I’m writing this right now because I just took photos of a couple for their 25th wedding anniversary (socially distanced). They are a baseball family. Part of my Harrison family. People I love dearly. It made me realize I miss so much and I wanted to write about what I miss the most right now.
The parents are super supportive, always purchasing what I am offering, there to lend an ear whenever I need someone to talk to, and overall people that care. Not just about their kids but the people in their lives. I have only known them a year and it has felt I’ve known them my whole life. Their son was the first player on the team a year ago to introduce himself to me and say hi. It took the rest of the boys at least 3-4 more games until they would talk to me or interact. This is normal, as I also keep my distance, it is part of my job. I don’t want to be seen or heard. It makes for better photography and I’ve gotten very good at it.
That is getting off track. Back to this photoshoot.
It lasted twenty minutes long right outside of their home. I took photos of the whole family, the two kids, and of course the husband and wife. Simple shoot. It took that long for me to truly be reminded of what I truly miss.
The connection. The interaction. The bond I have with these families and kids. I knew I missed it. We all do right? Social interaction is something we want so badly right now. However, being around them today just reminded me that much more how much my job is most of my social life. Now when I say that, I do not say that lightly. I have friends, yes. Friends that are my age and we hang out. But I don’t see them often for a plethora of reasons. I see the athletes and parents more than anyone else in my life. I even talk to some of them off the court/ice/field. I have become friends with them and their kids are friendly to me on social media with me. They are not just athletes I capture, they are people I care about.
I was reminded of this when the baseball player asked me if he could ever talk baseball with me, or if I ever wanted to talk baseball to let him know. I said absolutely, I would love that! And then, the mom chimed in about football and how Brady and Gronk are now on the Buccaneers. Then I added in about Muffett McGraw stepping down as head coach for Notre Dame. It all felt normal, even though I had a mask on and he was 20 feet away. I miss that. More than anything else in the whole world right now. I miss those moments with these amazing kids.
I miss kidding around with them. I miss denying them a photo when they ask, just to take it two seconds later when they seem so sad. I miss talking about the sport they play, the games coming up, or a play that might’ve happened in the last game. I miss showing them how much I care about them and not just with my photos but with our interactions. I may be taking photos all game long and sometimes do not see what happens, but I also see things that people never think I see and I know these kids as well as most. So I get to show them that when I talk to them. I get to mention something they didn’t realize I noticed or cared about. I get to be myself, show my passion and dedication, and get smiles as well as love back from these kids.
I miss that. I miss those little moments. When a kid from another sport sees me at a baseball game and screams EDL. When they see me at a game and sneakily pose for the camera. When a parent missed me at the last game and teases me for not being there all while hugging me. I am apart of a community. I technically do not have coworkers but instead I built my own family with my job. I miss it.
I know I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only one. I know these kids, these families, everyone is missing this. I just wanted to tell you exactly what I miss. Why I love my job. The photos are the icing on top. The thing that matters the most, it’s the little moments. The smiles, the high fives, the emotions. All of that adds up to the best job in the world which I have never taken for granted. This is why you always see me smiling when I’m at a game and why I post on Instagram or twitter with such passion and excitement. It matters to me. Those kids matter to me.
Being around the family today just reminded me that and I thought maybe someone could read this and remember they aren’t alone. We all feel this way in some sort of fashion and it’s okay. Feel it, embrace it. Tell the people around you that you care about them. Reach out. Call. Text. Talk to them.
I call the athletes I work with my kids. I honestly feel like they are younger brothers and sisters to me. They all know this. They are my kids. They are people I love and care for very much. I may be “just” their photographer and they may be “just” student-athletes, but the way we respect each other goes beyond that. I care about them. I miss them. Sure I miss the sports and capturing them. But I miss so much more.
I have asked kids in the past what they feel is different about me than other photographers they have worked with and here are direct quotes from a couple of high school students. One football player said “There’s a person that I connect with and care about that I know cares about me behind the camera! The shots are of course amazing, but I think your passion is evident when you’re shooting and we can tell that you care and want to be there.” And a soccer player said “you’re professional but you also have a relationship with the athletes you photograph. you also understand the sport and you’re always fully engaged. I feel like the fact that you’ve played most of the sports you photograph and the fact that you’ve just always been in an athletic setting really made you passionate and that’s what makes you a good photographer”
I asked them this a while back because I was curious. They seemed to genuinely care about me and they got so excited when I would be at games, even if another photographer was there. I have never felt as important as I do when I’m around these kids. I feel like they need me. They don’t truly need me, but they want me and that is what means so so much to me and makes me go that extra mile for them. Passion. That is the common theme and if they see it, then I am doing something right. I can not wait to do what I’m most passionate about sometime soon. Until them, I’m going to do my best to connect with my kids through social media, especially these seniors who are losing a part of their last year of high school. I am always here and I hope they know that. I love you all! See you soon