Sun Herald photographers share their favorite moments of 2017

Moments are fleeting, but the Sun Herald’s talented photojournalism staff is expert at capturing moments that help define the events that shape South Mississippi.

While there has been an increased emphasis on video at Sunherald.com, the Sun Herald photo staff still works hard to find those single moments that sum up a story, because images can convey details beyond what words can express.

This year saw the departure of longtime Sun Herald photographer, Tim Isbell, who has a particular knack for capturing the beauty of the Coast — aided by his inability to sleep past 5 a.m. — and during his tenure at the Sun Herald he loved shooting sports, especially baseball and anything involving his alma mater, Southern Miss.

Isbell would shoot a USM athletic event any chance he got. Needless to say, Isbell’s images will be missed at Sunherald.com.

Here we include some of the Sun Herald photography staff’s favorite images of 2017.

Amanda McCoy

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A light coat of snow covers the beach in Gulfport after a short round of flurries on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Snow fell in South Mississippi throughout the day with the majority falling in the Pine Belt. Photographer’s comments: It’s not everyday it snows on the beach in Mississippi. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Tyler Schoenberger tears up as he looks around the room dedicated to his son’s memory. Jaxon Schoenberger died in 2014 after battling DIPG for eight months. He loved sports, especially baseball, and was given numerous signed balls and other mementos from local and professional teams during his illness. Photographer’s comments: Of all the interviews that I had while working on the paper’s DIPG project this year talking with Tyler and Salena Schoenberger impacted me the most. I learned a lot about holding grief and resilience from hearing their story. This was an unexpected moment that happened following the interview. I feel like the look on Tyler’s face — as he’s surrounded by all these things that symbolize the son he lost — says so much. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Exavier Wiggins, 9, of Biloxi attends a vigil on Sunday, March 12, 2017, at Doris L. Busch Park in Biloxi for the victims of the charter bus that was struck by a CSX freight train at the Main Street crossing earlier that week. Photographer’s comments: I love the composition of this photo, particularly the way that Exavier Wiggins is looking up at the candle and how the flame is sheltered by his hand. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Shrimp boats hug the shore in Biloxi on Tuesday evening, June 6, 2017, before heading to open water in anticipation of the opening day of shrimp season. Shrimp season in Mississippi opened on June 7. Photographer’s comments: Shrimp and oyster boats are some of my favorite things to shoot on the Coast. I also love shooting at dusk. This photograph combined both of those things. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Josh Myers holds his daughter Sophia Myers’ hand in the sunroom that was converted into a beautiful bedroom for her arrival home from the hospital on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. Sophia was hospitalized three weeks prior in the pediatric intensive care unit at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile. She was suffering from a rare, terminal brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic potine glioma. Photographer’s comments: The connection between Josh Myers and his daughter makes this photograph extremely touching and poignant. That combined with the composition and reflection of lights makes it one of my favorites. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Bruce Sellier, center, steers a boat along Bayou Caddy on Sunday, June 25, 2017, to the place where the boat Vanessa Mauffray, photographed right, was in was it was broadsided, causing her death one year prior. Family and friends gathered and boated to the spot to place a new wreath at the location, along with flowers and to release balloons. Photographer’s comments: This was a somber event to cover. I feel like the composition says a lot about what it was like, as a bystander, to be with the family as they paid their respects on the one-year anniversary of Vanessa Mauffray’s death. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Howard Jenkins, left, jokes around with Ted Hearn, 84, at the Salvation Army in Gulfport on Thursday, June 15, 2017. Jenkins is just one of the many people Hearn has helped over the years. Jenkins is now employed as the custodian for Salvation Army. Photographer’s comments: I love the interaction that was captured between these two men. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Boy Scouts gather to participate in the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Cub Scouts Pack 61’s final dance on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport. The group taught about their cultural dances. Photographer’s comments: I love the color of this photographer — the warm red tones of the fire contrasted by the deep blue of the night sky. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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Pass Road Elementary school singers gather around as Chance Gaines, 10, tries his hand playing Sun Herald reporter Jeff Clark’s guitar during a visit on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The singers would be performing with Foreigner that Saturday. Photographer’s comments: I like all of the kids’ different reactions as Chance hams it up while strumming on the guitar. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com
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The moon blocks the the sun during a total solar eclipse in St. Louis, Missouri on Aug. 21, 2017. Photographer’s comments: This was an amazing experience and one that I couldn’t miss. As soon as I heard there was going to be a total eclipse in the United States in 2017 I started making plans so I could photograph it.

John Fitzhugh

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Lindsay Dengler of Gulfport and her son, William, 1, play with a balloon at the Mississippi Bicentennial South celebration at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport on Saturday, April 1, 2107. Photographer’s comment: As I looked back over my photos from the year, I kept coming back to this one. It’s got a great, fun feel. I love capturing moments like this, pure happiness. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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Ana Marie Ortiz, 22, of Gulfport talks on Sunday, May 14, 2017, about her survival through four bouts of cancer and the effect it has had on her life and her faith in God. Photographer’s comment: There’s something about the combination of light and her expression of resigned acceptance that makes me like this one. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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"Carla" is a dreamer, the child of an illegal immigrant who was brought to the U.S. by a coyote along with her brother when she was 8. Now 23 and unable to become a naturalized citizen, she is worried she will be deported back to Mexico since President Donald Trump rescinded DACA. Photographer’s comment: I had an assignment to illustrate this story without having the subject be identifiable. I came up with two solutions involving the flag; this one worked best. John Fitzhugh
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Thomas Loll, 20, his grandmother, Diane Robinson, 61, and mother, Ester Faye Clay-Arant, 37, of Ocean Springs were all receive college degrees that week. Photographer’s comment: I don’t often shoot portraits that I choreograph, but this was one, and I think it came out just right. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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Jade’lenn Adams, 6, of Gulfport runs away after scaring up a flock of birds on the beach near the Courthouse Road Pier in Gulfport on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. Adams was on the beach with her mom and a friend who was visiting from out of town. Photographer’s comment: We don’t get out to ‘enterprise’ feature photos much any more, so this may be one of the last. The exuberance on this girl’s face is priceless. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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Christian Mink, 7, of Long Beach celebrates scoring a goal during a Mississippi Coast Special Needs Soccer Association game at the Bobby Eleutarius Sports Complex in D’Iberville on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. Photographer’s comment: I’m a big soccer fan, and I enjoy covering special needs events, so it was a natural for me to do this story. Christian was putting in a bunch of goals and every time he would run to his mom for a hug. Better than Ronaldo every day. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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Marine veteran Freddie Johnston of Ocean Springs salutes the casket after the funeral for Michael Eugene ‘Mike’ Webb at the Biloxi National Cemetery on Friday, April 14, 2017. Webb was a homeless Navy veteran who had never used his Veterans Affairs benefits. A group of local people got together to help him get this benefits so he could die in the VA hospice. Photographer’s comment: This story is greater than the photograph. The people who reached out to Webb to make his final days peaceful, and Webb’s desire to pay back those who had helped him makes this story special. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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Jamie Lee of Saucier, with her daughter, Alana, 2, and twin 9-month-olds, Hunter and Hailey, is struggling to get Veterans Affairs benefits after her husband, Hank Lee, a Marine veteran, died in March. The cause of death of Hank Lee, who was being treated for post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, is still unknown. Photographer’s comment: Many things in life are not fair, and things happen that shouldn’t. This is one of those stories, and the look on the mother’s face, surrounded by her young children, captures her sad situation. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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Anita Segovia, a longtime family friend gives Sophia Myers a kiss during a visit at her home in St. Martin on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Myers was suffering from DIPG, a rare and fatal brain tumor. Myers died in October. Photographer’s comment: I spent several weeks off and on with the Myers family as they watched their child die. It was the most heartbreaking story I have ever covered in my 30-plus years as a photojournalist. This tender kiss from a friend summed up the love and support the community gave the family as they endured this tragedy. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com
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Olina Nelson of Biloxi leads David McClelland to the basket to take a shot during the City of Biloxi’s special needs basketball program at the Donal Snyder Community Center in Biloxi on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Photographer’s comment: Nelson, herself mother to special needs children, pours herself into this program. She gives the participants love and patience and they give her love in return. John Fitzhugh jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Tim Isbell

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Despite the weather, Shirley Paxson took time to visit the grave of her husband, Frederick Paxson, for Memorial Day at Biloxi National Cemetery. Photographer’s comment: This photo is from that photographer’s adage of go early, stay late. The good photos usually do not happen at the assigned time. I have always tried to get to an assignment such as this early and stay after the assigned event. This photo is about 20-40 minutes after the commemoration of Memorial Day. I think a solitary moment can say more than most speeches. Tim Isbell ttisbell@sunherald.com
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Streaks of lightning illuminate the morning sky in Gulfport. Photographer’s comment: I enjoy going out before the sun rises to get pictures while most people are still sleeping. On this night, I saw the lightning flashes through my bedroom window. I got up and got a location near the overpass at the Veterans Home. Street lights gave a yellow cast and I popped a little flash to even out the light in the foreground. I under exposed the background so the lightning would not over power the photo. This was a 20 second exposure at f22. Of the 25 photos I shot, only four had decent streaks of lightning. Of course, you only need one. Tim Isbell TTIsbell@sunherald.com
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Matthew Felder takes his son, Moore Felder, to see World War II-era planes in Gulfport. The planes on display include two P51 Mustangs, a B-17 Flying Fortress, a B-24 Liberator and a B-25 Mitchell. Photographer’s comment: I thought this was a nice father, son moment that was captured. I usually like to get the image before asking for names. When people realize a camera is around, they usually aren’t as natural and spontaneous. I like to be that “fly on the wall” and capture a found moment such as this. Tim Isbell ttisbell@sunherald.com
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James Garnett of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd steals a glimpse at the eastern sky, looking for the sun prior to Easter Sunrise Service. Photographer’s comment: This photo has a pit of fire, dramatic sky and a rising sun to go along with the Easter Sunrise service. I wanted to get all these elements in the image. Since I had arrived early, I was able to get this image before the actual service started. Tim Isbell ttisbell@sunherald.com
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The National Weather Service says there's an 80 percent chance that Invest 90L will develop into a tropical system over the Memorial Day Weekend. It is expected to bring lots of rain to the Gulf Coast and Biloxi and Gulfport. Tim Isbell Sun Herald file

Justin Mitchell

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Josh and Angel Myers, along with their families, secondline to the gravesite of the Myers’ daughter, Sophia, who died Oct. 20 after battling a rare brain tumor called DIPG. Sophia’s casket was pink and bedazzled by family and friends. Photographer’s comment: This photo from Sophia Myers’ burial was hard for me to take. A family is trying to celebrate a young child’s life with a secondline to her mausoleum, but the grief still stings, and you can see on their faces. Justin Mitchell jmitchell@sunherald.com
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Josh Myers, front right, helps place his daughter’s casket into a horse-drawn carriage during a funeral procession. Sophia Myers, 7, died after battling DIPG. Her funeral took place in October 2017. Photographer’s comment: I had the opportunity to work on a DIPG series with Margaret Baker, Amanda McCoy and John Fitzhugh. I quickly learned about the love Josh Myers had for his daughter. The moment where he put Sophia’s casket into a horse-drawn carriage as people held each other and wept was one of the most beautiful and emotional things I’ve ever photographed. Justin Mitchell jmitchell@sunherald.com