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the Permian Panthers he took thirty years ago for the iconic Friday Night Lights, with a selection of his previously unpublished photos plus portraits of the players and the community as they are today.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