A guiding principle that I try to follow when I'm shooting sports is to remain neutral and focus on the action to capture great shots. Admittedly, this is sometimes difficult when I shoot a team over several days as I develop a sense of their character, style of play, and sportsmanship. Sometimes it's hard not to like or dislike a team or player for various reasons.
This fall I attended 14 matches of a local high school's soccer team. I also shot the team photos and the photos for the senior banners. After roughly 30+ hours on being on the pitch with the team I must say that I became quite attached. This was inevitable because I had shot many of the players since they were in Middle School and I got to know several of the parents (which are awesome).
I was able to shoot 14 matches because the team was very good. They won round 1 of the playoffs, round 2, round 3, round 4 and the regional championship round 5 - they were going to the state championship game!!!
I had committed in my mind to go and shoot the state championship match several weeks before round 5 of the playoffs. As this was a state sanctioned event at a neutral site I was concerned as to whether I could get credentials for the match.
Long story short - I learned on the Thursday before the Saturday Championship that I had to apply for credentials. The state organization had instituted a policy last year that they would not grant credentials for single events but rather one had to apply for a year-long "pass." I went to the site to apply and saw that it was a multistep approval process. Hmmmm, a multistep approval process 2 days before the event - don't sound good Lucy. Nevertheless, I quickly applied, paid some money and because they needed a recent photo (I'm a photographer, I'm always behind the lens) I quickly showered because I was having a very bad hair day and looked like Larry from the Three Stooges. My wife quickly took an iPhone snapshot (blasphemy with all my cameras) and submitted. But the kicker was that the process required a BACKGROUND check. I said no way could they do this in time but I submitted the package anyway. Side Bar: has our world become so crazy that a background check is needed for a photographer to attend high school games?
When I submitted the package on Thursday the status was marked as "PENDING" as in the photo above. Of course I checked throughout Thursday night and all day Friday. As of now, Saturday night, I am still pending.
Friday evening I had to tell parents that I would not be at the match. I felt disappointed like I let the team down. I was sad with an "empty" feeling like I should have been doing something but wasn't. I knew that I should be at the game to capture the memories of MY team, but I would not be.
This feeling brought up a memory when I felt similar many years ago. It was ca 1997 and my daughter, my little girl, was going to graduate from high school as the valedictorian. This was when I was in NASA and I was in Hong Kong preparing for a research cruise in the East China Sea. A few days before I set sail I had a sinking, sad, empty feeling about not being my her graduation. So I figured out how to use a public phone and called my best friend and asked to send my daughter 2 dozen roses which he did. I felt a little better but like the championship game I should have been there. The day she graduated I was somewhere in the East China Sea in a storm so rough that I was the only one in the officers mess, AND it was my birthday. Because of the weather there were no communications. That was, without a doubt, the emptiest day of my life.
Well, the good news is that the local team won the championship match and they are now state champions. I'm so proud of the players and coaches. Although there were some options to watch the game I didn't - because I should have been there and I must admit that I'm not keen at looking at the snapshots online because I should have been there. I know that this probably sounds wack, but it's how I am. Through my dedication to capture the greatest memories for the families on occasion I become involved more than just a photographer.
Soon I must begin the task of working on editing and distributing photos from the season to the parents and players. I must say however, that I think that this will be bittersweet. As I edit every photo I'm sure that I'll think able the game, the game that was not to be.
Thus ends this therapy session.
Until next time, be safe, be good and carpe diem.