Colleen Maher, right, of the Tigers, shouts for joy as an Aggie opponent is out at first base during the opening game of the New Castle, N. Y. girls’ softball season, while her teammate Beth Gladstone also cheers (© Michael Maher).
When you’re trying to shoot a great sports photo of your kid, it can be harder than photographing a major leaguer. Usually, young kids are more likely to show emotional reactions more often, and on more routine plays, than adults and older players, but there were two challenges in this game. First, it would be difficult to find an emotional reaction because the softball game was a blowout, there was no doubt about the winner, and the players just wanted the game to be over. Second, I wanted to photograph my daughter Colleen, who was a participant, but she constantly hid her face because she was self-conscious whenever my camera pointed her way. Several times I tried, but was unable to get, a good photo of her playing because she wouldn’t relax to show her natural emotions and reactions. Nevertheless, I persisted because she was beginning to tolerate and ignore me. Standing on the first base line, I alternated between photographing her batting and fielding during this game when her team was getting beat very badly. The last thing I expected was a strong emotion or reaction, but on a grounder to second, her teammate threw the runner out on a close play at first to end a long inning, and Colleen unexpectedly cheered the out with body English, emotion, and an intense facial expression. At that moment, I was pointing my camera on another player, but as I heard Colleen yell “yeah!” I turned, quickly pointed my camera at her, without time to fully look through the viewfinder, and took what was a great picture. I submitted it to our local newspaper, and when it was published, all Colleen’s friends and teammates got to see her in print. While I felt proud I had given my daughter a few minutes of fame in her hometown, the big benefit for her was I would stop stalking her with my camera during her games.
1) Watch the fielders during the game, especially with no runners on base.
2) Focus on players most likely to show emotion or ones you want most (e.g., your kid).
3) Be ready to react quickly to something unexpected.