Shooting to Win

UWEC photographer shares 25 years of sports images

Tyler Henderson

SQUEEZE PLAY. UW-Eau Claire sports photographer Rick Mickelson says he looks for images that show the “intensity, joy, (and) disappointment” of athletic competition through facial expressions.
UW-Eau Claire sports photographer Rick Mickelson says he looks for images that show the “intensity, joy, (and) disappointment” of athletic competition through facial expressions.

UW-Eau Claire’s sports photographer, Rick Mickelson, has been capturing important moments in Blugold athletics history for more than 20 years. That photography is finally on display at the Davies Center on campus in Mickelson’s new exhibit, “Game Face.”

SQUEEZE PLAY.
SQUEEZE PLAY.

Mickelson has been the Learning and Technology Services program manager at UWEC since 1988, when he began a job that includes photography duties for the college. That first day also happened to be a pretty big day for Blugold sports.
“My very first day of work at Eau Claire was Homecoming 1988, so I was shooting a homecoming football game on my first day,” he said. “That’s not something you forget.”

With an athlete father and artist mother, it’s not too surprising that Mickelson followed the career path that he did. After going to school at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he played football, he hit the working world with a degree in business. After working in that field for a time while also doing some freelance photography, he made his way to Eau Claire and fell in love with being a campus photographer.

“Working at a college as a photographer is a great opportunity because you get to stick your nose into everything,” he said. “Every day is a different challenge.”
Although Mickelson does photography work for the entire campus, his favorite thing to photograph is sports. Since 1988, he has been shooting at least two home games per sports team every year. Choosing from among that massive volume of photos for his new exhibit was not an easy task, but he managed to choose 38 images to put on display at Davies.

“What I tried to do with the exhibit was to show the breadth of sporting events that take place on this campus,” he said. “I tried to pick pictures that show the emotions that athletes go through. … There’s intensity, joy, disappointment. … I tried to show facial expression in all of the photographs.”

The “Game Face” exhibit, sponsored by University Centers, will be on display on the third floor of the Davies Center at UW-Eau Claire through Oct. 31.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.