Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Football really is over now...

This past weekend was when we published our annual football Super Team. Normally, I get more than a whole week before the publication date to work on the portraits, of the four players and coach who are the superlatives. This year we were running a little behind, and the voting process was taking longer than normal, mainly because everyone was stretched pretty thin. However, just the fact that the whole sports staff was voting and not one or two people making the decisions like a few years ago made it better. Somehow, I got involved in the voting this year too, I guess having shot 30 high school games during the season somehow means I have an idea who is a good player. For the most part, the photos went off without a hitch, we pushed a little later than I'd have liked, but luckily two of the five lived in town and were fairly easy to get a hold of. The overall MVP and coach were both from the same team, and Cisco coach Brent West was on the team for the third time (he'd also been on the team as a player, but that was before my time), so they were east to get as well. The only tough one to get was Casey Pachall from Brownwood (second from bottom photo). The coach had resigned a month ago, and when we finally found a phone number for him, we found out he had already enrolled at TCU, where he will eventually be the quarterback, luckily his mom was really helpful and he was coming home for the weekend. So, although I was really pushing it, that's about the best that could be done.
This is an award that has evolved quite a bit in the time that I've been here. When I first started at the paper the photo was a group shot and it was just an offensive MVP, defensive MVP and coach of the year. However, the year that we decided to give away SEVEN MVP's (based a lot on political reasons) because of a sports editor that wasn't willing to make the hard decision of deciding on one person per position, some changes had to be made. So we went to the current format we have now with an overall MVP, offensive, defensive, newcomer and coach of the year. I think this is the best format to recognize the best players in the area.
Something else that was changed a few years ago that I was directly responsible for was going from the group shot to individual photos. My personal feeling was the group shots always looked like complete shit. The individual photos allowed more of the players' personalities to show as well as give them a photo they can look back on as a real award. That's one reason I like shooting these so much. I try to always do something that these kids will be proud to show off.
I've always enjoyed taking a high school kid and lighting him in the right way to make him look really cool. And, one of the best things to help out with that has been the digital camera. Having the little LCD screen on the back of the camera has helped out a lot in getting kids who don't really care about this to help you out a little. The perfect example, is the photo below of Herschel Sims, our newcomer of the year. He was a good kid and very polite, but it became pretty obvious that after about 5 or 6 shots he was getting a little bored, and I was working to get my side lights balanced just right. Well, after a few shots I showed him the screen on the camera and told him, "this is what it looks like so far, I just need to fix a couple things. The look on his face changed, he got this big approving grin on his face, and was a lot easier to work with after that. This is not uncommon. After the kid sees how cool he looks and sees the work you are doing he's usually willing do do what he can to help out, after all it's his photo that's in there, and if he looks cool he has it to show off to all his friends.

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