PASCAGOULA, Mississippi – One of the highlights of Mississippi Press staff each week during the fall come on Friday evening / Saturday morning when freelance photographer Kerry Bass’s weekly email arrives.
The email will simply say “Take a look” followed by a link to an online case. Inside that folder will be over a dozen photos taken during one or two Friday night football games in high school (it will sometimes take half of one game, then the second half of another) .
Most weeks there will be at least one standout photo that produces a “Wow! From the viewer.
“It’s a compulsion, an interest in preserving life at a specific time,” Bass said of his passion for photography. “I can look at pictures of my children, for example, and I can hear their voices, see their manners – it all comes back.
“The photo is the key to the lock of a memory. It is a time portal. You are transported to a different place and time.
Bass’s love for photography was evident from an early age. His earliest memory is getting his hands on his mother’s compact camera when he was 8, taking so many photos of his family that he burned all of his mother’s flash cubes (younger readers should look “lightning cubes”).
“Flash (no pun intended) until 1984, when I got my first ‘professional’ SLR camera, a Pentax K1000, 35mm. I still have it. It was sort of when I started to learn the aperture, the speed of film – it was my first foray into real photography.
Bass would graduate with a communications degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1992 and married his wife, Leigh, in 1998. They have two children: daughter Bailey, 21, who will graduate from Ole Miss in the spring with the intention to continue and obtain a doctorate in occupational therapy; and Brady, 17, a student at Resurrection Catholic High School in Pascagoula.
Bass works as a medical sales representative for Vifor Pharma, a leader in the fields of iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal therapies. But after working his day job, Bass can usually be found at night and on weekends with a camera in hand, filming something, somewhere.
The work he does for Mississippi Press includes not only high school football, but also events ranging from Cruisin ‘the Coast to a soapbox derby at Moss Point. He also photographs football for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Pascagoula High School and a range of sports for Resurrection.
In addition, he also tours for The Melange Dance Company and works in the studio.
Bass is asked if he has a preference.
“Sport or dance,” he replied. “This is the moment when you capture the athlete – and I include the dancers as the athletes – I like to capture a subject at the peak of their movement, whether it’s a crazy jump a dancer is doing, a baseball player as the ball hits the bat, a cone of snow grabs in the outfield, the eyes of a quarterback as he scans the field.
Bass considers his close-ups of soccer players, taking the viewer “inside the helmet” to see the eyes, the expression, to be among his best.
“It kind of gets you into the mind of the player,” he said. “When you see a quarterback or a running back, their eyes in the heat of the moment, you can see the emotion and how they’re trying to figure it out in their head, the next step. “
Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the images of Bass is this fact: he is almost entirely self-taught.
“Ninety-nine percent (self-taught),” he said. “Regarding the camera, the elements of photography, before 2005, I was self-taught. After 2005, with so many tutorials online, I started picking them up from there. I took a Photoshop course and an off-camera flash course to learn studio lighting.
“Most of the time it was done through trial and error. Lots of mistakes, “he added with a laugh.” But that’s how I learned. Understanding the aperture was probably the most important thing that allowed me to grow as a photographer. (The aperture controls the brightness of the image that passes through the lens and falls on the image sensor).
Bass compares getting a good shot to landing a 7-pound bass, or bowling seven strokes in a row, or a golf shot at 170 yards.
“It’s one of those times where you’ve been training for years and years and you get that perfect scenario and put yourself in the right position for this amazing event to happen, and then it does. “, did he declare.
“It’s an exhilaration, an accomplishment. This is what I shoot for. I go there in order to capture images, to tell a story.
And, we would add, it does it very well.