If you’ve been a Battery fan for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed Ross Almers around Blackbaud Stadium — particularly this year, since he’s begun taking his photo coverage of the team onto the sidelines. Ross is the lean photographer you’ll see prowling the edges of the pitch, a step forward from his previous years of shooting the Battery from behind the goal on the north end of the stadium.
Battery fans show their devotion in different ways, but Ross is an artistic soul who took up drawing members of the team a few years ago. That’s the kind of passion that catches my eye. So I asked him to answer a few questions.
Ross Almers, 43, from Charleston..
When did you become a Battery fan? How long have you been a season ticket holder?
I’ve been a fan of the Battery since the very beginning. Played in local leagues with a few of the early Battery players and followed the team ever since. Have only been lucky enough to be a season ticket holder the last few seasons.
When did you start photographing the Battery on a regular basis?
I started taking photos of the team about three maybe four seasons ago, but just got my media pass this season. I started drawing the players about two years ago.
Describe your process. Do you begin with a photo? What do you do next? What media do you use?
First I decide on the best reference photos to use, pick a couple and import them into Corel or some other photo editor. Then I work with it on the computer until it’s mostly vague line art. Next I’ll do a sketch from the edited line art, and add the outlining, shading and details with colored pencil.
I use a broad range of colored pencils, but mostly Prismacolors and Derwent.
Who were some of the first players that you did artwork for/about?
The first players I did drawings of were Stephen Armstrong, John Wilson and Colin Falvey.
When did this move from being a private hobby to something that you did for other people? How did that happen?
Many people, my mom first and foremost, have supported my work and tried to encourage me to get it out there for people to see and enjoy. I’m not a very confident person to begin with, so it’s been really hard to take that step. I finally got my print and photo merchandise website set up this past November for online sales, so we’ll see how it goes.
What do you look for in a subject? What are you trying to convey that a photograph cannot?
As to picking a subject, I love all of our Battery guys (current and former) but I often feel that I can’t truly od them justice in my drawings. I don’t feel that portraits and facial drawings are my strong suit, so I tend to draw the guys from the back when possible. That also helps to show their names and numbers on the jerseys.
What is your training in visual art? When you’re not making images about the Battery, what do you do?
I am self-taught for the most part.
I’m constantly out among the wildlife, taking photos of nature, historic buildings, and other local attractions and events.
How did your art wind up in the Battery pro shop?
I showed a few examples of my drawings to (front office employees) Suzanne Budzina Miller and Whitney Woods last season, and they got approval for my stuff to be featured in the pro shops.
What’s available for sale now? How are the pieces priced?
In the pro shops I have everything from small die-cut prints in protective sleeves for $5 and framed for $8. Lustre or Metallic Finish Prints 4×6 to 8.5×11 from $5 to $20 unframed or $8 to $30 framed. Board mounted and stretched canvas prints from $70 to $110. Float mounted metal prints for $60. Many other options, sizes and merchandise are available through the website.
Of the art that you have available for sale now, what pieces are your favorites? Why?
My John Wilson drawing is probably my favorite, followed by my “Rainbow Champ Feet,” which is a close-up of Mike Azira’s feet with a rainbow effect during the 2012 season. I love the John Wilson drawing because I feel that I really captured his intensity in the piece, in addition to being one of my better attempts at drawing a player head-on. The Mike Azira piece, well, I love the rainbow technique in this pic, and what can I say? Mike is just amazing. He’s gonna be among my favorites in everything.
TOP IMAGE: Battery great Osvaldo Alonso of the Seattle Sounders greets Ross Almers at the 2014 media day before the Carolina Challenge Cup.