It was a Kodak moment and it was happening right in front of me; ready, willing and able to be captured for all of time by simple press of a button.
A girl named Shayne Rivard, a senior at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut, had just scored the game-winning goal in overtime of a state girls lacrosse semifinal, saving the season for her team and her fellow seniors.
Right after scoring the goal, Rivard turned to her bench, stuck both of her arms out in celebration, as if to say, “Come get me” to her team. They obliged, burying her on the turf in a pile of winners who lived to play another day.
Before they got there, however, behind her all of her teammates who were on the field with her seemed to collectively leap into the air in celebration. In contrast, each of her opponents either collapsed to the ground in disbelief or hung their heads in heartbreak.
Like I said, a Kodak moment that summed the game with one click of a button, one-one thousandth of a second frozen forever by the click of a shutter.
Photography — especially sports photography — is a funny thing.
Yes, it takes a certain skill to take a good sports photo, and that is something I’ve learned to master over the 34 years I’ve been taking photos. It takes knowing the games, and anticipating what comes next.
But there is also a little bit of luck to it.
Sometimes you need to be in the right place at the right time and on Tuesday afternoon I was.
I was standing right next to the Joel Barlow bench when Rivard scored her game-winning goal.
When she turned around to face her team, striking her victorious pose, it was as if she was posing for me.
The greatest moment of her athletic life ready to be captured with a photo that would tell 1,000 words.
I saw it. I saw everything and knew what could have been.
Yet I didn’t take a single picture.
For the last 20 years I’ve been a journalist, I’ve gone to an event with a camera slung over my shoulder and a reporter’s notebook shoved into my back pocket.
Not only can I do it all, but it do it all damn well, thank you very much.
Fifty-seven days ago, though, that all changed.
That’s the day my newspaper was sold to a larger conglomerate, a more corporate-minded approach to how to do local news.
It may not be the right way, but it’s their way, so get in line and march, folks.
So I found myself covering a game on Tuesday afternoon without my camera.
I asked The Powers That Be if they wanted me to shoot the game I was covering (For the record, I wasn’t even covering the game for my newspaper, but one of the four others owned by this company) because I was groomed to believe that if you’re going to cover local sports right, you’re going to do it 100 percent correct.
I was told, no; no pictures needed.
So I got in line and marched to the game, bearing witness to a great finish without the ability to capture it with a click of the button.
Thus, Shayne Rivard’s Kodak moment disappeared forever.
The second I was recognized the moment had slipped by, I was angry. And I’ve vowed that my camera is coming with me to every single game I’m covering from here until they burn me and my Nikon in the crematory where I’ll be cooked to a crisp.
The paper may not want to use it — and that’s there prerogative (space considerations and other game come into play, I know that) — but I will not let such an image slip by me again.
Bad luck is one thing. Being in the wrong place at the right time is another thing.
But when I punch that clock and go to work, my camera is coming with me no matter what.
I owe that to next Shayne Rivard, whose Kodak moment will not slip away forever into just mental imagery.