Seeing Through A Different Lens: Class of 24 Recap

Seeing Through A Different Lens: Class of ’24 Recap

Four years, hundreds of thousands of photos and countless moments captured. I started taking photos of State College Athletics when I was in sixth grade, capturing Park Forest’s rivalry win over Mount Nittany in football. After arriving at State High, the opportunities to cover the other sports became much more accessible and that’s where I started to grow.

Capturing moments these athletes could keep forever is what has driven me. Being around our school’s teams has taught me how much high school athletics can mean to its athletes, so being able to capture this incredibly special time in their lives means a lot. While I started with athletics, my work has expanded into a photojournalistic role. This past year, I have served as Lions’ Digest’s Photo Editor.

Selecting my 12 favorite photos from the last four years was a tough task. Going back through old events and pictures has brought me a lot of joy, especially seeing my progression from where I started to where I am now as a photographer. Reliving all the moments captured through these photographs has been a great way for me to reflect on my past four years of high school.

The photos seen throughout this piece are a combination of my favorites and some of what I think is my best work. With that being said, here are my favorite 12 photos of the past four years (in chronological order).

Freshman year:

Ryan Domico (‘22) runs a drill during a spring football practice, Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at Memorial Field. (Jacob Will)

This is one where I look back and say “this is a really great photo.” The framing, focus, and lighting all stand out to me when I look at this photo. Bigger than any of those is that it reminds us of a time when, even being outside, wearing a mask was still a regular practice. The resilience of student athletes during the 2020-21 school year shines heavily in my mind and the minds of many others. Altogether, this is one of my best shots.







Carson Franks (‘21) crosses the finish line as he places first in his heat in the 200-meter dash at the PIAA District Six Track and Field Championships, Thursday, May 20, 2021 at Altoona’s Mansion Park. (Jacob Will)

There is a lot about this photo I love. The part that stands out the most to me is the moment. Carson Franks, a three-sport varsity athlete, crosses the finish line of the 200-meter dash prelim at the District VI Championship with his head down, signifying his cross of the line. Him alone crossing the finish line is an impressive shot, but seeing the rest of the field fanned out behind him adds to the magnitude of his victory.





Track athletes celebrate and hoist the PIAA Boys AAA State Championship trophy after their victory at Shippensburg University, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Jacob Will)

This photo has a lot behind it. With less than a week left of my freshman year, I had the opportunity to take photos at the PIAA Track and Field State Championships. At the end of the day, the State High Boys Track and Field Team repeated as state champions (2019 champs, 2020 season canceled). The 2021 season was unlike any other with the impacts of COVID still lingering. The celebration and emotion shown in this photo were not just for the state championship winning season they just completed, it was for the season they had missed altogether.


Sophomore Year:

Davis Padgett (5) (‘22) runs towards the student section as he celebrates his scored goal during a soccer game against Cumberland Valley, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at State College’s North Turf. (Jacob Will)

This photo was one of the easiest to pick for this story. Since the moment I captured this photo, I knew it was going to be one of my best. Everything about this photo is right to me. The emotion of the player’s face and body language, the outstretched hands of the student section waiting to embrace him, his teammates following closely behind. It all makes this one of my best and favorite photos ever taken.




Jackson Lippincott (‘21) reaches out for a high five during Central PA’s Night To Shine drive through event, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. (Jacob Will)

The Night To Shine event was introduced to me through the State High football team, which was volunteering at this year’s (2022) event. Due to COVID restrictions, the normal prom that the honorees would have was turned into a drive-by parade, where volunteers lined the path and cheered for them as they drove by. This is a photo of State High student Jackson Lippencott (‘21) reaching out of his window to give one of the volunteers a high five. This photo is so special to me because I love the pure joy on his face.



Junior Year:

Yannick Habiyaremye (‘24) sings during State High’s second annual Lift Every Voice show Friday, Feb. 24, 2023 at State High’s Performing Arts Center. (Jacob Will)

Beyond this photo’s dark background and highlighted subject making it one of my best photos, there is also a lot of meaning behind it. The 2023 Lift Every Voice (LEV) talent show was its second annual event at State High. State High’s LEV is a performance club for BIPOC students at State High which culminates in a show at the end of the year for the school and community. This photo was taken during the second show, which has now become a staple of each school year. Yannick Habiyaremye (‘24) was a crowd favorite as he sang a song during the 2023 LEV event.


Max Bodner (‘25) leaps for one of his attempts during the long jump at the 2023 PIAA District Six Track and Field Championships, Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at Altoona’s Mansion Park. (Jacob Will)

This is one of my best action photos. The sharpness of the subject, the timing of the photo, the concentration of the athlete, the anticipation of what is going to happen next, all of those are aspects that bring me into the photo. Additionally, the leading line of the runway leads viewers straight to his foot, which in turn leads to the rest of the subject. I have taken thousands of photos looking down the long jump runway, but none have turned out quite as good as this one.









State High’s Boys and Girls Track and Field Teams take a celebratory victory lap around the track after winning their respective PIAA District Six Championships, Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at Altoona’s Mansion Park. (Jacob Will)

Celebrations are key. During my time as a sports photographer at State High, I have become very skilled at capturing celebrations. The track and field program has made it especially easy with its continued success over many, many years. This is a special celebration shot for me because both the boys and girls team took their celebratory victory lap together, something I had not seen or captured before. The emotion coming from all in the photograph shows how much dedication and care these athletes have for their sport. As far as photo-wise, I love the use of negative space in this photo. All around it is one of my stronger photos.


Jesse Myers (‘25) races in the prelims of the 200-meter dash during Day 1 of the 2023 PIAA State Track and Field Championships, Friday, May 26, 2023 at Shippensburg University. (Jacob Will)

This is one of my best sports photos. Ever. I love every part of this photo. The intense action, the competitiveness of the race, but most of all, the focus on the State High runner. This photo was taken during the prelims of the 200-meter dash of the PIAA State Track and Field Championships, an event Jesse Myers (‘25) would go on to win gold in later that weekend. When I see this photo, I get a smile on my face because it is one that I am incredibly proud of.










Senior Year:

Ditta Kowalik (‘24) begins her stroke during the Girls 100-meter Butterfly, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024 at State College’s Natatorium. (Jacob Will)

This is one of the best photos I’ve ever taken. My favorite part is how the swimmer’s arms fill the frame and how she is emerging from the water as the photo is taken. Taking swimming photos is very difficult. A lot of it is luck because the athletes are moving so fast, in and out of the water, so getting the perfect picture hardly ever comes. I won’t say it was all luck because I have practice at this, but I was in the right place at the right time.



Girls lacrosse players break down huddle after State College’s matchup with Mechanicsburg, Thursday, March 28, 2024 at State College’s North Turf. (Jacob Will)

Emotion is one of the most important things I try to capture in my photographs. Whether the emotion is at the forefront of the image or not, it is always there. In this photo, emotion is the dominating force. The excitement and enthusiasm of the players as they get ready to break down their post game huddle is what makes this photo so strong to me. 




State High Girls Lacrosse Head Coach Tara Hohenshelt signs the game balls in which Ella Tambroni (‘25) and Olivia Miller (‘24) both reached significant career milestones, Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at Penn State’s Panzer Stadium.(Jacob Will)


Details are incredibly important. When those details also tell a story is when the photo takes that extra step. After a dominant game from the State High Girls Lacrosse team in which Ella Tambroni (‘25) scored her 100th career goal and Olivia Miller (‘24) caused her 100th career turnover, Head Coach Tara Hohenshelt signs the balls used during those plays to gift to each player. Capturing this moment is special to me. It is a subtle, intimate moment between the coach and the players, showing a sign of respect and gratitude to them. The focus of this picture (right) also catches my eye, while not super intentional, it still catches the eye.


These past four years have taught me so much as a photographer. Reflecting on where I started, the mindset I had at the time, and seeing where I am now has been something special. Seeing growth in a skill is not something everyone gets to have laid out in front of them, but doing this photo story has given me the chance to reflect on my time as a photographer at State High and to see my own growth in the art.

To those looking to get their foot in the door with photography, my best piece of advice is to SHOOT. The only way I have been able to grow as a photographer has been over time and completing this project has really shown me that. To State High Publications, thank you for bringing me in and making me one of your own. Bringing the Photo Editor position back this year has been both an honor and a privilege. I am super excited to see where this photography department is headed in the future.

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