Having just posted a couple hundred shots from a weekend ultimate frisbee tournament in Seattle, I find myself going back to the “View Stats” pages. My web site shows a line graph of the daily hits, lists the photos by number of visits, sizes and all sorts of info. Being the data junkie I can be, I love this feature. I love the feedback. I’m thrilled to see over the past four weeks I’ve reached almost 100,000 hits. (96,158 to be exact, but the day’s not over!)

But I’ve got to admit, it’s got me asking myself, “Who am I shooting for?”

That question was yelled to me once at a high school football game. “Hey, Mr. Cameraman! Who are you shooting for?”

“You!” was my immediate response.

It was sincere because I knew the person yelling to me was a parent. I know the parents of high school students I shoot are especially appreciative of the action shots. Realistically, most of these high school athletes are at the pinnacle of their athletic careers. And that’s pretty cool.

And most of the kids I shoot are at Minneapolis public schools. Lots of these kids are in schools with a majority of the students living in poverty. Yes, even here in Minneapolis, we have abject poverty. These kids don’t get many pictures taken of them. And as a result, many of the pictures or stories we tend to hear about them aren’t good ones. Things are often not as bad as things seem, but when kids going to our schools are surrounded by negative stories and pictures, we as a society tend to quickly believe them, and generalize about them. It’s sad because in doing work with the branding of high schools (what I am working during my days these days), the whole issue of adolescents and young adults establishing their own self identities is paramount in these formative years.

Kids need to see and hear good things about them for them gain an emotional readiness to learn. Emotional readiness means these kids are motivated to learn rather than motivated to protect themselves from situations they perceive as threatening their self or their social image. And most of us who have experienced adolescence can attest to the importance of social image in high school.

So to answer my opening question, I take a lot of pictures to help project a positive message to kids who don’t often get it. The shots are placed on the web site free for download for electronic purposes because I want these kids to use them in their social media. To project a positive image of themselves. And to get the shots of these kids on the local news media web sites, like GameFaceMN the Minneapolis Star Tribune high school sports web site where I post many shots.

But I know I take them for myself too. Otherwise, how could I explain the great trip out to Seattle this past week?

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