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Friday Night Lights (Not the Book or Movie)

October 22, 2009 - Michael Palmer
During a break between matches at the OVAC volleyball tournament I was talking with Tom Rataiczak, the Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. He shared with me that one of his favorite features in the valley media was the Friday Night Lights page in the Times Leader Saturday Sports section. I have also heard the comment from other people that they rank the last page of the Sports Saturday section as their favorite and it is very gratifying.

I was very pleased to hear this as this page of photos is also my favorite. If you are not familiar with the photo page, it features pictures taken of fans, students, ball boys, water boys, cheerleaders, band members, coaches, workers and all of the other people who make Friday night football king in the valley.

Too often the feature photos are taken for granted. These are often just as hard to shoot as the action shots and just as important to capturing the essence of what football is in the valley.

Sports photos are challenging and if you add trying to find and capture some quality pictures for the back page in between snaps it can sometimes be quite a chore when I have two games at locations over 30 minutes apart to shoot football pictures at. Mostly though, they are fun for me and for the many people we feature in them.

Outside of the young athletes on the field of play there is a subculture of gridiron fanatics that we attempt to shine a light on every week. From concession stand workers and ticket takers to Homecoming queens we try and give the sports fans a glimpse of these support players.

Tom also asked me about a current event that had been featured in the paper and I had to confess, sometimes I do just look at the pictures. That is what I am, a photographer. I really do enjoy capturing a good picture. If you compare it to a fisherman casting into the water, you can understand the satisfaction when you hook and land that prize catch.

It is reassuring that the readers also notice when the photos are good and even when they complain about bad ones, I appreciate that they have the ability to differentiate between the two.

I am writing this to express a heartfelt thank you to Tom and all of the other fans who have taken the time to share their appreciation of our hard work. It is indeed a labor of love when it comes to sports and I wish to add a note of thanks to all of you for coming out and supporting our young athletes.

As always, if you have an idea for a feature photo, sports or otherwise, contact me. Just yell hey Mike at the games or see the information to the right of this blog. Until then, I will look for you in my viewfinder.


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