When a player can't make the big play to win the game, look for a disappointed expression or teammates consoling the player.
With her team trailing 58-56, a Tewksbury High basketball player went to the foul line after time expired for a one and one free throw opportunity in their Eastern Mass. tournament game. When she missed the first shot, her Wakefield opponents celebrated their win and her teammates consoled her (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).
I only arrived for the end of this girls’ high school basketball game, shooting a few photos of some players rebounding. The game came down to one team getting two free throws for an opportunity to tie the game with no time left, so these free throws would be the decisive moment and the main story. I photographed the player getting ready to shoot the first free throw and the scoreboard to illustrate that the free throws were the opportunity to tie the game. Unfortunately the free throw shooter missed the first of a one and one opportunity, and her team lost, so I documented the other team celebrating while her teammates consoled her. It told the story, but I felt uncomfortable making a high school girl look like she was the sole reason her team lost.
1) In some sports, the decisive moment often comes down to one specific play, like a free throw in basketball or a field goal in football.
2) Photograph the action of the decisive play, but usually the best photo is of the players’ reaction, either happy or sad.
3) The most common photo of a decisive moment is the winner celebrating, but also look for the sadness of the losing team’s players.