“Gentlemen, the hopes and dreams of an entire town are riding on your shoulders. You may never matter again in your life as much as you do right now.” – Coach Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights.
Socorro High School, New Mexico. Clock strikes 7pm, the wind dies down, the air is dry and warm from another hot day in the desert. The Warriors football team and the crowd are pumped for Friday Night Lights. The local heroes emerge in appropriate epic gladiator fashion from the locker room under a clear sky. The national anthem silences the crowd in respect before the kick-off ignites the noise and cheering. It is game time.
While the hopes and dreams of an entire town may or may not entirely be resting on the shoulders of the Socorro Warriors, the feeling of support and community is strongly present. Twice I had the pleasure of standing on the sidelines of Socorro High School stadium and photograph the warriors. Have been an NFL fan for decades but never attended a live game, these were my first live Football experiences. Friday Night Lights with the Socorro Warriors. It was a perfect first two lives game. Still wanting to see college and NFL games but this was perfect. Being allowed to photograph from the sidelines, seeing and hearing the action up close, players run, block, tackle, smash into each other, feeling the community spirit and support, the coaches calling plays and coaching their heart out, cheer leaders working the crowd, kids looking up to their heroes, smell of popcorn, zebra stribed judges, runs, passes, catches, touchdowns and cries of joy and frustration. First and 10, hut hut.
I use my Fuji X-Pro1 and Leica M6 to document the games, not obvious cameras for sports and my range is limited to 50mm – bit this works very much in my favor. I must work and create compositions that work in 50mm, no heavy zooming and speedy DSLR servo drive focus and shooting, have to really fight for the one shot. Must compose, wait, anticipate. One shot. I admit to being quite inspired by David Burnett and his Olympics images. Wandering the sidelines I find elements to use in compositions, anticipate the plays, hope they evolve in the direction of my composition and if not, I wait for the next play. I use high contrasty black and white as it lends a dramatic timeless quality to the players and emphasizes the lights against the black sky, a black sky I very much like. Circling the field I must anticipate plays, fill the frame with action on and off the field. Or sometimes just fill the frame with blackness. It’s a struggle, a challenge and it is an exceptional fun shoot.
Thanks to the great town of Socorro and the Warriors and staff. I very much look forward to returning. Wearing my Warriors T-shirt – Go Warriors!
EDIT: I must have proof read this post 100 times and still I managed to miss that I used the same image twice and was missing an image. Image 2 from the top, the dusk view of the entire stadium now inserted properly.
man, excellent work! I like the feeling transmitted by your pictures.
sorry for my awful english.
Hey Gianni, thanks! Your English is alright, no problemo 🙂
fantastic. I really like this set of pictures. inspires me a lot
Good to hear, thanks!
I might be a teensy bit biased, having felt that electric atmosphere of a live game, but I thought this was a brilliant essay. Felt like I was right in the midst of that action. Continually drawn to #7 where that fella is mid stride arabesque, reaching for the ball, with all the others trailing him, after that glory. Love it.
Tak! He caught that pass, in image 7 !
Next time, college and NFL, bit jealous of your Seattle experience 😉
I was privelaged to play high school football in Canada. We had a few Friday Night games in the USA. The experience was incredible. I love the game and playing where football is a religion was awesome. There is no better high than playing football.
Unlike soccer, we must stop playing as young men and hang on to the old memories forever.
A great story Chris, thanks for sharing. Yes it’s interesting how “American” for lack of better word football is this incredible high that must be cherished since it lasts for such a short time (unless you are Brett Favre…or Danish placekicker Morten Andersen!)
Cool mate…you are the master of these shots! 🙂
Ta mate 🙂 Master is a bit much though, still very much an apprentice at documentary work, in awe of the old masters.
Nice Shots! Really get a feel for the game and the night.
love the look with the grain and the contrast. This is definitely my preferred way to finish my b&W.
Thanks! Some of the images are film images, Leica M6 using Tri-X so they have the grain and contrast built in 🙂 For the others, must be simulated, Nik Silver FX plugin is my preferred converter.
Ha ha film!!! who’d a thought lol lol. The b&w setting in my OMD is almost exactly like that. Love it.
Cool. Film rocks though, love using the Leica M6.
Great story, text and photos coming together into something more than the sum.
You’re truly a pro!
Salutes, your Awesomeness 🙂
Gracias amigo 😀
Nice shots. I did the same b&w for some high school soccer games. The camera does a great job under lights. 🙂
Great stuff, Bo. I lived nearby in Carrizozo, NM for six months last year doing a bit of soul searching myself. A small, sleepy town of 1,000 or so-odd – and very-odd – inhabitants! One of the most magical places that I have ever lived or visited. The next time you’re in that area, do yourself a favor and plan on staying there for a week – you might decide to plant some roots after meeting the brilliant and eclectic mix of man, myth, and native, desert denizens.
I shared a lot of those roads with my girl by my side and Tim Christensen “whispering at the top his lungs” in my ear! 🙂 More great stuff from Denmark.
Hi Tad, I have driven through Carrizozo — actually I think I had lunch there. I do remember thinking this town looks funky and interesting. Must visit properly next time 🙂
PS. Sorry to disagree on Tim Christensen – not a fan. There is tonnes of great Danish music though, especially electronic stuff.