One-Take Photographer and Pole Vaulter

Aren’t they cute? Jake and Ben T. at a Houston Astros game 12 years ago.

When Jake was in kindergarten, a new boy moved into our community and was placed in his class second semester. Tall and shy with piercing blue eyes, Ben T. (to distinguish him from Ben N., who just happens to be Jake’s roommate at college in the fall) became one of our favorites. He and Jake were close buddies until they started drifting apart after elementary school.

Sidebar: The above photo, snapped at a Beanie Baby giveaway at a Houston Astros game, was published in “Mary Beth’s Beanie World” magazine. Yep, I used to write about those cute, little stuffed animals. Hey, it helped pay for them!

Captain Ben talks to a lowly freshman (aka, C.J.) at Tuesday’s district track meet.

Ben always was a talented athlete, so it’s no surprise that this skinned-knee young pup has grown up to be a big dog on the high school track and field circuit. Specifically, in pole vault, where he’s one of the best in our area.

I’ve been wanting to get photos of Ben pole vaulting for the last couple years, but I never made it to any of our high school’s varsity track meets. Totally lame on my part. But this week when all our track teams (freshmen boys and junior varsity and varsity girls and boys) are competing together in the district meet, I finally got my chance to snap some shots.

I was psyched! I saw Ben at the meet and wished him good luck. Then he said the words that every sports photographer dreads hearing: “I’m probably only going to jump once.”

Say what?!? Only one chance to capture Ben in action? Unfortunately for me, Ben has been nursing an injury that he didn’t want to exacerbate. He passed on all the heights until there were only two other pole vaulters left in the competition at 12 feet 6 inches, knowing that the top three advance to regionals.

Ben contemplates his vault.

As Ben stood on the runway about to start his vault, I was hopeful for both of us—that Ben would clear the height, and that I would keep him in focus going over the bar. I had been practicing shooting the other pole vaulters and was having trouble not blurring them.

My patented technique of prefocusing on the bar? It didn’t work well with the more-experienced vaulters, because they’re able to bend the pole, and they’re further from the bar on their approach. So their faces aren’t in the same focal plane as the bar.

All I could do was hope for the best! Here’s how we did:

Ben approaches the bar.

Looks like he’s over!

Cleared it!

Success with one take . . . for both of us! Way to go, Ben! Good luck at regionals.

3 responses to “One-Take Photographer and Pole Vaulter

  1. Susan, you are such a determined photographer and so you were able to capture Ben’s pole vaulting just perfectly. Beautiful shots, the picture of the two when they were so young is without words to describe, the years just go by to fast. Love your work. Mom

  2. awesome sms! i loved the pic of the two boys – it’s amazing to see how they’ve changed! i’ve been enjoying your pictures this spring!

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