Wick Communications

When your humanity shows

In Photography on 19 Sep 2013 at 2:54 pm


Jerry Burnes, of the Williston Herald Jerry Burneses, took the breathtaking shot you see above at the tail end of a nine-man high school football game that had long since turned into a blowout. There was 41 seconds left in the game when Jerry trained his lens over the shoulders of some tired teenagers. The result is spectacular.

“I was pretty much done shooting action at this point,” he wrote in an email to me after I asked him about the shot. “Beach, the winning team, had the ball and was taking knees to wind down the clock.”

A lesser reporter is packing up at that point. He’s putting his camera in his bag and plotting a way to get a quick comment from the coach before beating traffic to get home.

That clearly isn’t the way Jerry thinks and it should be a reminder to the rest of us.

“I noticed how the sunset was shaping up earlier in the game … and made a mental note of it,” he wrote. “About two or three years ago, I took a similar shot in Illinois but it had no people. When I prepared for this photo I remembered a portfolio review I had with William DeShazer, then of the Chicago Tribune and now with Naples Daily News, and he loved the sunset but hated the photo for that reason.”

So, with the clock ticking down and the fans on the hoof, Jerry found a spot behind those guys in blue. I told Jerry I couldn’t recall a better sports feature in Wick newspaper pages. The quality of the light, the colors in the sky, the framing of the players and their body language – it all combines in an unforgettable way that brings home life in that community and underscores our similar experiences as Americans. …

I say all that not only to blow smoke at Jerry, but also to make a point. The best of what we do appears effortless. It’s easy to think that Jerry just got lucky. I mean, come on, look at that sky! But it’s so much more than that. It’s the accumulated training that Jerry filed away. It’s his photographic eye, the way he blocked the referee with the players in the foreground. It’s his power of observation and his noting the sky would bloom like that. It’s his work ethic that drove him to stay to the bitter end.

Finally, photographers only take photos like this when they empathize with the people in their line of sight. There’s a lot of instinct at work, sure, and more than a grain of plain old talent. But there was something else at work. Jerry took a photo of a few high school football players and they reflected his own humanity.



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