photo prose: gary rabenko

Art of good sportsmanship, and warning of dangers


I’m not a sports fan but love the emotional dynamics involved. I don’t enjoy watching team sports but appreciate team spirit and enjoy reading about talent and determination.

Last July 4th, I discovered Jason Pierre-Paul’s enthusiasm for fireworks and the accident he had in which his fingers were blown off, and likely his multi-million dollar career blown out. The mechanics of fireworks are interesting — the physics, chemistry, timing and, of course, the lighting produced, but it’s the human interest aspect that fascinates me. Every July 4th I tell friends how I hope they will have all their digits still attached on July 5th, that anyone who plays with fireworks, after hearing about terrible accidents each year, is acting foolishly. Then again, I never understood why people smoke. I am an anti-smoker and appreciate clean air and quiet.

As a photographer, timing, mechanics, movements and gear, all are related. Gear can be dangerous. I have built and repaired electronic flashes which involve sudden discharge of high voltages. I have used high intensity lighting close to products and backgrounds that could ignite.

In modifying, repairing and building things I use all manner of power tools that can easily cause serious injury. The number one reason people get hurt is that they are overconfident. Next is unawareness of how machine and materials interact.

Sports figures are role models. Kids and young adults who are into sports might learn from a player’s talk about his stupidity and foolishness in doing what he did; he could make a huge difference in someone’s life. He could get and keep kids’ attention so someone, somewhere, will not play with fireworks and not lose a finger, hand, eye or entire arm, because of the lesson taught by JPP.

In photography as in sports, getting the shot is rarely a matter of luck. Most often it involves being in the right place at the right time due to correct anticipation of some action. One who keeps asking himself questions will eventually act on an answer that will lead him to being in the right place at the right time.

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