By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published January 10, 2019
ATLANTA–I always say I’ve never taken a photograph that God didn’t orchestrate or see first. If I’m attentive, able to anticipate what God is about to unveil and I’m in the right place at the right time, the opportunity for capturing a special moment is possible.
There are two photos from 2018 that speak to me in that way.
The first photo is from a story published in the Jan. 25, 2018 issue entitled “Athletic director Mark Kelly retires, leaves ‘legacy of excellence’ at St. Pius X.” I photographed Kelly during an interview in his office, during the high school’s annual Christmas basketball classic and during his retirement luncheon.
During his retirement speech, he shared many great memories from his 42-year career at St. Pius X High School. His talk was inspirational and amusing. From the moment he completed his speech, the crowd was standing and applauding. They continued to do so after he returned to his table.
As Kelly made that walk from the podium back to his table, his face was filled with emotion. My camera was focused on Kelly, but I held off pressing the shutter. I was hoping I’d catch something special and God provided it. Before Kelly took his seat, he released all that emotion into an embrace with his wife. The Kellys are in focus and the depth of field is such that the background is blurred, yet you can still see the people applauding Kelly. It punctuated an instant of closure with love.
The second image took place at the Eucharistic Congress. I’ve been photographing the Congress since 1998. Every year I agonize over covering it, because I always see the same things play out before my camera. With each Congress, I pray that I see something unlike previous years or something I routinely see reveals itself in a different way.
I arrived early, like always, to cover the opening Mass for the Congress. Beforehand, I was walking from one end of the Georgia International Convention Center to the other looking for possible photographs. At one point, I saw a man carrying a statue of a scourged Jesus from the exhibitors’ hall. The statue was between three- and four-feet tall. It was a bit unusual, so I snapped a photo, took down his name (Jose Torres) and where he was from (San Diego, California), and that was the end of that, so I thought.
During Mass Torres took a seat on the end by the center aisle. The statue of Jesus was on the floor next to his seat. Since I like to take a spot on the edge of the center aisle, so I can photograph the homilist, I sat down on the floor just in front of Torres and the Jesus statue. While the congregation was sitting during the homily, I took some photos of Torres and the statue with people around them. But when the congregation stood up after the homily, that’s when the image took on an entirely different look. Several people standing around the statue had assumed a stance similar to the statue—hands crossed, one over the other.
While the Blessed Sacrament is often the center of attention at the Congress, the Lord not only presented himself in different way, but provided a touch of humor in the process.
This is part of a package featuring the most remembered stories of 2018.