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Tears and Sweat

September Dawn Bottoms captures a clash of emotions at the American school bands’ Grand National Championship.

Over one hundred bands from all over the United States meet in Indianapolis to compete in the Grand National Championship. As a whirlwind of feathers, tutus, trumpets, drums and uniforms parade in the stadium, photographer September Dawn Bottoms goes beyond the grandeur of the performance to capture the unfiltered emotions of youth.

The soft black and white of her images turns off the array of bright, glamorous colors to focus on the look in the teenagers’ eyes and their tension, hopes and pain. “‘Kids don't look like kids here”, she says. “They look militant, serious, and passionate.They're all dressed to the nines, every hair in place. All of the final twelve bands load into the stands and from the field they announce the winning teams. Their hard work has paid off. They are the best of the best.”

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