GUYTON — Birk Herrath is in the middle of most everything that happens at South Effingham High School.
The septuagenarian shutterbug is a fixture at athletic events, club meetings, commencement ceremonies and more, creating as many memories as he captures along the way.
Herrath isn’t a quiet, casual observer of the students and events he shoots with his many cameras. Everyone is always keenly aware of his presence.
“Birk has a love for people, as well as photography, and you see it in his interactions with everybody,” said Jeff Faith, assistant principal and athletic director at South Effingham.
Herrath, 71, has a way of commanding any room — or dugout — he enters. He hurls humorous barbs in every direction.
“He’s so funny,” sophomore softball player Caraline Stone said. “He’s goofy and he likes to be around us, and we like to be around him.”
Herrath isn’t considered disruptive even though he frequently gives photography lessons to players while their games are in progress.
“Great guy,” South Effingham softball coach Chuck Smith said. “He lets the players have fun and that’s really what it’s all about.”
Stone wielded Herrath’s camera during a Region 2-AAAAA tournament doubleheader against Wayne County on Sept. 26.
“I have a camera and I like playing around with it,” Stone said. “I could possibly take up photography as a hobby. He’s a good teacher, for sure.”
Senior softball player ReAnn McCloy appreciates Herrath’s photography talent and his constant school presence. She has known him since she was on the South Effingham Middle School cross country team.
“He’s been here every game ever since,” McCloy said. “I love going on Facebook and finding his pictures. I say, ‘These are so good! These are like professional!’ ”
Herrath, a Massachusetts native and former Lifetouch employee, snaps every photo for South Effingham’s high-quality yearbook. He also does considerable freelance work.
“Most of our booster clubs and ours sports teams call him for individual pictures,” Faith said. “The band does, too. It’s remarkable.”
Faith said he has known Herrath for at least 15 years, adding that even he has benefitted from Herrath’s camera knowledge.
“He has helped my father-in-law and my son,” Faith said.
Herrath is generous with his wisdom.
“As much as people invest in him, he invests in them tenfold,” Faith said.
See the Oct. 3 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.