NEW YORK CITY - Manhattan is a world away from John Day, but local resident Tom Oliver recently had an opportunity to take a bite out of the "Big Apple" during his work as a photographic intern for the National Basketball Association.
Oliver, a 2000 graduate of Grant Union High School, is a 22-year-old photography major in his senior year at Oregon State University, and spent most of this summer in New York City working a variety of jobs ranging from filing and cataloging images to doing photo shoots at NBA and WNBA championship games.
"I got interested in photography during my last two years in high school," Oliver said. "I met a man named Matthew Summerville from San Francisco who was living in town at the time, and he was the one who taught me how to do it."
After graduation, Oliver enrolled at OSU and continued his photographic studies.
"Late last year, or maybe in January, I submitted my resume to the NBA through an Internet Web site," Oliver said. "I really didn't expect anything to happen, but I got a telephone call in the Spring from Karol Rhodes from the NBA who asked me if I wanted to interview for an intern's position. It was really a big surprise. I did my interview over the telephone and about two weeks later, I got a call and they told me if I wanted the position I could have it."
Oliver said while he was in New York he lived in Manhattan and took the bus every day across the river to Secaucus, New Jersey, where the NBA has its offices.
"Going over in the morning it was a pretty short ride, but coming back at night it took a long time because of the traffic," he said.
Oliver said during one week of his internship he worked at the Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York where he did a number of different jobs for the NBA.
"I basically did everything in the photo department," he said. "I sat in on business meetings, filed photographs in the library where they have over 1 million images on file, made edits for magazines which needed specific photographs to go with stories, and scanned and documented images into the computer."
However, Oliver's internship was not all meetings and office detail.
"I assisted different photographers at two NBA finals games and I took photos at several WNBA games," he said. "In addition, I helped out at the NBA draft and assisted in photographing the NBA rookies for trading card companies and at press conferences. I photographed the USA Olympic basketball team practice and their game against Puerto Rico, and I also did the WNBA all-star game."
Oliver said he took a lot of player portraits on days prior to these games, and the photos were used by various newspapers and magazines.
During his time in New York, Oliver said people told him he bore a striking resemblance to NBA player Steve Nash.
"My hair is a little long like his is, and people started calling me 'Nash'," he said.
A career in sports photography is in Oliver's future, and he said he plans on working for the Portland Trailblazers this season.
"I would love to do anything connected with photography, and I'm going to be a substitute photographer for the Trailblazers this year. They told me they already have a couple of photographers working for them so they couldn't hire me full-time, but I will be substituting when one of the other guys isn't available," he said.
Oliver said New York City is an incredible place.
"You meet people from all walks of life there and contrary to what you hear about them, everyone I met was friendly. All you need to do is talk to them," he said.