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Pro Sports Photography

2010 NFC Wildcard game

NFL: NFC Wild Card-New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

Sports Action photography is the most challenging and labor-intensive of all genres. On average, I captured somewhere in the neighborhood of 900-1400 photos per game when I was working for USAToday. Time is everything in Sports Action Photography. You might have the best angle and sharpest image, but if the photographer next to you sent their photo up the wire before yours, let's say it's now nothing more than a photo to add to your portfolio.

The game is over. My work is just starting

Using my average number of photos(900-1400) per sporting event takes around an hour to upload to my Mac. From there, I begin the culling process. the culling process can take hours, depending on the sport. At this point, all I care about is if the photo is in focus. I've culled through my photos and have approximately 100-200 keepers. Next, I go back and straighten/crop the keepers. The next step in the process is captioning the images for the various media outlets. Once I complete captioning, I upload all my photos to the server(essentially the cloud). From there, media outlets from across the globe can access the extensive database of images to use. Many professional sports photographers go weeks without any of their work being published. It's just the way the business works. 

Sports action photography today

Often I get asked how covering high school sports differs from the NFL or any other professional sports I've covered. My answer is simple. I do it for the kids and the love of the game. I don't have any deadlines to meet. I have athletes and parents alike who love what I do and the value it brings to the program. When my work gets published, it's mostly on various social platforms. Occasionally the local paper. The days of searching Google to see what was published from the night before are long gone. Today it's all about kids in sports.

Peter Who?

Back in early 2005 or so, I wondered if only I could photograph a college-level game, or even pro sports, editors across the country would discover me, and I would make it big time. The truth is, my photos were the same. The venues were unique, the uniforms were vibrant, and the crowds were electric! But my work was the same. I knew I wanted to improve, so I invested in my craft and attended a week-long workshop with Peter Read Miller. Peter Read Miller is a world-renowned sports photographer. Peter has more Sports Illustrated cover photos than any other photographer! The workshop was terrific and prepared me to compete at a higher level.  I sent my work portfolio to Brad Mangin shortly after attending the workshop. At the time, Brad was the photographer for the San Fransisco Giants and hosted a website for professional and aspiring sports photographers to share their work and gain helpful insight from the biggest names in the business. At the time, I was confident about my portfolio. I remember thinking my phone would be ringing off the hook right after I hit the send button. Well, my phone didn't ring. Instead, I received an email from Brad. It was short and to the point. "stick with t-ball". - Brad
I remember thinking he was such a jerk, and how could he say something so rude? A few days later, my pity party ended, and it got real! I had a yellow sticky in my office right above my computer with one word. "BRAD" His terse reply fueled me more than anything else. I was determined to show the Giant's photographer I was good enough. I wanted to prove him wrong! Tell me I can't, and I will. Tell me I'm not good enough, and I will get better. Looking back, Brad was right! My work was crap.

If you could, Would you?

Would I change anything? Not a chance. My growth, personally and professionally, plays a large part in who I am and what I photograph today.

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