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One photo … that about sums it up

Taylor Swift’s song “Mine” has a line that I’ve loved since the first time I heard it.

“You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.”

If you’ve heard the song, I think you’ll agree that one line sums up the whole song.

That’s hard to do, and still be able to craft a full song around that. I would love to be able to do that at some point. Not necessarily even with a song, but just with a piece of writing, come up with a line that encapsulates the whole point of the piece.

I guess the closest I came was some years ago, working with the Free Press as the sports reporter. It was the annual Prince George Bowl in high school football between PGSS and Duchess Park.

I got to the field a little early because I had been told there was going to be a bit of a memorial before the game, recognizing the mother of a couple of the Duchess players, who had passed away a few days earlier.

The teams headed out to the field before the game and lined up facing the stands. They didn’t line up as PGSS and Duchess Park, they lined up together, players from both teams standing beside each other.

I always found it a difficult thing as a photographer, taking pictures at a time like that. It’s a moment of silence, with everybody having their own private thoughts, and I’m out there with my camera, taking pictures of them.

Thanks goodness for the lights at the field there and the almost-silent operation of the new cameras. There was no click with every picture being taken as the shutter slammed shut, and I was able to maintain a respectful distance from the players.

I got my pictures of the ceremony, then stuck around for the first quarter of the game to get some action photos.

Over the weekend, I went in to the office, downloaded the pictures and went through them. I found one I thought was a good one from the ceremony and saved it into the folder we used.

On Monday, I called the Duchess Park coach to get some thoughts about the game and the feeling of the team about playing after the ceremony. He gave me some good comments, and as we wrapping up I remembered something I needed to get from him.

“I got some photos from the ceremony, and the one I’m figuring on using has one of your players right in the middle. I’d like to get his name for the cutline.”

I gave him the player’s number, and there was a slight pause.

It was the player whose mother they were honoring.

Bill Phillips, our editor, ran the photo full-page size, and I got a few phone calls in the next couple of days complimenting me on it.

A few months went by and I was looking at Facebook one day. There was a note from Teresa Mallam, one of our other reporters, congratulating me. I checked and found what I assumed was a list of the nominees for the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards, with my name on for Sports Feature Photo.

I sent a message to a friend of mine at another paper, who I knew was a judge with the awards. She told me that wasn’t a list of nominees, it was a list of winners.

If my name was first, which it was, it meant I had finished first in the judging for the national awards for that photo.

I was shocked, to say the least.

I had felt the picture was a good one, because it told the story of what was happening. In no way did I think it was an award-winner.

I was happy to be wrong.

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