I have been a photojournalist for 16 years now at the Meadville Tribune. As a journalist we are looking for the elements of a story that really convey it in as precise and short manner as we can. As a photojournalist that means trying to find those visual elements that tell the story and get to the heart and soul of its meaning. This usually isn't hard for me to separate myself from my subjects to do this unbiased. I didn't grow up here so as an outsider my 'heart' isn't connected. For years I made pictures and just was able to say I'm an objective observer, trying to represent the facts as best as I can. But I've been here now for sixteen years and I've watched people grow up or age and gotten to know them. Today I photographed a softball team with members I have been photographing since they were in little league. I went today expecting to photograph some action and leave with the local team winning and moving on. I didn't think for a second that that wasn't going to happen. I thought this team of very good athletes was going to be playing several more games this year. The other team had another thought in mind. At the end of the game my job as journalist began looking for pictures that told the story--and there they were in front of me.....but .... I'm no longer an outsider, I have lived here for almost as many years as I lived in Rhode Island and I have become part of this community. These kids I photographed today I watched grow up. I photographed some of their senior pictures and have had several conversations with them and their parents(and grand-parents!) I feel for them. I really do. As I watch Rachel Dibartolomeo and Arianna Hanley embrace today after the loss, in tears, I knew it was an important photograph to make, but I felt bad. But if I don't make that photograph I don't touch at the true heart of the story. This isn't two athletes realizing that their high school careers are over. This is two friends who have shared a bond few people get to share and for such a long ride realizing this is their last game together(at least in this team/school context!). This means the universe to them. As I made pictures of my friends, yes I called them friends and not subjects, I was thinking about why I do this job and why I continue to point my camera at them even when they are crying and upset, its because it is important for us to always realize that the stuff we do in life, the people we meet, the accomplishments we have and even those moments we need each other for support---those are the real things--that is life--that is why we get up every morning. Its the whole package and we need to see it, experience it and sit back and contemplate its significance.We need to do this, its how we learn and its how we grow and its how we understand each other. I'm sad that my friends lost today. Including the boys baseball team who I have also come to know.(I have photographed several of their senior photographs as well in studio business!) These are good kids, hell they are good people! I'm proud to able to document their lives!
NOTE: I really like Black and white because it allows you to see the content of the story only, not have your eye dance around the frame with all the color. Color is great when color is or adds to the content. This image above has to be color to really see the content of the story, which is the score board. This team and this coach seldom find themselves in this position.
I also had a couple other assignments tonight that kept me from the baseball game, but equally important in understanding who we are as a people and a place and a time. I learned about the endangered cliff swallow because I took a picture of birds nesting at the Beach Club while there for another assignment. I thought it was odd that they let the birds nest there given the mess of bird(oh lets call it...) do-do on the windows of the building looking out on to the lake. Apparently they have been instructed that they cannot do anything to the birds because they are endangered. They were cool to watch fly and they nests are fascinating for sure. I also stopped in and made a picture of the 100th graduating class at Seton Catholic School. It was an emotional, but cool day!