Pictures with punch: Sun Herald's best photos of 2014

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDErick Bone lands a solid punch on Peter Oluoch during a welterweight division match prior to the IBF middleweight championship on October 8, at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDErick Bone lands a solid punch on Peter Oluoch during a welterweight division match prior to the IBF middleweight championship on October 8, at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. SUN HERALD

What goes on behind the camera is just as important as the inner working of the actual gear. Photographer Yousuf Karsh gave insight on what it truly takes to get the image. "Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera."

The photographer chooses the composition, selects an exposure that will use the light to create a mood, shutter speed to freeze the action or create a blur to suggest motion and aperture that will control the depth of field for a tight or loose focus. All of this is usually done in a matter of seconds as the photographer anticipates the action that will occur.

Renowned photographer Ansel Adams maintained that one doesn't "take" a photograph rather the person behind the camera "makes it." Adams further stated, "The most important component of a camera is ... inches behind it."

Here are some of the favorite photos from Sun Herald photographers made in 2014.

I passed up this photo as I rushed to my car to transmit photos of the big fireworks display at Jones Park. After transmitting my photos, I came back and was pleasantly surprised to see these children still enjoying their sparklers. I silhouetted them against the colors coming from the fireworks. There is an adage in photography to go early and stay late since the image rarely happens at the assigned time. This was one of those "stay late" images.

I was covering the Slavic tournament for news side not sports so I was looking from something different than the typical golf photo. The sky jumped out at me and I decided to get a photo that showed the tournament as well as the beautiful day. Luckily, the golfers I was covering were having a good time and didn't mind a photographer lying prone behind them as they teed off. Getting that different angle and exposing for the sky gave me this image.

Joyful reunions of soldiers coming home are always fun assignments. Before the soldiers arrive, I try to shoot a few pictures of interesting people, remembering that I'll take their picture again during the happy reunion. Once the soldiers arrive, it often becomes bedlam as families race to be with each other again. This often calls for taking pictures fast and furious while also keeping an eye on the families that you took pictures of prior to the soldiers arrival.

While most rules of photography are golden, I also think rules are made to be broken. My assignment was to get a portrait of Mr. Whigham. While talking to him, I realized this was a man with an immense sense of faith. I immediately focused on the white cross and the contrast it presented against Whigham's chest. To me, this was better than the standard run-of-the-mill portrait.

Whether for myself or for the paper, I enjoy getting pictures of the beauty along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I find it relaxes me. I came across this image while leaving another assignment. I saw the walker in the distance and positioned myself so he would walk into my image at the right time. Then, I waited for the picture to happen.

Spot news, such as this, has more to do with being present than the skill of the photographer. I can't say that I can take much credit for this photograph. Robbins' expression reflects grief and loss after losing his home.

This is my favorite portrait from 2014. I like how the light highlights the sides of his face, and the simplicity really forces the focus on Whittle. He was also a joy to spend time with.

Though the focus of this photo is on Lovett, I like how there's so much more going on in the background. It feels raw and candid.

This photo has a strong composition. Coupled with the reflective expression on the little girl's face this is a strong photograph that visually represents Memorial Day.

This is a photograph from a long-term project I worked on with reporter Justin Mitchell. It's impossible to pick my favorite photograph from the series. It was an exceptional experience to be there as Derek and Tori faced Derek's cancer with such grace and optimism.

There were a lot of heart-wrenching images from this story. This was one of the more subtle images that showed how Ja'Naya's death affected the community.

Clarence was my favorite story of the year. With all the depressing stories we have to do, it is fun to do one that is uplifting. The exuberance with which he lives his life should serve as a model for all of us.

Hard to explain why I picked this one, except to say it is another fun photo. It has nothing to do with the story I was covering, but boy it was hot that day and these boys couldn't take it.

This was one of the most tender moments I have ever witnessed. It was special for the sailor, his daughter and everyone who was there.

This is just fun. The expressions on the counselor and the camper say it all.

The light hitting the artist's face is striking and sets the tone for this photograph. I love the layers created with the client's neck and the tattoo gun.

This photo is super special to me because I think it tells the story of Karli as an artist. In her studio space, she has her own art on the wall and huge window that allows natural light. I love the way the light hits her face.

The emotion in this photo speaks for itself, and the lines created by the protesters made for an easy and provocative photograph. I love the one woman lying on the steps with eyes open. It really sets the tone for the event and tells a story.

At a movement heavy event, sometimes you just capture a great moment. I photographed many South Mississippians who competed in the brawl, but this photograph of White was my favorite shot of the day. I love the lines, the layers and the intensity in his face.

This was an emotional shot. Lindsey's face was full of smiles and tears as she got to watch her grandfather help put her in her wedding dress. Her Poppa couldn't get over how beautiful she looked.

The flashlight exposing the coroner's face allowed me not to use a flash on this photo, and I think it tells the whole story of a tragic interstate wreck.

In explaining sports photography, photographer Lawrence Schiller said, "The most important thing you learn as a sports photographer is anticipation -- not where the action is taking place, but where it's going to take place. Not where the subject is now, but where they're going to be." Access and anticipation is the key to capturing the moment in sports photography. Instead of just reacting, the photographer is clued in to the down and distance at a football game, the moves of a manager in baseball or who will take that last-second shot in basketball. Getting that peak image that tells the story and shows the emotional highs and lows of a game is the lure of sports photography. Getting that image is a competition in itself as the photographer matches one's visual ability with the talents of the players on the field or court.

Photographers were told to get images before the game to put on the web. To me, this meant having a little artistic license. I chose to go for a cloud shot with a silhouette of the players during pre-game warm up.

Baseball is my second favorite sport to cover after football. I like to get a high vantage point which allows me to have a clean background instead of all those advertisements on the outfield wall. I try to pay attention to the batter's stance and guess where the ball will be hit. This time, I guessed right.

This is a full frame image as the Stone High players run on to the field. I like to shoot super tight so the person looking at the image doesn't have to hunt for the "picture."

While I'm expected to get the standard sports photo, I also enjoy looking for something different. The swimmer's bubble trail make an interesting image from the swim meet. Sometimes, the different shot is the best image.

Back in my day of playing football, I was a wide receiver. I guess I'm partial to the "catch" photo in football. I like the way the Gulfport receiver is using the Biloxi player's head to help him catch the ball.

Boxing is a difficult sport to photograph. Besides the fact that the boxers are in continual motion, dancing around each other and often blocking the key action moments with their body, there's also a limited field of vision between the bottom rope and ring to take unobstructed photos. All the elements aligned to make this the perfect shot.

When shooting sports sometimes the best picture from the game is not the team you were there to cover. I was at the championship to photograph Pascagoula, but one of my favorite reaction shots of the year was from West Jones. The look on the player's face, combined with being framed by his teammates rushing to congratulate him, made this the perfect shot.

This photograph is an example of patience paying off. I stood in this spot for quite some time because I knew there was potential for a nice layered shot with the swimmers' bodies. It just took a few tries.

It was the first game of the season, so it was fun to get one of these finger-tip catch shots.

It was a meaningless foul ball in the end, but not until the ball fell just out of the reach of Hoard's glove.

It seems like every time you shoot girls' basketball you always come away with a loose-ball shot, so this was different and kind of funny.

Pascagoula has a dedicated bunch of fans and I love the intensity of this cheering student.

O'Hern's face and Shubert's hair make this shot. It was an intense match and I knew the Hancock girls were going to let loose when they won.

It has been a year of amazing growth for our staff. The quality of our videos has improved as we have learned new tools, utilized new programs and have a better understood what our readers want to see. We still need to get the word out to our readers that, "Yes, Virginia, the Sun Herald does videos," and more importantly, they are high-quality, informative and entertaining. Spread the word.

The story of Clarence Kennedy Jr. was so inspiring I couldn't get it all into one video. This is a story of special relationships, and personal determination. In retrospect, I would have edited this tighter because shorter is always better. I am proud of how my video skills have grown this year and I look forward to continued improvement in the coming years. After 30 years in the business, it's like I'm a rookie again.

As I continue to learn video, I find that many of the things that make me like still photos also apply to video. I'm a history nut so I liked the Pearl Harbor Remembrance video. I liked using FDR's words as a storyteller as I shot the waving flag. Then, the saluting vets while "Taps" was played served as a fitting end to the video.

This was my first endeavor of making a complex mini-documentary. It combines multiple interviews with Derek and Tori, who were wonderful, with photography taken over a three- or four-month period. My favorite piece of editing is the intro, where I started with strong footage of Derek and transitioned to photos and a time lapse video timed to the sound of the beeps from Derek's chemo machine.