Hey Coach

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This blog post is part of a 12 month portrait project. Please visit Phyllis Meredith’s blog once you are done here.  She is out of West Hartford, CT.  I know you’ll love her work. There is always something wonderful happening with her in the wild.

This summer my boys were on the swim team.  Zed with the littles and Ez swimming millions of laps every morning.  The coaches were great.  I’d watch them work with my kids each day then cheer them on all.day.long under the hot sun at every meet.  I wanted to give back and hate just handing over a wad of cash… That lacks imagination… and wads of cash I have not.

I had gotten the idea to photograph capped and goggled swimmers against a plain background on my last mini studio session.  We discussed this idea (they are on our team also) and mom liked the idea, but it’s not super practical.  Their photo session for the year?  Gonna be in normal cloths.

But that idea stuck, floated around and I kept wanting to talk w the coach about it.  I put it off and put it off until it was the last week of the season.  I decided that a thank you portrait might be the excuse I needed to get this idea out of my head.  So I asked the head coach if it’d be cool to photograph the coaches.  He said sure but it’d have to be that night at the potluck.  Oh… well… I had envisioned myself hanging out in the corner with my backdrop during practice.  Not at an event with all the parents milling about.  I almost bagged the whole thing.  But I decided to push myself and just DO IT!

I began stuffing my gear (and kids) in the car.  I almost brought a chair but forgot that nonessential while wrangling boys, towels, goggles, GF dinner AND dessert into the car.  We arrived early so the boys could swim and I left the backdrop in the car.  It’s so conspicuous and leaving it behind is really my MO.  I would rather find a good spot then lug a bunch of equipment around. Against the fence could work… naw.  Then I found it.  Just inside the boys’ bathroom.  The wall is painted a bright green, but looked to be a good middle gray. Zone 4 or 5.  Whatever photo speak you wanna talk.  And the lighting would be natural.  Perfect.

I then saw my first assistant coach, a kid that lives nearby and is Zed’s idol.  I figured I should get a feel for the light and jump in and just DO IT.  I didn’t really have a good reason for taking the photos. Which is what made this so difficult for me.  I figured I’d give them to the coaches as a thank you and wanted to keep that as a surprise or thought that might be a weird reason to give for taking a photo. And in reality I just wanted to photograph and I’m not sure how many people would get that.  I just want to create.  I have no person to sell to, no gallery to hang these, no stock agency asking for photos (do they pay money anymore anyway?).  I just wanna do it.  One coach asked what the photos were for (she wasn’t super thrilled to have her’s taken, go fig).  One of the parents had suggested earlier that I send them in for the end of year slide show.  Ok.  Yes, the slide show- “These are for the slide show” I said.

www.stacieannsmith.com #swim #coaches

www.stacieannsmith.com #swim #coaches

www.stacieannsmith.com #swim #coaches

www.stacieannsmith.com #swim #coaches

www.stacieannsmith.com #swim #coaches

Since I can’t carry around this bathroom I’ve got plans to make a spot like this here at my place. Just in case you were wondering, this is all I want to photograph right now. The fact that I almost didn’t take these because it wasn’t convenient or easy or even comfortable blows me away. Once I got started it was just like any other shoot. Just me, doin’ my thing.

4 thoughts on “Hey Coach”

  1. i like these a lot and i feel as if i’m watching your figuring it out as i go through them. the first ones of the adults while nice portraits, aren’t as relaxed as those with the kids – by the end here, i get what you’re doing and i too like the expressive visceral nature of them. i can smell the pool and taste the splash in the air. and as i spent the better part of my youth on swim teams in a pool, i well know that look in of satisfied exhaustion.

  2. I just love these Stacy! I love the stark background, and all the different personalities showing through, and the wet and messy hair ones… Love the story too! Great images!

  3. Yes, I think adults in general are more difficult. Kids are easy… although these adults are, for the most part, pretty young.

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