A few weeks ago, I was photographing The NCS semi-final football game between Foothill HS and Antioch HS. I always enjoy heading back to Antioch, as it's the High School I graduated from and it's always full of familiar, friendly faces. I always run into old classmates, fellow journalists, fellow photographers, my former teachers, and the staff members that were there when I was attending High School. One of my favorite teachers to see is Mr. Mathews.
My very first high school class ever was 9th Grade Honors English with Mr. Mathews. I was extremely nervous my first day of high school, due to the fact that most of my friends had chosen to go to Deer Valley (the other HS in town). I didn't know to many people, and I was fairly scared due to how some students were acting in the hallway. I sat down in Mathews classroom and wasn't quite sure what to think. He was funny and a little loud. Okay, maybe really loud. But he was cool. His class actually calmed me down the first day. After a little while I really enjoyed first period, and looked forward to it everyday. I learned a ton in that class, although it almost never felt like we were working. For the rest of high school, Mathews was a teacher I constantly went back to visit and talk to in the hallways.
After the game, I went home to upload all of my memory cards and send a few photos to various publications for purchase as I usually do, when I got a message from Mathews asking if it'd be okay to give me a call although it was well past midnight. I was still up editing photos so I figured why not. I'm so glad I did. Mathews was talking about how awesome the game was. The crowd, the players, the people, the cold, everything. It was great. He then went on to talk about how it was awesome seeing so many alumni out helping out, whether it be cheer coaches, fundraising, and even us photographers! We talked a little bit about photography and he was completely in awe of how I gave him a mini-report on camera settings. He went on about how he remembers me coming in the first day, and how quiet and reserved I was, although he had a feeling I'd be one to keep in eye on (in a good way). Mathews then went on to talk about how great of a young adult I've become and how far I've come with my people skills. Freshmen year I was really nervous to get up in front of the class to read a 5 minute quick write, and by senior year I had no problem standing in front of a large group of people to give a 20 minute report by myself. Now I work in a job where I deal with different clientele and anywhere from 20-300 kids a day. On the sidelines of the football games, I'm running up and down socializing with people almost as much if not more then actually photographing the game. He then told me I was definitely going far and he couldn't wait to see where I end up. It was such an awesome way to finish off the day. And it meant a lot. While Mathews wasn't the only teacher responsible for me coming out of my shell, he was definitely a huge and important part, and while I'm still not the greatest at writing, I really enjoy writing.
The next couple of days I really thought about how much of an impact everyone in high school had on me. It really shaped me and I wouldn't be where I am now without those experiences. I really started thinking about how much I impact people. At my job, we get 30 seconds with each child to take their picture. I definitely don't remember most of the kids that come through my set. I always assumed that the kids wouldn't remember me either. Surprisingly, there has been quite a few times where I go back to a school for a random reason, and a kid comes up to me and says "Hey, you took my picture! It's my mom's favorite picture of me ever!" or "Thanks for taking my picture! Can you come back next year? You're my favorite photographer!" One of my favorite parts is when we are working with a child who's parent comes in to help because they don't take good photos, and you catch a photo that the parent say's is the first ever professional photo of them smiling (and they're 10 years old+) or it's the best picture they've ever had. It's those little things that I think of as just doing my job, yet it's made such an impact on one or more people. And those are just the parents that come in. I can't imagine what the parent's say when the picture's are taken home.
It's amazing how I went from a tiny, shy freshman to a slightly larger (although still tiny) young adult who makes an impact on so many people's lives, all because of the people that made an impact on mine. Mr. Mathews is just doing his job, and may not realize that he's going above and beyond for everyone. I mean heck, he's just doing his job. Heck, I'm just doing my job and impact people without realizing it. Think about how much of an impact you might be making on people. Give someone that compliment, hold that door, let someone know they dropped something. It might be the best thing that's happened to them all day.