“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” — Frederick Douglass
When I was a freshman in high school, a teacher who was also the yearbook advisor convinced me to take photographs for the yearbook. “Go take photos of the freshmen football team,” she said, then shoved a 35mm camera into my hands and sent me on my way.
I knew nothing about that camera. I had extra film in the bag, but didn’t know how to put new film in without risking exposing the shot film to light which would ruin it. So, I went out and knew I had 24 shots to get before I was done. I stood on the sidelines and took the photos I thought were interesting. I had no idea if they were over exposed or under exposed or even in focus. I snapped the shots, then gave her back the camera.
She kept giving me a camera, so she was either desperate or they were fine. I never knew.
The following year, I got the yearbook and noticed all of the photos for freshmen football and cheerleading were mine. WOW.
Life didn’t let me continue taking the photos. It wasn’t until G started playing rugby in 2008 that I took sports photos again. I didn’t have the right lens but made do with what I had. People loved them, but I could never tell if it was because they were good or because they loved having photos showing them playing the game.
When the gay rugby team, aka the all-inclusive rugby team, started playing again, I would always take photos. I had the right lens now – and it was a great way to see the game up close. I started hearing lots of feedback from the players on the team but also the other teams. Last season, an online inclusive rugby magazine messaged me about using my photos. I gave them permissions and found they did a whole write up about me, the team, and the photos. I was also entered into the rugby photo contest. I did not win, but I was surprised none-the-less.
I know, if I am with the right people, that I can capture photos of people well. It is why I refuse to pay for others to take photos of my kids or my family. I’ll take them myself, thank you. I have taken amazing photos of my love as well. Hell, I still have them because, well, they captured what I saw perfectly.
Today, I did an unplanned shoot of the b-side team for a visiting rugby team. G and others had offered to play with them as they were short players. The field was muddy and the play was crazy. I caught some great photos.
Sports, in general, is a great representation of struggle – and overcoming struggle. Struggling through the situation helps you figure out how to get through it – without struggle but with success. Struggle helps us learn – helps us grow – helps us conquer.
I loved this photos I captured today. I love the mud. I love the taped fingers – the taped wrists. I love there are more hands than people in the photo. I love the tension – the grimace, the determination.
I recently wrote that I’m a landscape photographer. But today, I remembered that is only part of who I am – I am also a sport’s photographer – a capturer of the human struggle on the field. And specifically today, I was a wallower in the mud of competition. (Yeah, these guys fucking destroyed that field – I doubt the city will be happy with the results of it – but that’s their fault, they shouldn’t have granted the permit.)