Sports Photographer by Default

I became a sports photographer by necessity.

But it’s not what you think. Nobody asked me to take pictures of their kids on the field. I just started doing it for fun.

I took up the habit to channel my nervous energy, give my mind something else to do other than worry to death that my son would get hurt or do poorly.

Another reason was to keep from paying attention to the obnoxious parents from the other team.

This Sunday, I stood there growing more irritated by the armchair refs on the sidelines yelling at the ref’s calls, making ref calls, and generally acting like this Premier youth tournament was a military operation.

In order to avoid turning around and yelling at them to STFU so I could enjoy the goddamned game, I went back to my car at halftime, grabbed the camera, covering it with a shopping bag to keep it from getting wet — even under my bubble umbrella — and tuned them out.

These are just some of the photos I shot in the on-again/off-again rain/wind at my son’s Presidents Cup game Sunday.

I do it to keep from punching you in the throat.

Throughout the years of following my son’s progress in his various sports, I grew to be quite good at capturing the players in their element. I don’t just focus on my son; I like to take pictures of everyone from both teams, because a) I’m not like everyone else, b) I’m not an asshole, and c) I’m a journalist with a huge fascination for photography of any kind.

If the shot’s good, the shot’s good, whether my son’s in it or not. In fact, most of the great shots I take are of other people’s children.

As soon as I get home, I share my photos with everyone on the team, and anyone else who may be interested. That’s just the way I am.

A few of the parents and grandparents have expressed to me how grateful and surprised they were to receive photographic memories of their children. They’ve downloaded their favorites to share with their families, which is so very much my pleasure.

The kids have even used a few of my action shots in their social media. They remember their time playing small ball in their #TBs years later, too. That’s really cool, considering teens nowadays aren’t much into posting about themselves.

My photos have also made it into the local newspaper, and even one or two leagues — always a thrill.

You’d be surprised how much I see behind the lens.

I saw so much more than the scores when I focused my camera on the young athletes during a strikeout, on a particularly harrowing grab for the ball right in front of the net, or the euphoria of beating the clock on the final game of the largest 3on3 in the world.

Baseball players especially were a privilege for me to shoot. Those young men stared fear in the face every time they stepped up to bat, or stood on the mound. I saw fear, but I also saw tremendous courage.

I watched many of these boys grow into fine young men on the baseball field, soccer pitch, and basketball courts.

 

In a way, I’ve prepared for this moment since my parents gave me my own Instamatic camera as a child. My dad used to be an amateur shutterbug, favoring candid shots of us getting pissed, crying because we didn’t want to go to bed before Christmas, our faces plastered with chocolate cake, and potty-training. I also like candids over formal portraits; they’re more … real, you know?

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