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Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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March 6, 2008 12:40 AM

Basketball Coaches Away From the Court, Part 2

Posted by Rod Mar

As I mentioned in the previous post, I was assigned to photograph a couple of local high school basketball coaches ahead of the state tournament here in Washington State. As I moonlight as a basketball official, this can make such assignments somewhat interesting.

Rick Comer, the coach of Renton High School is one of the best people you'll ever met. Great coach, treats everyone with respect, loves his family. Most importantly he doesn't scream at the officials. Well, I'm sure he does, but I sure don't remember many times.

Coach Comer didn't actually know I was a photographer for the Times when I knocked on his door to photograph he and his son, Ben. He only knew me from basketball. He quickly made the connection and invited me in and while we were making small talk made sure to thank me for working hard in his game a couple of weeks ago. I congratulated him on recently winning his 300th career game.

The reason for the story is that Comer had taken off most of last season to care for his 10-year old son, Ben, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He's had successful surgery and follow-up care. It's a heartwarming story, and I wouldn't dare to try and tell it to you in my mangled words, so you can read Craig Smith's terrific story here.

Sometimes portraits are hard to shoot, especially in someone's home or office. You don't have much time, and it's hard to make a connection with the subject while you're simultaneously looking for a place to shoot, evaluating the lighting, and thinking of composition.

I used the same off-camera flash with a small stand and umbrella that I used earlier that day to shoot Mercer Island coach Ed Pepple.

There was a big soft recliner in the living room and I asked Coach Comer to sit in it with Ben close to him.

As I checked the exposures and made some initial test frames, Comer leaned over and kissed his son on the cheek. It was a tender moment, and I knew there was nothing else I could do to make a better picture.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 24-70/2.8 lens @ 62mm, ISO 250, 1/125th sec, f5.6)

For backup, I made some frames with the entire family (dad, mom and son), but was soon on my way.

Sometimes it just works out. I'm thankful, as always for my subjects for giving me some of their time, and I couldn't be happier for the Comer family.

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