Ding! The softball hits the bat and flies out toward center field. Matt Reynolds swings his 400mm lens toward first base and quickly focuses on the bag, waiting for the play at first.

ClickClickClickClickClick. He gets five frames of the play and quickly focuses on the umpire making the call.

Reynolds is a senior at Jacksonville State University, and shooting softball games is just one of the things he has done to prepare for the Senior Show at Hammond Hall Gallery on JSU’s campus. Reynolds is one of the most promising photography students to come from JSU, though he didn’t intend on studying the art.

“I had planned to follow my mom into nursing,” Reynolds said. “I knew I could get that at JSU and it made sense. But I had borrowed her camera to shoot sports while at Piedmont High School, and really liked taking pictures of the sports action. I switched my major to art when I found out that the art department had some good photography instructors.”

Doug Clark and Sarah Cusimano Miles, the photography instructors at JSU, are constantly trying to recruit photography students for the program.

“Matt’s a shooter,” Clark said. “He’s one of the best we’ve had in our program, and he really gets it.”

Matt’s portfolio shows that he does indeed get it. From football to basketball to softball, his images show action at its peak, with the determination on the player’s faces clearly showing. When Clark and Miles were helping Reynolds’ develop his technical skills, they could tell he was developing the skills necessary to shoot sports action. Clark introduced Reynolds to Steve Latham, JSU’s director of photographic services and, in a rare move, the undergraduate was given some shooting responsibilities for producing official university images.

“Mr. Latham would get me into a football game and make sure I knew it was up to me to get the shots,” Reynolds said. “He expected good work and I got better quickly, because I knew it was up to me to show what I could do.”

Reynolds’ work is a step above the usual shots of tree bark and peeling paint one might expect from an art major, and he is ready to put his skills to the test.

“I want to get a full-time university job somewhere, shooting everything that happens, not just sports,” Reynolds said. “I think I’ll be happy being a photographer, and I’m glad doors opened at JSU so I could find out what career I really wanted. Nursing would have worked, but I love taking pictures.”

The Senior Show at Hammond Hall Gallery at JSU features work by 15 senior students from April 17-25. There are photographs, ceramics, drawings, prints and works of graphic design that represent the best output of students who will soon graduate with bachelor’s degrees in art.

David Cummings practices dentistry in Anniston and has been a photographer since he was in high school. He is president of the JSU Visual Arts Society, a group of local art lovers that supports the department of art through fundraising events.