Capturing The Whole Story
So we all know how fun it can be to capture the action of a youth sporting event. We spend time on the field, game after game and end up with a nice selection of photos. However, at the end of the season when you start to compile all your photos and start to share them with other parents or use them in the season ending banquet, keep in mind all of the moments that made this season special. What if you were responsible for capturing the entire essence of the team? Heck, you will be at most of these events anyway. You might as well document them. When we think back over a memorable season we do remember those close games or the time you came from behind however there are other events that create magic and those are the moments I want you to think about photographing as the year goes along. These are the shots that make it personal and not so much a gallery of action photos. What moments do I mean? Let me throw out a few ideas that may spark your thinking.
What about pre-season? There are the practices and drills where you can see more personality shine through. You might see the coach laughing with the kids. Maybe at the team huddle at the end of practice, the team all gets cake because it was someone’s birthday and somehow a food fight breaks out. How about the time when the team gets to go to a pro game together? These are all moments where you can get a peek behind the “athlete” mask. You have the opportunity to capture their true natures with all the mix of characters.
Once the season starts you can mix in photos of the sideline with the action photos. There is a whole world happening in the sidelines or benches. Capture some of that detail. You will have that heart breaker of a game when the team loses by one point in overtime and the team collapses on the field in frustration. You might see teammates helping each other off the turf and walking slowly off of the field. How about the parents who are there to cheer up their players? Of course you will have the moments of fantastic celebration. The team goes wild and pile on top of the star player. Huge grins as they walk towards the family car retelling the whole story to their brothers and sisters. There are the moments at the local hamburger joint where the whole team smashes into one booth. Another day the team ends up at someone’s pool where they can have fun and be kids. Get that too.
After the season you will normally do some sort of wrap up. If your team was lucky enough to win their league, there will be an awards ceremony. Take photos of the kids with trophies and ribbons and wads of bubble gum big enough to challenge a giant.
These are the images that really capture the experience. When you take these shots, try to keep in mind the essence of a photojournalist. Maybe you don’t always ask them to look at the camera and pose. I am not a big fan of “say cheese”. Shoot on the sly. Blend in. Keep a low profile. You are not the story, the team is the story and you are just there to capture the moments. Now think about how special these images are when you show them during the final team party or banquet. Put those images along with some of the music the kids love and you truly have something special. Not all parents can be at all the games and events and for those that missed some of these special moments, you are providing a fantastic gift to every family. You might also print out some of these images and plaster them on a poster board or go a step further and create an online photo montage. There are lots of online companies out there that give you the template and you just drop in the photos. Many will actually allow you to add text as well.
Got the idea? Now get out there and channel your inner photojournalist and this season capture the whole story. Have a blast!