Senior Goodbye: Came, saw, captured

%22It%E2%80%99s+quite+safe+to+say+that+the+highlight+of+not+only+my+senior+year%2C+but+also+my+high+school+experience+as+a+whole%2C+was%C2%A0+my+time+as+the+district%27s+photographer.%22

Olivia Lauter

“It’s quite safe to say that the highlight of not only my senior year, but also my high school experience as a whole, was  my time as the district’s photographer.”

Katie Dolberry , Staff Writer

Kindergarten me wanted to be an astronaut. Third grade me wanted to be a chef. Fifth grade me wanted to be a teacher. When it was time for eighth grade me to choose a track to focus her career on in high school, I was fresh out of ideas. 

When freshman me walked into the high school building almost four years ago, I had no idea what  my purpose or impact on the school would be. Freshman year me was well rounded and wanted to try everything. I was in basketball, softball, choir and spanish. 

Sophomore me didn’t know what I wanted to do, or the mark I was meant to leave either. Sophomore year me just wanted to get the rest of her credits out of the way, so I took an intro to journalism class to get her technology credit. I had the time of her life, it was by far her favorite class. 

Junior year me had all of her elective credits, so it was time to start deciding what I wanted to do with my life. I joined The Red Ledger since I had a good journalism one experience. When asked what type of writing I wanted to do, I said sports as that’s all I really knew but I knew quite a bit. However, I played softball with and adored the photography editor, Grace Nguyen, so I decided to give photography a try too. My first article was also my first photo: girl’s fall-ball basketball. My sense of pride was at an all time high when my first story was posted, and I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I even had the opportunity to shoot the volleyball state championship game. I ended up starting a photography Instagram to document the photos I took throughout the year, so I could look back on them later. In July, after my junior year, I launched my senior project; my own photography business, which I marketed for parties, sports and portraits. I didn’t think much would come from it, and I was pretty right in the beginning. What I hadn’t expected to come from it was my die hard love for photography.

Fast forward to the summer before senior year, I was crushed when rumors were flying that there wouldn’t be a ‘Jungle’ during football season because of COVID-19. Attending football games had always been my thing. I would go support the team at every home and away game, and I religiously considered the ‘Jungle’ my home on Friday nights. Not to mention, I recently became good friends with two of the football players and was excited to get to watch them play. I never photographed football before, but saw it as my only chance to guarantee entry to the games so I was all for it. I went to a fall seven vs. seven football game as my first assignment, so  I could get a feel for the sport. That would be the first of fourteen football games I attended and photographed over the course of the season. 

“When I first shot the seven vs. seven game, I was photographing for The Red Ledger, and reporting on my weekly assignment. By the end of football season, I was shooting more for the players, and for my enjoyment, more than just for an assignment for the paper.” (Lovejoy Football Smugmug )

It became tradition for me every Friday night to shoot the game, get home at about 11:30 p.m., cull thousands of photos for a few hours, wake up and go to basketball practice at 7:45 a.m., receive a few photo hungry texts at practice from the boys, go home and edit, and then send the players their photos from the night before at around 4 p.m. Then on Sundays, I would post the top 30 photos to my photography Instagram account and tag the boys. It became a routine for all eight weeks of the district down to the minute. There was no greater sense of joy I would get than when one of the players posted a photo I took for them as it verified that I was good at this passion of mine. 

The third game of the season, one of the football players asked me to get photos of their run onto the field despite it not being my week to shoot. I agreed, shooting from the stands as they walked out onto the field for the Princeton game, but when Dr. Goddard saw he offered to make me a pass, so  I could shoot every game. I could not be more grateful for my prized possession sideline pass that allowed me to shoot every game. One night at FCA, a player was informed I wouldn’t be shooting the game, and he took my phone and got my editor’s number to beg for me to shoot. That meant the world to me that my photos were having an impact that the team wanted me to keep shooting for them, even though I was totally mortified. Thanks, Noah.  

With football’s amazing playoff run, I was able to photograph at Globe Life Park. A place I had visited every year for as long as I can remember in hopes I would one day be able to work on the field. Sports photography made that dream come true. After football season, I just kept photographing. I couldn’t get enough of it. I have always been a sports junkie, and full of school spirit, so shooting on the field or court for all of the district’s  athletic events made my senior year. I went from football to boy’s basketball to baseball to track with a few softball and soccer games, and even a wrestling meet scattered in. I never thought attending a wrestling game would happen to me, but photography gave me that opportunity. Photography also provided me with endless friendships. I met people I never talked to before, but now I consider them good friends, including two of my greatest friends, my sideline turned dugout buddies. I’ve been on the field and the court for all the cheers, and a few tears.  I travelled to  Arlington Garland, Prosper, Austin, Denison, and good ol’ Leopard stadium. I would follow my teams anywhere. 

It’s quite safe to say that the highlight of not only my senior year, but also my high school experience as a whole, was  my time as the district’s photographer. Photography was  my brightside to come out of the pandemic. My senior year was the way it was because of the fear of not being at the football games, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My camera has become my favorite accessory, and I am almost never without it. I can’t wait to pursue more sports photography at The University of Oklahoma in the fall, and hopefully photograph more Lovejoy athletes in Norman. This is your Lovejoy Athletic Photographer signing off, for now. Boomer Sooner and “go Leps.”