“Wow, you get to photograph school board meeting, debates, and forums!!”

That’s something no one has ever asked me.

No, the first question, when I tell people I am a newspaper photographer, is always: “So you do sports?”

This past week the Sixers advanced to the next round in the NBA playoffs, the Flyers finished their season, the Phillies completed a four-game sweep of the Rockies, Eagles fans watched the first round of the NFL Draft on the grass of Lincoln Financial Field, the 126th running of the Penn Relays was underway, and yesterday, the country’s largest 10-miler - the 42nd Broad Street Run - returned to Philadelphia.

Instead of photographing any of that action, I covered two political debates, candidates speaking at an American Legion post and a Poconos fishing lodge, and a couple observances of historic anniversaries.

And I loved it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In my earlier years I probably covered 50 MLB home games every summer in Dallas, Minneapolis, Detroit and Kansas City (all American League ball parks, until I came to The Inquirer). I did a Super Bowl, Final Four and a couple World Series. But at the same time I covered a few presidential campaigns, national conventions and the Iowa Caucuses/New Hampshire Primaries.

I started to really enjoy the challenge of trying to make different and interesting photos in situations that often look all the same, and even felt I was helping to make the American democratic process more appealing to our readers. Maybe my pictures could draw readers into more stories, and lead to more informed electorate. Much the same way as a sports photographer I strived to get the perfect peak of action to tell the story of the game.

Since 1998, a black-and-white photo has appeared every Monday in staff photographer Tom Gralish’s “Scene Through the Lens” photo column in The Inquirer’s local news section. Here are the most recent, in color:

» SEE MORE: Archived columns and Twenty years of a photo column