Personal Column: Student photographer takes fond memories away from College game visit

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Baylor safety puts big stop on Iowa's wide receiver.(Cynthia Rangel photo)
Baylor safety puts big stop on Iowa State’s wide receiver.(Cynthia Rangel photo)

As I walked into the media room at McLane Stadium, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. I was a seventeen year old high school photographer walking into a college football game working for a big time newspaper for a state I’ve never visited. I felt so out of place when I began to scan the room. I turned to see everyone in the room and everyone was almost double if not tripled my age. And not to mention I was the only girl in the room. I felt like a fish in a shark tank. I was the youngest and most inexperienced photographer there; I was genuinely terrified.

I never thought I would feel inadequate but at that moment couldn’t help but feel it. Sure, I won a few awards for my photos, but that was for a high school newspaper. It was nowhere near the size of the Ames Tribune housed in the state of Iowa. I was sitting down getting my equipment ready for the game and I couldn’t help but overhear some of the men talking about who their working for. One of the photographers was from ESPN and another one was from The Dallas Morning News. I was in awe and couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to work for a newspaper like that.

Before the game started I wanted to talk to a few of them.  I went and sat down with a photographer. I asked him how long he had been a photographer? I was shocked at his answer. He had been a photographer for 30 plus years. That’s almost double my age. I went on and asked him what advise he had for someone like me who’s just starting off. He told me the most important thing is to have confidence in yourself. Never forget who you are and be proud of what you accomplished. He told me it doesn’t matter if it’s a big accomplishment or a small one, just believe in yourself and you can make it happen.

I’ve taken pictures at many different football games and in many different types of weather conditions. But I was not prepared for this. It was not only raining but the wind was blowing. I was wearing a regular sweater and a Baylor Poncho.  That was the only poncho I could find, sorry Iowa State. My sweater was soaked and so was my hair.

We didn’t have a rain poncho for our lens so we improvised and used a trash bag to wrap the barrel of my borrowed 300mm lens that I could never afford to buy on my high school budget. It was hard to concentrate in the first half.  It was my first professional game and I was not prepared for the intensity of the game. When halftime came we went back into the pressroom to load our photos onto our computer. This also gave us time to dry off and allow our clothes time to dry before returning to the field in less than eight minutes. Halftime was over faster than I wanted it to be. I did not fully dry and I barely had time to edit photos with my fingers shaking from near frostbite.  But I found a few to submit to the paper just in time to head back to the field for more action.  I didn’t let the cold bother me and I went on to take photos during the second half. The second half was better than the first. During the first half it took me a while to get my groove on but when the second half started I was into it. When the game was over I was not prepared for the response of the crowd. Even on a rainy day the student section was full and was more alive than any crowd I’ve ever seen.  I can truly say it was one of the best days of my life.

With everything that happened that day I thought about what went through my mind earlier  that morning and  realized I was overthinking things. When I walked into the media room I was terrified, thinking that I was not good enough. I thought I was going to make a fool of myself. But I realized that it doesn’t matter if you are just starting out in the business.  Everyone starts somewhere small and goes on to do great things. My whole attitude towards everything changed that day at the Baylor Vs. Iowa State football game. I realized it doesn’t matter where you start, but where you finish.