Hi all -
As the final seconds of the Sac-Joaquin Sectional Championship basketball game ticked off the clock - and victory slipped away from the Fairfield Falcons, it became obvious to me that I was going to need to make a picture that conveyed the frustration and sadness of this loss. The second in a sectional championship loss in two years for the local powerhouse squad.
The game had been close, in fact Fairfield, the underdog, had led for most of it. But they were unable to hold on, and as the game ended and the players slumped onto the bench, disbelief and dejection washed over the team.
I walked over and crouched in front of them and made the frame above. "Don't take their picture now!" someone screamed from the stands. Believe me I don't want to make this picture. I want to make the picture of the players hugging and cheering after winning the game. Altough I am supposed to remain unbiased, when it becomes playoff time, I route for the home team.
But I have to make this picture and I have to make it as good as possible so that the readers, the fans, the coaches and the players will know just how much this loss means to these players.
When I was at my first newspaper job I took a picture of a crying soccer player being hugged by his coach at the end of a state championship loss. The next day I was flooded with phone calls accusing me of being insensative monster, who cares more about winning contests with sad pictures than about people's feelings.
At the end of the day I was feeling pretty depressed after all the calls. The phone rang again. It was the young man's mother. She asked if she could buy a print of the picture to frame and hang in her son's room. Apparently he had cut the picture out of the paper and hung it next to his bed. He told his mom that he never wanted to feel that way again, and that the picture was going to inspire him to practice harder and lead his team to a championship the next year.
I made the print. The next year, his senior year, he, as the team captain, led his team to a state championship. The paper didn't send me to the final game, but I made a photo of him celebrating in the semi-final win and sent it to his mom. She thanked me, and I congratulated her. It's funny, all those people who called me a monster the year before didn't call me to apologize when the picture of the same kid celebrating ran in the paper.
Sometimes as photojournalists we have to take pictures of people during upseting and vulnerable moments, sometimes we have to take pictures of them at joyous moments, sometimes we have to do both. Although the sad pictures may make us uncomfortable or upset, they still have to be made, becuase the truth has to be told.
Hopefully next year one of the kids in the above photo will be raising a state championship trophy high over their head. If they are - I'll be happy to make a picture and put it in the paper.
Hope all is well -