The Outer Banks Voice – “It’s Worth It”

“This is what is worth it”

By Kip Tabb | Outer Banks Voice on June 17, 2021

Local sports photographers turn moments into memories

Mike Brisson, Wright Emory and Richard Miller share a passion for sports photography and a commitment to covering local matches. In high school, middle school, and even some Rec League games, they are often seen walking the sidelines, camera in hand, looking for the right moment, the moment that tells a story.

It’s a labor of love and they certainly don’t get rich from what they do. In fact, it is doubtful whether they will be able to break even. But speaking to them, it’s obvious that what’s important are the images and the children whose stories and moments they’ve captured.

(Photos by Left Field Photography)

(Photos by Left Field Photography)

(Photos by Left Field Photography)

(Photos by Left Field Photography)

(Photos by Left Field Photography)

(Photos by Left Field Photography)

Mike Brisson, Left Field Photographer

During the 2008 recession, the company Mike Brisson worked for had to cut his hours and wages and he needed to supplement his income. He saw an ad in the Coastland Times for someone to cover sports in Manteo.

“So I said, ‘Damn, I’ll do it. I’m going to try it part-time, ”he recalls.

It was a good fit. “I know the sport, I love the sport, so I can follow the ball. I know where the action is so I can find that plan, ”he says.

He photographs all of Manteo’s sports, but he admits that football is his favorite.

“Probably because that’s what I played when I was growing up so I could follow the game, he says. “First Flight and Manteo, especially when they get together [and with] Manteo is now on the rise, I would say football is the most fun for me to shoot. “

By 2011, his business had returned to full hours and full salaries – and writing and photography was taking too long. He therefore gave up writing and concentrated on photography.

Manteo continues to be where his attention is focused. Brisson has a full-time job and going to the beach, he notes, adds time to what is almost a volunteer occupation – especially since he has stopped charging for his images as COVID restrictions swept the region.

“I used to charge for downloads,” he explains. “But when COVID started, I was like, ‘so I could cheer the kids up a bit. “I just started donating all of my downloads.

With 13 years of photos, he’s noticed that sometimes there’s a full story of some of the kids he follows.

“Focusing on the pictures coincided with all of my friends, the kids who have grown up. I just started taking pictures of them throughout high school. A lot of these kids have graduated, and they’ve moved on. So I have a chronological sports gallery for a lot of children here, ”he observes.

Wright Emory, OBX Sport Shots

Before there was such a thing as digital photography, Wright Emory was a freshman in high school taking photos for the school yearbook.

“I enjoyed it,” he says. So he took all his savings and ordered a camera.

“I guess my parents would say this was ordered secretly,” he says. “A UPS man showed up with a delivery and my mom said, ‘We haven’t ordered anything.’ ”

He must keep the camera.

“It was a Pentax Spotmatic 1000, delivered with a 55-millimeter lens, a 35-millimeter lens, a 200-millimeter lens. And it was $ 269.99, ”Emory says. That’s about $ 1,600 in 2021 dollars.

Capturing action in sports has always fascinated him, but it’s not just the action that brings an image to life. “Filming the movement, capturing something, you know, a slice of time,” he says. “But above all, you are looking for emotion.”

He started taking photos of local high school sports in 2005 or 2006, when he got his first digital camera and a friend’s daughter was on the First Flight High School football team.

“It was one of my first experiences watching football in eastern North Carolina,” he said. “That’s what interested me and the next year was when I started going to football games.”

Emory covers all sports, but football is the most interesting.

“Football is the king as far as the most attention,” he says. “You can go around the court trying to get someone to catch a pass or trying to get a good block.”

“And invariably, mom wants her son’s to be on the sidelines with the headset,” he adds.

The importance of this image to parents is a guiding principle in how Emory views her photos.

“Every football race is not the Heisman,” he says. “Between that Heisman frame, there are legs sticking out or an arm or a tongue… The last thing you want to do is make the athlete goofy or something. So you try to look at his best position.

Manteo’s only complete pass – a short pass into the end zone for a two-point conversion.

A strong shot from First Flight found the top of the net for a late second half score.

Game over. No more competitors.

Ayden O’Neal (Manteo) dives to third base trying to stop a hard ground player on the line.

Several players were seen flying away during the match, demonstrating the athleticism of both teams.

Manteo goalkeeper Montanta Miller unsuccessfully attempts to stop the First Flight Lady Nighthawks’ second score.

Madi Norris (# 16, First Flight) jumps to avoid the home plate tag.

Photography Richard L. Miller

Richard Miller has done a lot of things over the years.

“Photography has never been a profession,” he explains. “For many years I was a scientist. I went to school for a long time, got several degrees, worked for NASA for 21 years, and then I became a professor at ECU.

Photography, however, was always a part of what he did. In Miami, where he grew up, he began to hone his skills with filmmaking. Later, with NASA, he was introduced to digital cameras to document his work.

And to him, photography seemed to provide a nice counterweight to the data-driven world of science.

“I was using my analytical side of my brain,” he explains. “Photography was a way for me to satisfy the creative side of life. “

He is now retired and he does photography. He shoots all sports. But baseball is clearly his preference.

“Baseball is called the thinking man’s game because with every pitch you have to know what happened, and if so, what are you going to do to anticipate it… position. It doesn’t always happen that way, but I get a lot of hits because I guess the situation, ”he says.

In addition to his sports in the Outer Banks, Miller also walks off the beach, taking his camera to several college campuses.

Frankly in his observations, he points out that in a digital world, the value of photos has changed.

“Before this generation, Facebook, every time there was a natural disaster, people lost their homes,” he says. “And they were interviewed,” they said, “we can rebuild. We can do it all. We cannot replace our fingerprints.

Still, there are times when an image becomes priceless, something that was reported to Miller recently.

“In 2019, I shot Division Two College Baseball World Series,” he says. “I was contacted maybe four months ago, and a player said, ‘Hey, do you have any with me during this? [World Series] … I didn’t know it would be my last game. ‘”

“I looked and said ‘yes’, he recalls. “This is what is worth it. When you are able to provide a child or parent with a keepsake they thought was gone.



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