Our 4th Four + 1, coming to us from Phoenix is Arizona Cardinals team photographer Gene Lower. Gene’s portfolio and very impressive client list can be found here.
1. How did you start shooting sports photography and what is your bread and butter sport?
I was an athlete up through my college years and was lucky enough to have my photo appear many times in local papers. When my career ended, I wanted to still be involved in the sports world and I remembered all the great shots that were captured of me during my career. Indeed, I wanted to do the same. Now, besides many other great athletes, I have been able to document Larry Fitzgerald’s entire professional career. My bread and butter sport is definitely football. I am the team photographer for the Arizona Cardinals covering all of their home and away games. I also serve at the lead photographer for the Fiesta Bowl Committee – covering both the Insight Bowl and Fiesta Bowl – and every four years the BCS National Championship Game.
2. What is something that you think is really obvious now that took you a long time to get?
The most obvious thing to me now is the simple fact that it is one thing to be able to capture a great photo – it is another to be able to market and sell it. Patience is definitely a virtue in this media world. Just because an image is not relevant now doesn’t mean it will not be in the future. My most famous photo, the iconic shot of Pat Tillman, for years remained in my personal collection without any views from the public. Now as a Sports Illustrated famous cover, it is the most known image of him, a huge honor!
3.Funniest / Strangest story from one of your shoots?
Not one particular moment stands out for me – there have been many. But I always get a laugh when the players want to take control of my camera. The 400 2.8 looks big in my arms, but it looks like a point and shoot with some players, in particular the defensive line. On quite a few occasions I have been forced into becoming the model.
4. Advice to the kids (or a mid life crisis sufferer) who are aspiring to become a sports photographer?
Although it has been said many times – I must re-emphasize – KEEP SHOOTING! With every opportunity try something new and create a style unique to you. Shoot at different focal lengths and different angles -look for fresh ideas. I also feel it is very important to archive your work. As I mentioned earlier, you never know when an image may become relevant. In this fast paced media world, if you lose time searching for an image, your opportunity may be lost.
+1 As a team photographer, what is the difference in your job between when the team is winning vs when it is losing?
There is definitely a difference on how I cover the Cardinals dependent on the play on the field. After a loss I try and back off – capturing the moment from a distance – giving the players their space. Wins are great; I usually go inside the bench area during the last two minutes and find the players celebrating. With a big win I cover the postgame locker room speech. Needless to say, I have documented and been a part of many special moments with the organization – particularly our run to the Super Bowl a few years back.
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