductions. The team always has fun and likes to pose for photos before the action begins.
RING LIGHT PORTRAITS
Very simplistic, but I really liked the look of these ring light portraits with the men’s basketball team during media day.
I was really hoping we would get to take a few stills of the team with the video board lowered during the video shoot portion of women’s basketball media day. I knew if we could get the lighting right it would be a cool shot with everything reflected in the paint and it did not disappoint.
MOX ERA OFF TO ROARING START
The Hoos end 2022 13-1 after an impressive start the season and the Coach Mox era. This team has been so much fun to photograph this season.
AN EPIC RETURN HOME
This shot of Nick Jackson celebrating on the sideline after forcing a turnover against Georgia Tech in his hometown of Atlanta was easily one of my favorite shots of the year. The sheer joy on the faces and the lights make it an epic hero shot.
I can always count on hearing my name from the track and a good pose from the volleyball team during a timeout or after a big point. This shot of Josi Williams doing curls with Madison Morey after a big point during the Virginia Tech match was one of my favorite fun shots of many this year.
SWINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
It seems like every time I shot field hockey this year it rained, but the blue turf, flying water and raindrops always made for some engaging images.
A NICE RING TO IT
Getting some detail shots for social media of the swimming ring was one of my favorite shoots of the year because it’s a different task and a chance to be creative with a different subject than normal. I added a little gold glitter and a saber with a gold hilt to mix things up.
A TOUCHING TRIBUTE
After tragedy struck the Charlottesville and UVA community with the news of the murders of football team members Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis and D’Sean Perry, white roses were placed at the 50-yard line at Scott Stadium to honor them. Memorials popped up all over Grounds and as I was out photographing I knew I needed a shot for the cancelation of Saturday’s game and this powerful image would work for that. It was one of the most difficult images I’ve had to make in my career. I’ve cried tears of joy in celebration with our teams, but never had I cried tears of sorrow until standing alone in silence at Scott Stadium taking this photograph. It was the first time I had the chance to actually process the magnitude of the tragedy and the amount of healing that needs to take place as we continue to honor the lives of Devin, D’Sean and Lavel.
In the wake of the tragedy teams from around the country used UVA Strong as a tribute to Devin, D’Sean and Lavel to show support for the UVA community. As our teams returned to action, UVA Strong warmup shirts and patches with 1, 15 and 41 are being worn for the rest of the athletic year to honor and remember their fallen classmates.
It’s been quite a year. 2022 saw the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and I would be remiss If I didn’t say thank you to my family for supporting me and sacrificing a lot of time away to help me tell the story of UVA Athletics. I was fortunate enough to photograph my 13th and 14th NCAA team championships and I took more than half a million images in 2022 and it wouldn’t have been possible without them. Thank you to all the student-athletes and coaches for allowing me to tell their stories through images and to the fans for following along. Here’s to a safe, healthy and prosperous 2023!