As the fall comes to a close, unfortunately so has the football season for SCHS. This Wednesday night I made a quick trip home to photograph the Rockets' end-of-the-year banquet. I'm almost as sad as they are that the season is over! It was a long, emotional journey for the team as they tied state records, broke school records and went further than they had previously been. After the first couple of games of photographing, I was worried they would never let me in to their experience- would never stop "performing" for the camera and just forget I was around. Just the next week, the boys relaxed, started talking about their coaches in front of me and let me photograph their weakest moments, totally unguarded. And for that, I am so very thankful. The coaches led by example, providing access, and acting as if I wasn't around. Thanks so much for paving the way for the authentic images the boys let me make.

Back to the banquet. The chicken was great and Claudia Sanders as accomidating for ever, but it was the huge number of folks in attendance that amazed me. So many moms and dads, friends and family that the entire room was full. I got to show my projects to the boys, cheerleaders and coaches - and hand out some images, but the best part came at the end.

After seeing an image of her son, a mom at the banquet asked me why I took the time to drive home week after week to photograph the Rockets. She confessed to following the blog - and was super glad I was around to document the season - especially for the games she couldn't attend.

I wasn't sure what to say at first, because from the start of my project, it wasn't clear to me in what direction the piece would go, where the focus would be and how I could use it in my classwork. I just had a feeling that it was a good place for me to be each Friday night, and whatever came of it, I was sure I could use it in some form or fashion, if for nothing else, the shooting experience.

After about two seconds of thought, the best response I could give was that this community has always embraced and encouraged me as I grew up, shared my opinions and started a business. Photography is the best way for me to thank and support others, thus my attendance with the black box.

Last, to answer an easier question posed by Coach Shipley: Yes, I will be making a few trips home each season to take in a fall Rocket Friday through my lens, so long as I am allowed. This year made the fifth season I have photographed the team. My junior and senior years I photographed for the yearbook and the first two years of college, I attended one game each season. This year, I clearly raised the bar on attendance and plan to continue the journey next year.

Enjoy these images from the banquet - I hope you can feel how connected they are to one another.