Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food for thought

"Curreem Sheppard, 4, sneaks a bite of homemade macaroni and cheese while his sister Curreda is not watching in their Baltimore home Thursday night. Their mother, Freda Sheppard, owns her own catering business, and makes her own homemade macaroni and cheese often."

Temptation is sometimes too difficult to control. For myself, I thought: Why is it when you cannot eat that you absolutely think of all your favorite foods and click by numerous food programs on television?

On Monday I had my wisdom teeth ganked along with some other dental work and after plopping onto the couch upon my arrival at home I was hungry. No, make that starved.

With my mouth in pain and the anesthesia making my face feel like an inflated Macy's Day Thanksgiving Day parade float, I craved for food. Something. Anything.

But as I drooled on my keyboard salivating at the scrumptious foods (and because I had no idea I was from all of the numbing) during an Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations marathon, I knew I'd have to settle for nothing.

From fish and chips, which I've never had, yet looked great, straight from the streets of Edinburgh, to mustard-based South Carolina ribs and fresh sushi from Tokyo, my stomach twisted and turned like a wash machine. I needed food. I was convinced I would not survive.

As time passed, so did the pain, bleeding and the numbing. I was starting to feel better and better. At that point I really needed to try and get something in me before I keeled over from lack of nutrients.

But as any college kid, my selection was limited. While I ended up snacking on some microwavable pancakes which I basically swallowed by the bite size, I really wanted some soft, warm macaroni and cheese. And what better than the batch I had photographed before the Eddie Adams Workshop.

About a month ago or so, I had a small food review assignment which was a little different than the normal shoot. Instead of going to a restaurant, I went to a home in Baltimore where a woman whipped up some of her famous mac and cheese in front of me.

Singing Baltimore club music, I was greeted and hugged by her younger children. I couldn't help but to laugh at the endearing qualities of her kids. However, that was about the only cute thing to happen.

The house was was hot due to all the cooking and it was humid, too. So much moisture that I had trouble keeping my lens from steaming up every couple minutes.

As Freda and her kids mashed their plastic covered hands into the tubs of thick, cheesy goodness I found it hard not to put my own under protected hand into the four-cheese dish and eat some.

As they prepared a couple different tubs of macaroni and cheese, I could not help but to laugh when one of her youngest sons kept sneaking bites to eat. It was if no one in the world was watching, not even the schmuck across the table with the ginormous camera.

His lackluster, carefree attitude made me think of my current situation.

Like putting his hands into the dish before it's served, it's difficult to sometimes control your own temptations and not think about the repercussions.

But you must control your actions, don't eat when you cannot and don't stick you dirty hands in the mac and cheese because you'll only ruin the entire process in one fell swoop and later regret the decision.

I'll continue not to eat all the foods I desire because I know that will only make my waiting time that much longer if I get dry sockets.

On a food related thought, Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pack up the pumpkins

"Three-year-old Liam McCarthy pilots his toy tractor at Weber's Cider Mill Farm, Wednesday morning. His mother, Eileen (not pictured) said the family comes to Weber's each year and love it."

Thanksgiving is here and so is the snow in Maryland. That means I must say goodbye to my favorite time of the year - Fall - and take note that it's time to pack up the pumpkins and replace them with Christmas decorations.

I am not really sure why I love the Fall since it's so prone to ticks in Maryland, and anyone who has read this blog or knows me personally knows my pure hatred toward them.

Personal battles aside, there really is no better time weather-wise than September and October. It seems as if it goes weeks on end without a drop of rain and the temperature continually hovers around a cool 70-degrees everyday.

Back in high school when I was into cars I loved being able to clean my Honda on Sunday evening and know that I didn't have to touch it again for more than a week because of the impeccable dry days.

Now that I am frequently outside for assignments, I know that Fall will keep me comfortable and cool no matter what time of day it is.

But those perfect days are gone until next year and I find myself opening up what I call my "weather box" in my trunk more often than I'd care to.

My weather box is a plastic bin that holds my inclement, hot and cold weather needs: Two pairs of gloves, a baseball cap, a ski hat, rain coat and rain pants, rain gear for my cameras, Under Armour shirt and pants, hand-warmers, a towel, a bathing suit, and some other goodies.

You never know what the weather will be like, so I like to be prepared for just about anything when working. It beats driving all the way back home to get something simple or to the store to buy another.

Anyways, this above assignment was one back from October on an absolutely gorgeous day. As per usual, parents had their children out in full effect as they picked pumpkins and waded through fields having fun.

Anytime you put nice weather, children and the word fun it's almost impossible hard not to make a nice frame.

After making some round and buying some jalapeno beef jerky for breakfast I saw at the counter, I then pretty much staked out this wooden photo cutout board from the minute it caught my eye. I just sat there patiently chomping on my beef jerky until someone walked into the scene.

Well, it's late and I am cold as wind whips around the trees outside. Last night we got our first small amount of snow here in Baltimore and I bundled up like the younger brother in The Christmas Story.

I am rambling, which happens when I am tired, but this is my last remembrance of the season I love for 2008. I'll be going into hibernation until Spring. Well, not really, although I cannot say I don't wish I lived in California right now.

With that in mind: Do Californians even own long pants?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Home-schooled Saints

"The Maryland Christian Saints home-schooled high school football team warms up before practice at Beechmont Christian Camp. The program has gone from a 17-player squad that was not very strong to league champions last season."

My draft bin is overflowing with old stories from this past summer (not to mention a lot of recent stories, too) that I've been meaning to get to.

At one point I mentioned trying to get them posted before some become outdated and stale. Well, since football season is still going strong, yet ending for prep teams, and I got a good lead on a possible story relating to football, here is an oldie:

The world is huge and every time I leave the country I feel so small. I realize that there is so much out there and that we really are just tiny dots that make up this enormous universe.

With that being said, it's down right fascinating when I am introduced to a story that has been right underneath my nose and so close to home.

With the football season starting (back in August), I got my daily assignments and realized that I was ending my shift literally five minutes from home. I needed to cover the local football team. However, they weren't your typical public school, prep team. These were home-schooled boys. Championship material home-school boys.

What caught my attention with these players was that they were a group of home-schooled kids that had formed a team from nothing.

When the Maryland Christian Saints first started a program four-years ago, they were horrible, having been blown out in all but one of their 11 games. One game they even got stomped, 70-0. And from what I was told by their coach, they had hardly any equipment and barely enough players.

But now, four years later, the home-schooled squad, which most are not in public school for religious reasons, now have nice uniforms, a full roster and even cheerleaders. Not to mention a league championship from last season. This was a great story and I was amped to be covering it.

Yet, to be blunt, in the past I have never had good experiences with home-schooled peers. Don't color me ugly, but most of the time they aren't very proficient at socializing. It almost reminds me of teenagers nowadays whom can't communicate any other way than on the Internet. They just aren't used to being around people everyday.

So as one could expect, I was a bit hesitant going to this assignment optimistic.

When I got there, I had trouble finding the field, but among the thick, knee high grass and rolling hills laid the pitch. About a quarter mile away. In the rain. And up hill in both directions. OK, maybe not that last part. Either way, still wasn't going they way I had wished.

As the practice started, I noticed that the students weren't seeking attention. They weren't posing and they truly acted like I wasn't there, which in turn made things easier for me.

Typically kids and teenagers, especially high school athletes, want to pose and stare into my lens. Hawking my each and every move which makes a photojournalists job a living nightmare. They want to be famous and portrayed as glamorous.

But when I could get right into their huddle without 50 pairs of eyes gawking into my wide-angle lens, I felt I was getting their true personalities.

I was there probably about an hour, making features of them in huddles, making tackles and trash-talking to one another, not to mention, the David Tyree catch. Aside from the rain and running back and forth to my car to get a work out get my rain gear, I had a good shoot.

After transmitting in my car, soaking wet, I realized that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover. No, that doesn't sound right for this circumstance. What I mean is, I shouldn't judge a book by my last critique of it. I need to remember to be open and take life for as it is and also to search a bit harder for those stories that inhabit my local town.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Miles from a championship

"Runners pass a crowd of spectators during the final leg of the Boys Class 4A Maryland State Cross Country Championship race at Hereford High School in Parkton, Md., Saturday morning."

Nothing excites me like shooting somebody or something for the first time ever. Last weekend shooting cross country gave me that rush.

Although my day was packed, I was up for a nice weekend of championship sporting events. My day consisted of two games - the Maryland State Cross Country Championships in the morning and the Maryland State 4A Field Hockey Championship at night.

As mentioned, I had not a clue of what to expect for my first cross country event. I had not even watched a race, let alone shot one in my years of shooting and going to high school and colleges that had teams.

From what I recall from high school, cross country was a long, slow distance running race. Simple, right?

The only reason I know anything (read: nothing) about the sport is because I had a buddy who quit the soccer my junior year team to run cross country.

I never quite understood the sport. Being an athlete myself, I hate running. I generally feeling exhausted after a long match or practice. But my buddy loved it. He found joy in leaving us in the dust as we had to run laps before and after practices.

He was a machine. I never once saw him gasp for air or run (again) for the water jug. He started with a smile and ended with a grin. Think Forest Gump. He was a runner at heart and set all sorts of records.

Aside from my teammate, I never knew how long the races really were. My assignment said I needed to shoot one race at 11:00 a.m., so I planned on getting their early to scope out the scene and didn't expect to get out of there until 2 p.m. or so.

After arriving about an hour early, parking in a corn field and finding the races I began looking for the reporter.

To my surprise, he informed me that each race was a little over three-miles long and lasted maybe 20 minutes each. All along I had thought the races would last an hour. And although three-miles is a trek on your feet, I was thinking something like a 15-mile course.

Anyways, after bumping into new friend and Patuxent Publishing intern, Todd Spoth, I realized that although it was a pedestrian event (I mean it's just kids running), that it was a playground for my pupils.

While confusing with dozens of different high schools racing at the same time all while on a confusing, long course, I found myself being entertained running around myself trying to make images at various parts of the track, all while trying to shoot the runners I needed to capture.

I shot for a little over an hour and three different races - the two races before the one I needed to cover and the one I was expected to produce the most for.

It was a lot of fun and I feel like a learned a bunch, too. But the best part of the event was watching the athletes come across the finish line and have near-death experiences as they foamed from the mouth, vomited and passed out. I know sometimes I feel drained after a soccer game, but almost fainting and needing assistance doesn't seem like much fun.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Running around in the rain

"Despite heavy rain, Rebekah Moore, 20, of Chestertown, Md., searches for handbags and jewelry at the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival in Annapolis, Saturday afternoon. In September 1987, the Kunta Kinte Celebration was born in Annapolis, Maryland - America's first national capital."

Candyland would be one assignment that I would think any photojournalist would never not be able to find a feature photo - assuming the weather was fair.

I covered a Kunte Kinte festival about a month ago and I knew it wouldn't be too difficult to make some images for a photo spread. That was until I got to Annapolis and realized the weather was awful.

Having covered many, many events in the past, rain is usually one thing that either cancels an outdoor assignment or makes it a pure challenge.

Sometimes it will be a light drizzle and things will still go on, but more or less if it's a steady rain, things will come to a halt.

The thing with this festival was that is was pouring. Raining cats and dogs. A continuous downpour.

So as any photojournalist would do, I grabbed my rain gear (pants and coat) and a plastic bag out of my trunk to still try and make do of this outdoor event.

My job was to spend roughly an hour there making no less than four images, no more than six, for photo only spread, before moving onto my next assignment.

But the problem was that no one was there. Literally there were maybe 20 people sitting in their stands with plastic tarps over their merchandise and roughly five or six patrons.

There was no music, no dancers and nothing that inspired me or made my eyes dance. It was a typical rainy, poorly attended festival.

After circling this tiny event time and time again, I called my editor and let him know the deal. I wasn't trying to get off the hook rather than clear my mind of the anger I had inside of me. I was completly bored. I was searching hard to make something in my short time there.

So after taking a deep breath I busted out enough detail shots to help compliment anything else I would end up making.

Finally, the rain stopped briefly and vendors removed their plastic rain covers and a more patrons began making their rounds. I had to work fast. Not only was I working against the clock, I was working against the possibly of reoccurring rain.

Overall, I was surprisingly pleased with my take on the event despite my own struggles. This is the image than ran dominant in the spread. I guess this is where the small assignments help with the difficult, rainy circumstances.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Traveling with the white cane

"Within a couple hundred feet of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, Michael Hutchison smacks into the grass and passes out, briefly losing conciseness. This was following his lesson of crossing Patapsco Avenue for the first time ever, after he tried to find his way back and became lost before eventually finding his way."

Without a doubt I love shooting feature stories. Sure there is nothing like being on the sideline of a great action sports game or being one-on-one with a subject for a portrait. But it will always amaze me when I get to see the best or worst day of someone's life when they allow me into their world so I can help tell their story.

One of my favorite stories I worked on this summer was with Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Calvert. I found myself working with him a lot this summer and had a great time with him.

What was nice about Scott was we both knew how one another other worked, so we knew when one of needed to do our job and when not to get in the others way.

For this story, we followed a blind Micheal Hutchison, who at the time was learning to use a white cane from Blind Industries and Services of Maryland. Of all his challenges, Crossing Patapsco Avenue solo was only one in the process.

My plate was full before meeting Hutchison. I had an assignment before, I needed to shoot video in addition to my stills. Not to mention, I had never shot a story on someone who is blind before Hutchison.

Before getting to the assignment I needed to pick up a video camera from the office. I thought this would be a simple task since prior to my years of primarily shooting photos, I predominantly had a video camera in my hand.

However, the other photographers and reporters had the better, nice video cameras signed out, so I got stuck with the tiny, no external mic, horrible, small camera. But I decided to make do with it anyways.

After meeting up with Scott, we proceeded to follow Marco Carranza of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland and Hutchison out to a super busy intersection nearby.

Carranza, a teacher, trains fellow blind people to walk with white canes, including Hutchison, whom was attempting to cross busy Patapsco Avenue solo.

As we made our way to the intersection, cars zoomed by, dogs barked and I got nervous. This wasn't Hucthison's first time navigating on the streets, but it was the first time I'd ever seen anyone who is blind try and find their way around outdoors on the road.

At times I simply closed my eyes and tried to use my own senses to see how difficult it was for him. It's absolutely fascinating the things those with limited or no vision at all can accomplish.

For someone like myself who uses their vision every day with photography, it's amazing how we take our ability to see for granted.

So as the afternoon progressed, we waited. And waited. Then waited some more. This was six lane intersection that I would have trouble crossing myself. No joke.

Hucthison stood on the corner trying to determine when would be the safe time to cross. He puffed on little cigars and stood on the edge of the curb nervously with his white cane.

Then out out of the blue, he darted for the other side of the road. However, he started heading right into on coming traffic before he corrected himself and then finding himself stranded on the middle island of the road.

After successfully crossing the street and than back again, he was patted on his back and told to go on his way. So Scott and I followed him back finishing up our story on our way.

But that's when the real story unfolded.

During our time out there he kept talking about how difficult it was to make the right judgment and how he had relayed on his eye sight all his life, so trying to distinguish what's coming from either direction was his biggest test.

It was a hard exam, because Hutchison got completely lost. What was normally a five-minute walk turned into a 30-minute escapade.

Walking in the wrong direction, into cars and ignoring help from strangers we weren't sure if he'd ever make it back.

Then he finally found the cross walk back to Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, but after making it across the street he passed out and blacked out. I documented the moment and then looked over at Scott. Our ethics came into play.

Do we remember we are human and help him? Or do we stand objective as we journalist should? Scott called him name. No response. Scott tried shaking his arm. No response. Then luckily an employee of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland who was leaving saw us in trouble and came to our aid. He opened up his eyes.

Hucthison was OK, but very shaken up. Apparently he has had troubles with high blood pressure and that hasn't help after recently losing his vision. It was a long day for him.

I left the assignment with a profound respect for the blind and all my senses in general. I'll close this post out with a quote from Hucthison:

"It [being blind] has it's struggles, but anything in life is like that, and the more I adjust to it, it gets better and better."

Monday, November 10, 2008

One headlight

"Racers pilot their four-wheelers toward the finish line during an off-road vehicle event at the location of the Mason-Dixon Fair in Delta, Pa."

The simple task of keeping your eyes and ears open can sometimes help you find stories.

Two weeks ago, I was driving around and I heard a loud announcer from a distance not far from where I was, so I kept my window down until we stumbled across one major spot light up on the hill near the Mason-Dixon line.

As we pulled up, I noticed a sign for dirt bike races and a entry fee of $10. Not really feeling like paying, I decided to pull my classic trick of telling the parking attendant that I was only turning around. Yet, the trick, is I never come back out.

I've done this at many venues throughout the years, mostly the Fort Knox college venues who over stress on parking (*cough* Towson *cough*), and have yet to be confronted or towed.

Anyways, all this mental preparation to try and stoop the parking police, all to get in for fee, and no one was even at the gate. Sweet.

As I pulled up, I quickly realized why I got in for nothing. The dirt lot was about half empty (or half full) and I overheard the PA say this would be the final series for the night.

So I hoped out of my car with my camera and only a 35mm f/2 and dashed over to see exactly what was going on.

Four-wheeler drag racing. Woah. Never seen anything like it. I've seen the traditional drag racing (illegally and legally), dirt bikes and ATVs gunning against one another on a track, but never a combination of the two.

What was even more fascinating was that there was only one huge light source at the beginning of the track and the finish line was two huge two-by-four pieces of wood driven into the ground.

Basically, these racers couldn't really see where they were driving. And if that wasn't enough, to cross the finish line they had to avoid smacking into a large piece of wood or crashing into their opponent. Only in Pennsylvania.

Anyways, could have been a fun time, but I only got off about 100 frames before everyone started chugging their last Budweisers and jumping into their pick-up trucks to leave for the night. Oh, well. Could have made a nice little feature story had I known about it earlier.

But in the end, it was something new and I got to make some frames. You never know what you might hear or see.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Stuck on you

"Four-year-old friends, Dustin Piety (left) of Silverspring, and Ayomide Idowu of Gaithersburg, share a laugh in space suits as they learn about weightlessness and gravity on a velcro wall during Goddard's LaunchFest at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland on Saturday. The event also featured tours of the center, model rocket launches, moonbounces, spacey story-time, and space robots."

I always ask older photojournalists if photographing children years ago was any different from nowadays and I usually get the same answer: Yes.

For years, I've never felt completely safe shooting images of children. Whether it's for a feature, a story or an typical event. There is just something inside my head that makes me feel like I am being viewed as a pedophile.

Contrary to what I think, more than half of the time my actions are well received by parents once they realize who I am and what I taking their child's picture for.

Sure there have been some occasions where parents either don't believe I am shooting for a newspaper (read: once) or they don't feel their child needs to be placed in the newspaper (read: many times) or they simple won't release the child's full name (read: more than I'd like).

Maybe it's my approach when I end up in one of the above scenarios. I've always have been a shoot first, ask questions later type of photographer. No matter what the circumstance, I am going to watch the scene unfold in front of me, capture it, then chase down whomever I need to get the proper identification to accompany my images.

I often think that maybe if I asked who the child belonged to, then shot it, it would make it easier for me, but that's just not what type of shooter I am. Not to mention it would ruin the moment at hand.

Sometimes I'll simply shoot a child (mostly during a small event) and then find out who their parents are. Then I can shoot them with ease knowing that if I stumbled across them again at the event I already have their name and won't feel awkward.

This sort of happen at the NASA Goddard Space Day event. I simply needed to make a couple "cute kid" features for the article. There wasn't much there that screamed cute children and outer space aside from a large moonbounce shaped like the space shuttle.

So I worked it and finally made a frame I liked. However, I wasn't thrilled with it and decided to get the kid's name anyways. His father was receptive and really glad someone was capturing the event positively with children.

I walked away and for a lack of better words, stalked some more children. That sounds so horribly and awfully wrong.

At this point, I was frustrated and bored. So I followed one of the best tips I ever got: "If you're feeling bored, shoot why you're feeling that way."

This got my creative juices flowing again and I started shooting with a longer lens to see the event differently. I got some stuff I really liked and started heading toward my car.

Then the moment I was waiting for unfolded in front of my eyes. From a distance I could see the same children laughing, smiling and, well, sticking to a wall.

I made some frames and when I chimped I realized it was the same child from before. Granted he wasn't the only one in my frame, it made me not to hesitant to approach them for the other child's name.

While this ended up being my favorite image from the small event, it never saw day light as a juxtaposition image I had with a child, a telescope and a giant solar system poster took the ink.

I guess until I over come my personal endeavor of feeling, but not really being, a pedophile with a camera, it will only get worst the older I get. Until I get over it, I'll continue to do what I do because it seems to work just fine.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Welcome to the White House

"Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., pauses as he addresses more than 10,000 cheering supporters during a campaign rally at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Md., Monday, Feb. 11, 2008."

It's finally over. At 11:03 p.m., our right and privilege to vote has come to and end and we now have a new man in office - President Barack Obama.

While I like my other Obama images from his appearance in Baltimore back in February much better, I figured I put tighter image up of our new president of the United States.

I had a blast covering his rally at the 1st Mariner Arena earlier this year and while the elections are now over, it's going to feel odd not having the race to the White House in the news.

For the past two years, and more prominently since January, it has seemed to fill the news each and everyday. Whether it was positive, negative or back and forth propaganda. It was always there.

My cell phone was always buzzing and ringing with calls from supporters, my e-mail was always littered with sophisticated letters and links trying to sway me one way or another and friend's couldn't stop talking about their personal views and the entrainment of it all.

With Maryland a new hot bed for voting for some reason, elections drew heavy turnouts, and long lines of voters were being reported all over Tuesday morning. I even read one article that stated voters waited up to four hours. Wow.

Luckily for me, I made my vote in Maryland in record time - two minutes in and out.

I probably could have made my voting quicker, yet I kept looking and couldn't find my favorite president of all time. That's right, David Palmer, the fictional President of the United States from "24" was not on ballot.

I am sure (the evil) Charles Logan had something to do with that. Or the fact that he really is from a television program. Ha.

Anyways, it's been a long road to the White House and we finally have a new president. To a certain extent I am happy it's over with, but the other of me will miss it all.

From the Sarah Palin jokes, to the back-and-forth red-blue banter and everything else in between.

God bless the United States. This has been a historic day and a historic two years in the making as we now have the first black president of the United States.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Intern Diary: The Baltimore Sun

(Note: At the end of each summer, it has been a tradition at the Sports Shooter Newsletter to have several students share their experiences working at an internship. I was asked to contribute to Sports Shooter this year following my internship at The Baltimore Sun. Here is an excerpt:)

Well, my internship at The Baltimore Sun ended about two weeks ago and I had one of the best summers (and fall) of my life.

Although I could name a laundry list of things I learned from everyone there, it’s difficult to sum all of it in short form here in words.

Everyone I got to work with taught me a distinct lesson at some point and helped better me throughout the summer. I learned endless things from those at The Baltimore Sun, whether they were my own editors, an editor of a different section, a reporter, or photographer.

They each shared something with me, be it: a subtle simple lesson, a photo, a story (personal or written), an editing, shooting or reporting tip, or just plain good old fashion life advice. I feel privileged to have been given such great wisdom and work alongside such great people.

In addition, I learned from my own failures this summer and tried to better my shooting and vision by trying to produce work that was compelling and creative. I took risks, tried new things and tried to break out of my comfort zone. And I should not forget to mention, while having a lot of fun, too.

In short, I was fortunate to get great assignments, truthful feedback and have an inspiring, welcoming, talented staff to work with. I can only hope to find that in another internship or staff position after graduation.

Although I won't elaborate completely on my blog, please take the time to read my full Intern Diary on Sports Shooter. You can read it here

Once again, thanks to all my editors, the photographers and everyone else at The Baltimore Sun for giving me this opportunity, and for making this one of the best summers of my life.

(Photo by: Dave Hoffmann)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Eating it up: varsity style

"Baltimore Polytechnic Institute senior defender Nick Halkias looks to help guide his team to another City Championship this soccer season and hopes to play at a Division I college next year following graduation."

The other day a couple of my buddies and I were talking about playing sports in high school, and as we chomped away at some fast food, I realized that we all could have been better athletes if we had only eaten properly.

What made me think of this was because my buddy was craving a soft pretzel with hot nacho cheese. What does this have to do with anything I am talking about? Soft pretzels and velvety nacho cheese was my prime lunch special in high school.

Although I ate some sort of sandwich, I never skipped a day of lunch with out a tub of hot cheese and a super large pretzel; or two.

What else amazed us is not only were we eating horribly on game day, but between lunch, which was served anywhere from 10:40 a.m. (no that's not a typo) to 12:10 p.m., we weren't refueling anytime between then and kick-off.

So here we are, probably not eating a healthy breakfast, if one at all, then consuming the worst possible foods for lunch, than using that stored energy to try and make the best performance of our lives on the soccer (or lacrosse) fields at night.

Just think how much better off we would have been if we had eaten a nutritious breakfast, a healthy lunch without soda and greasy foods and than refueled with proper carbohydrates and water before the match?

Yeah. Makes me wonder, too. Although, my buddy Ben used to chug 32 oz. sodas during halftime and that never seemed to slow him down. Odd.

Anyways, as per usual, I love shooting these varsity features. Not only do the players generally "eat it up" and love every minute of these shoots, I have a blast trying to make the look like super stars.

I was never the super star per say, I always felt I was more or less the unsung hero. Yet getting into the paper was always something special, so I always want to make these players feel that way, too.

For this shot, I had another concept in mind as I sat in the parking lot waiting for him to get dressed into his uniform.

The only problem was that my idea would have portrayed him as an offensive threat, which he was not. He was a hard-nosed defender. The kind that would get under my skin and take me out of my game, or so he confirmed.

So I kept it simple, like I should have done with my lunch in high school.