I grew up playing sports and, from the posters in my childhood bedroom to countless team photos to the work I did covering boxing, sports photography has always been a part of my life. On the B&H Photography Podcast, when we can speak about the subject, it’s joyous and easy, like I’ve reverted to a native language. Over the years, we have been fortunate to welcome a handful of sports photography legends, we have discussed sports portraiture, tennis photography, surf and skate photography, and approached the subject from the technological and the historical side. For B&H Sports Photography Week, I’ve listed a few of my favorite episodes.
Photograph © Tim Clayton
Shooting Hoops: Basketball Photography with NBA’s Best
On this episode, we welcomed two of professional basketball’s best photographers. Nat Butler is Senior Photographer for NBA Entertainment and has worked the last thirty-four NBA Finals. He is also the official NBA photographer for the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Andrew Bernstein is the longest-tenured NBA photographer, the photographer for the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers, an inductee to the NBA Hall of Fame, and host of the Legends of Sport Podcast. These two guys are also old friends and the conversation—full of practical tips and great stories—is as smooth as a Steph Curry jumper.
Walter Iooss Jr.: Photographer for Life
There’s not much else need be said after you’ve mentioned his name. Walter Iooss Jr. is the prototype and now, the elder statesman of all sports photographers. His work at Sports Illustrated and with Michael Jordan is legendary, and that only scratches the surface. He began working in the 1960s as a teenager and is still at it today. We wanted this conversation to go on forever, there are just that many great photos.
Dynamic Portrait Lighting, with Alexis Cuarezma
Although the title of this episode might not hint at a connection to sports, be sure that our guest, Alexis Cuarezma, knows his way around a gymnasium and a boxing ring. He is a California-based advertising, sports, dance, and fashion photographer who packs a considerable amount of practical and creative insight into our hour-long conversation. He has shot for Sports Illustrated (including six covers), Fortune, Ring, and the New York Times, and his commercial clients include Nike. He offers us a deep dive into his lighting schemes and is generous with his thoughts on production, composition, models, gear, self-promotion, and marketing.
Tennis Photography and the 2018 U.S. Open
This wonderful episode feels like it was recorded a lifetime ago, but a lot has happened in three years. Could we still make a trip with our microphones to the National Tennis Center on a beautiful summer evening to interview the photography team during the U.S. Open? I sure hope so, because not only was the team at Drawbridge Digital welcoming, they gave us a window to see how they manage the voluminous and complicated photography demands of this Grand Slam tennis event. We also spoke with photographer Chris Nicholson about opportunities available for freelancers and even amateurs to shoot tennis matches and high-profile players. We discuss techniques, settings, and gear that will make your job easier and your photos better.
Technological Evolution in Sports Photography
It’s hard to pick just five sports episodes, so like some good athletes, I will cheat a little and mention our episode with surf photographer Ray Collins and an episode with author Gail Buckland on the history of sports photography, but the official last episode on this list goes to our conversation with photojournalist Nick Didlick. Didlick is a two-time Pulitzer nominee, has photographed countless international games, and was even the Photo Chief for the 2010 games in Vancouver. He knows his way around a camera and around the communications systems needed to deliver and publish the images created. We talk about the evolution of these technologies, from autofocus and tele-extenders to wireless communication and how they have enabled better sports photography.
What's your favorite B&H Photography Podcast sports episode? Chat with us about it in the Comments, below. And for more sports-related news, tips, and reviews, be sure to check out the Sports Photography section of B&H Explora.