by Jocelyn Prothro
The sky was black and the rain fell like bullets. Only the lightning brightened the sky as it also knocked down trees. The thunder scared all the animals away and it became too dangerous for anyone to go outside. I grabbed my camera and raced out the door.
It was early in the morning when I rushed out of the house before my parents got up. I protected my camera by throwing it under my jacket and headed toward the public park.
The heavy rain drenched me but the wind subsided, its damage nearly complete. Branches and trees were down throughout the park. I instantly started taking pictures one after another. My favorite was one of a giant old maple tree completely knocked over behind a "no parking sign." I captured the leaves from the tree that blew in the wind as raindrops fell gracefully from each branch. I snapped more shots. I feared that a tree could fall on me at any moment, but I was anxious to tell the story of the storm. My heart pounded a billion miles a minute as the rain continued to fly down. After an hour, I hurried home. At 14, this was my first serious encounter with photography and certainly not my last.
Growing up, sports were a big part of my life: soccer, basketball, tennis, ice skating, and gymnastics. Everyone assumed that athletics would be my destiny as I was the tallest in my grade. As much as I had loved sports, I started to grow out of my athletic side and more into an artist. Telling stories with my camera became irresistible. Sports were fun, but photography became my passion.
In tenth grade, I felt I disappointed many people when I decided not to try out for any sports teams so I could focus more on photography. My coaches, teammates, and supporters had been with me through my athletic journey. It was hard to put down the ball. Nearly all of my friends played at least one sport. I missed suiting up with them before a game. I hated going home while everyone else was at a team pasta party. However, for a long time, I was so focused on pleasing others that I did not explore my true interests until photography came into my life. It marked a strong expression of independence.
Photography enables me to see things more clearly beyond the moments when I actually have a camera in my hand. Last summer, I attended the Lead Summer Business Institute Program at the University of Michigan. We were assigned to put together a business plan to create a new football stadium. I approached the project as if I were about to take a picture. I created the stadium by imagining each part of it as photograph-the field, the seats, the stadium, concessions stands and all.
At school, I didn't totally abandon sports. I started taking pictures of the games. I could see the dedication of the athletes from a new vantage point. My favorite picture shows two players fighting each other to get the ball during a very competitive soccer game. You can see their arms pushing against each other's and the rage in their faces as they compete for the ball. I knew what it felt like to be in their positions and to want so badly to steal the ball from your opponent. Yet it was much more satisfying to shoot the photo rather than be a part of that chase. Capturing the action with my camera was lasting and as exciting as being alone with my camera during the storm in the park.
Jocelyn Prothro is a freshman at the University of Maryland at College Park and a 2012 graduate of Kent Place School in Summit. New Jersey.