By Christian VanGinkel
My son played his last football game of the season yesterday, and after a very good season, they ended it with a loss, but a good game nonetheless. The team they lost too had not won a game all season. Our coach chose to play most of the third and fourth string players, but also first and second string, to make sure everyone ended the year saying they had plenty of field time. This resulted in a ton of parents on both sides out in full force with their cameras, snapping photographs of their children not only solo, but also in small groups of two, three, and four kids to catch a memory of who their best friends from the season were. Nobody was left out and kids often ended up in more than one photo. It turned out to be one of those picture-perfect fall days that parent and kids alike will look back on fondly years from now when they are reminiscing about youth football, heck, about their youth at all!
Team photographs and individual shots are taken early in the year by a professional photographer brought in for each team in the league, but I can tell you from past experience that these 'friend photos' taken on the last game day of the year end up meaning much more to the kids than any clean uniform shot that was staged. These show the kids in all their muddy glory, after four quarters of working their hardest. They show them tired, but grinning widely. There is nothing staged about them at all, other than one kid grabbing another to drag them into a shot. This frenzy to snap a few photographs makes for some of the best scrapbook photos ever.
Last year's favorite photograph in our household from football season is now situated in its very own layout, with the words 'Friends Forever' as the title, and is not even one that we purchased from an onsite professional at one of our son's away games. It is one taken on a day matching yesterday's photo opportunity. If anything is to be learned from a day such as this, which presented the perfect occasion for taking a few quick snapshots, is simple. Some of the best photographs you will end up cherishing years from now will not be the ones you paid heftily for to have done professionally. They will be those taken with your own personal camera.
Professional shots have their place, and there are certain circumstances where I would whole-heartedly recommend that you always hire a professional, such as a wedding, but too often, we are caught up in the word professional itself, and overlook the meaning behind most photographs. Memories! If we are not taking photographs to capture the instant memories that last but a few seconds in comparison to the length of life itself, why are we taking any photos at all? The next time you think you already have a photograph matching the occasion at hand, bring along your camera anyway. You might end up with a photograph that will be the gleaming star of your next scrapbook.