Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why are Pictures Repeated so Often?

It’s another common complaint heard throughout the baseball card collecting blogs. Why do the card companies keep using the same pictures over and over from one year to the next, or from brand to brand? Why can’t they just find another picture? There have to be more of them out there. Lots more.

I can almost understand reusing pictures of the really old players. There can’t be more than a handful of pictures of Tris Speaker or Cy Young. It’s not like every schmuck in the stands had a camera snapping away. So, I almost give the card companies credit for doing the best they can with a limited selection. Cropping the picture differently or using a “painted” version is understandable under the circumstances. I assume it’s fairly similar for the players of the fifties. Again, there are a limited number of pictures of those guys as well. The modern players? That’s less forgivable. How do they not have 1000 pictures of every current player in the major leagues? Are they simply lazy?

I wondered that until I noticed my David Ortiz Wheaties box. It has a nice picture of Ortiz winning game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. How can I be sure? Because I have a print of that exact picture hanging on my wall. Huh? The same picture? How did that happen? It was a playoff game. There were cameras on the field. I saw them. It was extra innings. I’m guessing one or two of those cameras were pointed at Ortiz. Where are all the other pictures that were taken? Why wasn’t the Wheaties box a picture taken a step or two after the 8x10? Is General Mills lazy too?

Or is it the photographers taking the pictures? No, I don’t think they’re lazy. But, are they only allowing one or two pictures to leave their cameras? Do they scan through picture after picture to select the one perfect picture from their day? Are they protecting their professional integrity by limiting the number of pictures out there? They can’t let that picture circulate. Ortiz’s hand is at a funny angle. They can’t release that picture, the guy in the background is making a weird face. So, everyone has to pick from this one really good shot I got. That’s it.

So, maybe Topps isn’t lazy. Maybe their monopoly isn’t making them just mail it in. (I never really bought that explanation anyway.) Maybe even in this digital age, there are still only a limited number of images to choose from. Maybe that’s the real answer.

They’re just slaves to the photographers.

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