I was raised in a small, rural town in upstate New York – so small in fact, that the varsity football team was comprised of students from three different towns! When I was in 6th grade, I followed the football team with a passion. This was partly due to the fact that my teacher was an assistant coach with the team. But I also thought the seniors were the coolest guys around. I attended every home game and even clipped and saved newspaper articles following each game. Even more exciting, since my Dad was a teacher in the high school, he was able to get several of the team member’s autographs for me.
I had received a Pentax K-1000 for my 10th birthday and now, 2 years later as a 6th grader, I enjoyed taking sports photographs at the football games. Still being in the elementary school (K-6th grades), it was thrilling for me to see some of my photos published in the high school yearbook that year! One of my favorite images that I captured showed the three captains walking to the center of the field, almost in perfect lock-step, before kick-off on a beautiful, autumn Saturday afternoon. Several weeks after I had taken the picture, one of the captains was involved in a serious car accident which damaged his spinal cord. The entire community rallied around him and his recovery. The football team’s mascot was the “Bears” and in an effort to raise money, commemorative teddy bears were sold with a football patch with the #72 sewn to it. Some time later, I was touched to learn that my photograph had been hung in his hospital room.
It was around this time that I realized that photography can be much more than simply documenting the action of a sporting event. It captures and preserves a brief instant in time and, if done properly, tells a story. Photographs can produce a whole gamut of emotions, evoke memories of the past as well as inspire and motivate.