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Friday Night Lives

Friday Night Lives
Photos from the Town, the Team, and After

Robert Clark returns to the photographs of the Permian Panthers he took thirty years ago for the iconic Friday Night Lights, with a selection of his previously unpublished photos plus portraits of the players and the community as they are today.

Series: Clifton and Shirley Caldwell Texas Heritage Endowment

November 2020
Not yet published

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This book will be available in October 2020.
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192 pages | 8.5 x 11 | 91 b&w photos |

In 1988, when Robert Clark was in his early twenties, he traveled to Odessa, Texas, to create a visual element for a book about a high school football team. That book was Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights—the chronicle of a season with the Permian Panthers, one of the state’s winningest teams of all time.

About twenty photos appeared in Bissinger’s book, but Clark shot 137 rolls of film during his time with the Panthers. Friday Night Lives collects dozens of the never-before-seen images, taking us back to the team, the city, and that dramatic season. The archival photos, published here on the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Bissinger's bestseller, capture intimate moments among the players and their families and classmates, as well as the wider world of Odessa.

Now the players have grown up. Friday Night Lives also includes Clark’s portraits of key Panthers figures at a later age, documenting complex lives of beauty and struggle. Boobie Miles, the star fullback sidelined by injury, is here, along with Coach Gaines and others. In his heartfelt foreword, best-selling author Hanif Abdurraqib describes how Clark's photos rehumanize the players, reminding us of the truth of their young lives before their stories became nationally known in print, film, and television.

  • Foreword by Hanif Abdurraqib
  • First Half
  • Second Half
    • #20 Mike Winchell
    • #35 Boobie Miles
    • #85 Brian Chavez
    • #62 Ivory Christian
    • #76 Jerrod McDougal
    • #26 Don Billingsley
    • Coach Gaines
  • Afterword by Robert Clark
  • Captions

Robert Clark is a longtime contract photographer for National Geographic and the photographer for the original edition of Friday Night Lights. He has published several books, First Down Houston: The Birth of an NFL Franchise, Evolution: A Visual Record, Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage, and Image America, which featured an American road trip and was the first book of photos shot solely with a cellphone camera. Clark lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter.


“[An] outstanding portfolio…a book that belongs in every football fan's collection.”
Kirkus, Starred Review

“[An] impressive illustrated volume…This is a fitting coda for fans of the book and show, and anyone with an interest in the rural America of a bygone era will want to take a look.”
Publishers Weekly