“I prepare all my equipment ahead of time. And then, I work my ass off.”
You are shooting the Super Bowl this year, how do you approach such a massive and demanding assignment?
My approach to this year’s Super Bowl is really no different than to any other game. I study up on both teams and get familiar with my assigned position on the field. I prepare all my equipment ahead of time. I’ll have 3 Canon 1DX bodies with several different lenses: a 400mm, 600mm, 70-200mm, 24-70mm and a fish eye. And then, I work my ass off. The Super Bowl will be the 27th football game I’ve covered this season, so once the show begins I’ll be comfortable and in the zone.
Is there any added pressure for the Super Bowl because it’s being played in your town?
Of course there is some added pressure. The biggest game of the year is being played in my home stadium and I want everything to be perfect. This means I need to be proactive in helping out the rest of the Getty Images team and be ready for anything that might come my way.
You were an editor at Getty Images for more than seven years before becoming a staff photographer. How did that experience help you become a better photographer?
I was hired in 2001 to work as an editor in the Getty Images NBA department. Truthfully, I knew very little about the company but I was instantly welcomed into this amazing family. That was my first step through the door into this industry. For years, I edited incredible photos from the best sports photographers in the world. I was able to see how they prepared, shot and worked post at hundreds of events. This experience was priceless and steadily shaped me into a totally different photographer. And, like all my colleagues, I continue to try and get better every single day.
What inspired you to become a photographer? Are there photographers you particularly admire?
I never really had a specific inspiration to become a photographer. There were many great teachers and books along the way, but it just became something I was learning on my own. Most of my inspiration came from working with many of the longtime Getty Images staffers. Their work captivates and inspires millions.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I always was a fan of Michael Zagaris. “Z Man” has been covering the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Athletics and doing iconic concert photography since 1971. After all these years his passion has never swayed and to this day he still works as hard as he did on day one. I will forever admire Michael for his tenacity and creativity.
Is there one of your images that you are particularly proud of?
I think the image I am most proud of is a celebration picture I got of LeBron James and Kevin Durant after Team USA won the gold medal in the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Leading up to the final game, I had already covered over 70 basketball games and this was a celebration of not only the USA winning but also the completion of a massive assignment. It was some of the most difficult work I’ve ever been a part of but ultimately the most rewarding.
What photo hangs on your walls?
In my office, I have a few sports-themed photos, including a signed portrait of hockey’s Joe Thornton and me. He won the Hart Trophy for the top point getter in the NHL and Harry How and I were there to cover the ceremony. I couldn’t resist getting a photo alongside the great “Jumbo” Joe.
I’ve heard you’re a die-hard fan of the San Jose Sharks and Oakland A’s. Is it hard to avoid being a “homer” when shooting one of their games?
I used to have a much larger list of teams that I loved. Working in sports media has definitely squeezed that list down. I will always be a diehard fan of the San Jose Sharks and the Oakland Athletics but my job needs me to be other. When I cover an assignment, I need to do so without prejudice or favoritism. Sadly, I only wear my “fan hat” when I’m home watching on TV.
What event is on the top of your bucket list to shoot?
If I were to pick one assignment it would be to cover Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals from ice level. NHL playoff hockey has a level of excitement that rarely can be matched. The action and emotion is ferocious and beautiful all at the same time. And when the smoke clears one team gets to lift the most prized trophy in all of sports.
Any advice you’ve gotten along the way that continues to stick with you?
My colleague Jamie Squire has always reminded me to have fun. These events are all so great and it’s easy to forget how amazing they are when you are staring down a lens the whole time. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and remind yourself how fortunate we are to do what we love.