Years ago, Paige Sweany was a young mother who had to scrape up hundreds of dollars to have professional photos of her first daughter taken.
After reflecting on those experiences, she would make it her mission to provide local families with affordable options to capture timeless memories — by becoming a professional photographer herself.
Sweany began her photography career by focusing on new mothers and their babies, which helped her set a baseline for her prices going forward.
“It’s not about the money,” Sweany said. “I never wanted anybody not to have pictures because they couldn’t afford them.”(Article coninues below)
She would later translate her mission to another subject entirely in 2010, when she became the chief photographer for the Dawson County High School football team.
After 13 seasons of countless games, practices and treasured moments, Sweany stepped down from that role and is passing the torch to a new group of photographers.
Over the years, the many young players who showed their excitement and appreciation for her work served as her motivation.
“It’s really the kids who made me stay,” Sweany said. “It means the world to me that the kids acknowledge, recognize and appreciate me.”
Though Sweany’s most recognized photographs are of the varsity team on Friday nights, her work has spanned a large swath of ages from the youth levels up.
While she watched her younger daughter go through her academic career, Sweany has witnessed the growth of many Dawson football players from their youngest days to graduation.
For her, serving the community — especially players whose parents may not always be in attendance — has given her a sense of great fulfillment.
“We have some really cool kids in the community,” Sweany said. “Seeing them succeed, grow, score their first touchdown — it’s just cool to be there in that moment.”
Sweany also built a strong working relationship with the football staff over the years, helping capture moments that went beyond the action on the field — most notably those involving the late coach George Moser during the 2021 season.
Though Sweany originally meant to step down after her daughter’s graduation in 2022, her friend and DCHS Director of Football Terry Haymond helped convince Sweany to stay on this past season.
“I have the utmost respect for coach Maxwell and his staff,” Sweany said. “I think the world of him and I love our boys.”
During her years with the football team, Sweany also became recognized throughout the community for her Sole Photography studio, which works with families and businesses all around Dawson County.
Two years into her time with DCHS football, Sweany decided to take the full leap into photography as her occupation and left her longtime job at Sawnee EMC.
While her days on the football field may be over, she is more than eager to continue her work with the people of Dawson County.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Sweany said. “It’s cool to be a part of so many different parts of the community. I’m honored to be a part of so many peoples’ lives.”