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PPD Readers Pandemic Projects: Roy Ritchie's "Crush the Ball"

By David Schonauer   Wednesday July 29, 2020


It’s been a hard few months.

“Since the lockdown during the pandemic, a lot of people have lost their jobs, and also have been isolated. It is easy to feel depressed and hopeless these days,” says Roy Ritchie, a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Detroit and Los Angeles. With time on his hands, Ritchie created a video project spec piece as a Nike television ad. The video, which features a man pushing himself to the limit on a basketball court, speaks to the positive attitude needed to get through our coronavirus age, says Ritchie. “I think the message can provide a little humor as well as help people push through in tough times,” he adds. Below, he describes the project.


I’ve mainly been a still photographer since 2001. I have crossed though various areas of photography, from weddings (that’s how I started) to product, food, portraits and cars. These days I’m mainly concentrating on people/lifestyle and automotive work, and I have been doing smaller projects with motion. This project started as an idea to create a sample piece that would be a showcase for my editing and the capabilities of my motion assets.

The concept just came to me as I was thinking one day about creative ideas. I had done some photos of guys playing basketball on a public court in downtown Detroit, and I’d noticed how intense they were. I thought it would be interesting to show someone with all that intensity but no talent.

When putting together the shoot I thought it could be a witty way to make it seem like a commercial of some sort, and I thought about Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. It always seemed to be filled with confidence.

Since the lockdown during the pandemic, a lot of people have lost their jobs, and also have been isolated. It is easy to feel depressed and hopeless these days. There is something ironic about how the guy in the video piece is playing by himself in full gear, and playing like he’s being watched by a full arena of people. Somehow it seemed to parallel the current state of things for many people.

Then of course the ending being about his positive attitude. Maybe people can look at this guy who has no reason to feel so confident about his basketball skills but is anyway. Nothing can stop him. I think that’s the attitude people need right now — to help get things going and not lose motivation.

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