While browsing through my archives trying to find a particular picture, I came across two photos, almost forgotten, that brought me some memories.
I shot the first one at a game between the US women's soccer national team and Australia. It was the first time (and only one so far) that I was to shoot a professional soccer game and, obviously, I was pretty excited about it. To tell the truth, the action on the field wasn't very good and the crowd was really small (maybe not even 1,000). So, all in all, not a very exciting atmosphere. It was only towards the end of the game that I realized that most of the spectators were schoolgirls that probably didn't care much about the defensive gaps or the midfield tactics: they were there mainly to get an autograph from one of their soccer heroes.
To me the look on this girl's face (her name is Mackenzie Johnston), who was hoping to have her ball autographed by Abby Wambach, said it all. And that's why I like it better than any other picture I took at that event. Fortunately, this time the sports page designer felt the same way and played the picture bigger than the action shots.
I shot the second one for a section called "Fashion Ambush." It's about fashion but not about models; just ordinary people at their work places. It has to be a full body picture and shot quickly (no lights or umbrellas or other stuff); so, usually we take these pictures outside. This time, the problem was a HUGE thunderstorm with tons of water and strong wind... OK, let's do it inside. And you know how office light usually is: yes, as one of my teachers used to put it (I believe she still does), it's F-LIGHT (which usually means both: fluorescent light and f* light). To make things worse, this 60-something year old wonderful lady, whose name is Michael Boutwell (yes, yes, that's correct: Michael) had had foot surgery and was wearing one of those medical boots and a big bandage. Anyway, long story short, I went back to the newsroom with the picture below and very, very disappointed:
But a couple of days after the picture was published, I got a message from Mrs. Boutwell. I'll copy here a couple of lines:
"You may not remember me, but I am the lady at Blue Cross that you came to take pictures of for the 'Fashion Ambush' article, that could not keep her mouth shut! I must say you may the subject look better than ever before. The picture was great. I had so much fun with this and appreciate all your time and patience. I am sure in your line of work all over the world you meet
many interesting people and I am just a little drop in the big bucket. Anyway, thanks again and good luck in all your endeavors and in your career (...)
P.S. You mentioned your Mom might have foot surgery. Remember I had the boot on from surgery. Hope she does well."
Isn't this amazing? While we photographers are all concerned about composition, light and so on, and about hitting a home run almost everytime we take a picture, "normal" people can be extraordinary happy with just A picture. And this simple anecdote made me think that if, in our line of work, we can make someone happy, that's far more exciting than taking an award-winning photograph (granted: this is also a consolation for those of us who have never won an award...)