The first picture I ever got published

St. Paul Central player Rashem Sharpe before a game against St. Paul Highland Park on Saturday, October 10, 1998, at Highland Park High School
Photo by Mitchell Palmer McDonald

When I graduated from Central State University (Ohio) with a communications/ journalism degree in 1987, my plan was to become a sports writer. I had no desire to add sports photography to my repertoire.

Then it happened.

It was on a crisp clear Saturday, October 10, 1998. I was in my third year as a prep sports columnist for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder after 11 years in the same capacity at Insight News.

My father, Kwame McDonald, and I were at Highland Park Senior High School to cover a St. Paul City Conference matchup between the Scots and archrival Central. As usual, I was there to write a story about the game, and my father was there to take pictures. My dad also worked as a prep sports commentator for SPNN network, a cable television station in St. Paul.

Upon our arrival at the game, an SPNN producer asked my dad to join the broadcasting team after one of the assigned members couldn’t make it. He accepted and gave me his camera.

“You need to take pictures today,” my father said.

“I don’t want to take pictures. I want to write about the game,” I replied.

“You’ll be fine,” he said. “I’ll be back next week. Just do it this one time.”

I accepted his request.

Now the task was to figure out what I would shoot. I only needed one picture, but this was my first time. I looked across the field and saw Rashem Sharpe, a junior receiver for Central, walking across the field. For whatever reason I decided to take it.

After the game my father and I were going through the photos. There were plenty of good action photos that I had chosen to publish with my article.

My dad saw the picture taken of Sharpe and gave me some valuable advice. “Publish this one,” he said with excitement. “This is the one.”

“No way,” I replied. “I have some great action shots.”

“This is the one,” he said again, holding up Sharpe’s picture.

I took dad’s advice and published the picture. The responses I received were positive. However, the comments were not about the article but about the picture.

Filled with a little more confidence I told my dad that from here on out I would take my own pictures at sporting events.

Oh, by the way, Highland Park defeated Central 42-28 with Sharpe catching six passes for 147 and two touchdowns for the Minutemen.

As usual, Brother Kwame was right.