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The partnership in pictures:
Bert Myer focuses his camera
and his thoughts on the Club Teams

words and photographs by Bert Myer
posted March 29, 2016

A personal album of photo favorites
Annual photo contests of years past

Bert Myer's early elimination from the 2016 USCA Club Teams event at the National Croquet Center was a minor tragedy for him and his partner, but a great stroke of luck for us, because he had brought his digital camera and was recruitable (just barely) for this story: a photographic essay on partnerships illustrating many forms and styles of interpersonal communication. We see ourselves in many of these photos, and whether it's Association Croquet or American Rules, the same agony and/or ecstasy emerges from the weird mix of thought and action that makes our slow-motion sport unique--and uniquely amenable to recording photographically all the varieties of communication between partners on the court and on the sidelines.

Good croquet partnerships are a lot like marriages. Some work, some don't. Some prosper, some cruise along in peaceful detente, some can scarcely be tolerated, and some end badly. The most successful partnerships thrive, function smoothly, and win. Often the combination is better than the individual parts.

All of these images were shot with a Sony SLT-A77 digital camera using a Sony 18-135mm auto-focus zoom lens. The camera allows recording APS-C sized, 24 megapixel resolution images at up to 12-frames-second, so I was able to take multiple images during many of the crucial deliberations shown. All of the images were processed as RAW files in Adobe Photoshop and have been cropped for emphasis and/or to eliminate superfluous elements. They were mostly shot from the veranda of the NCC or from the courtside shelters, and at some distance from the players to avoid distractions. - Bert Myer

Successful partnerships achieve a delicate balance of power and, like marriage, involve compromise, deference, loyalty, respect, sacrifice, endurance, and the ability to suffer silently. They require an honest and objective assessment of individual strengths and weaknesses--and the capacity to deal equitably with the inevitable shortcomings and inequalities. Good partnerships inspire weaker players to improve, and instill the confidence needed to play better.

Bad or less-than-perfect partnerships often devolve in annoyance, distrust, despair, even rancor. Some can accept a vow ďfor better or worse.Ē For too many, however "the worst," when it actually happens, is close to unendurable.

In the end, itís all about achieving the common good. Some welcome the responsibility and burdens of partnership croquet, but some canít, or wonít. Doubles requires collaboration and negotiation, clearly visible from the sidelines, and able to be recorded by the photographer. One can almost imagine the conversation going along with all those gestures and expressions:

Is this the time we should seize the initiative?
Or do we wait for them to attack, to breakdown, to hide?

Are you comfortable with this play?
This shot? This strategy?

Do you want guidance? Advice?
Or would you rather be left alone to obey your muse?

Shall we discuss this more?
Or not?

What do you want to do?
What do you want ME to do?

Have we looked at all the options?
Whatís the right play here?

Do you understand?
Do you agree?

Can we do this?
At this point in the game, can we afford NOT to do it?

If you do this...

Let me suggest...

Do it this way...

Things donít look so good...

But we may be okay...

Maybe not....

Bert Myer has been photographing croquet scenes since joining the USCA in the early 1980s. His images have been featured in countless USCA publications including the USCA Croquet Annuals (1992-1995), US Croquet Bulletins and newsletters, and Croquet World Online Magazine, as well national and international consumer magazines. For many years, he was the editor of various USCA publications and has held several volunteer positions in the USCA. He has continued to contribute articles, letters, and opinion pieces based on his croquet experiences throughout the US and abroad. He lives in Stratham, NH, and appears at tournaments from time to time.

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