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Sports Photography

December 10th, 2015

Behind the Lens With Matt Brown

Posted by liveBooks

Angels Team Photographer and liveBooks Ambassador Matt Brown takes us behind the lens to describe the technical aspects and innovative considerations that went into the creation of the top 10 photos he captures during the 2015 season.

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 50 mm F/1.4 shutter speed 1/8000

“I always wanted to make a photo of Mike [Trout] taking the field smiling. It shows just how much he loves the game. Shooting it at F/1.4 adds to images and brings the focus more to Mike.” 8/2/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 600mm F/4 shutter speed 1/2000

“I loved that Albert took over the situation and stood up for Mike after the brush up with Kansas City.” 4/12/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 16mm F/4 shutter speed 1/250

“The Angels visit CHOC Children’s Hospital during the season. During this particular visit, Mike jumped into the red wagon. At times Mike forgets his size and that he’s not a little boy anymore.” 8/20/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4 16mm F/3.5 shutter speed 1/800

“I love the fact that Collin Cowgill  never moved or looked at me as teammate Erick Aybar cleans his game glasses on his jersey. Being able to shoot from the dugout before the game brings a whole new level of access to the players.” 4/12/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 600mm F/4 shutter speed 1/2000

“No player likes being called out on strike three. So when it happened to David Freese I captured this nice moment when he talked to the umpire about it. I like the way he’s holding his bat and being calm during the conversation.” 4/25/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4 35mm F/4.5 shutter speed 1/640

“During batting practice, Albert hits in the group that takes the cages during the visitors’ warmup. So when he and Miguel Cabrera started talking about hitting I knew I wanted to capture the two of them together. Two of the best players to play baseball is always a good catch.” 5/28/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 400mm F/4 shutter speed 1/2000

“I love the loneliness of this photo. Clean walls and dark shadows. I know everyone has seen the shot of Mike climbing the wall to make the catch against Seattle. It’s great, but I like this type of image more because it won the game for us in Oakland. It’s all Mike, no ads, no TV cameras in the background. Just Mike doing what he does best.” 4/30/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 240mm F/4 shutter speed 1/400

“The veteran David Freese shares a cute moment with rookie Taylor Featherston before taking the field. Being the rookie can be tough on a baseball team.” 5/27/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 24mm F/5.6 shutter speed 1/800

“Angels bench coach Dino Ebel is always getting picked on by Albert and Erick. It happens more on the road. I captured poor Dino being swung in the air during batting practice in Oakland.” 4/28/15

Matt Brown

Camera Information: Nikon D4s 70mm F/2.8 shutter speed 1/2500

“Over the last couple of years, the players have become very good at nailing their teammates during post-game interviews. In this photo, Hector Santiago sneaked up on Kole Calhoun and blasted him with a head shot of Bodyarmor. I love the spray and form created in the image.” 7/28/15

To read the original article, go here.

Guest post by liveBooks client Blair Bunting. Original post found here.

There are deadlines and then there are deadlines…this is the latter.

ASU’s advertising campaign is one that I have now shot for 10 years. It is one that I always use to push logistical boundaries that I had previously been inflexible towards, for the sake of art and knowledge. Photographing it is a practice in embracing the unknown and evaluating previously conceived notions of what is possible and what is not.

This year’s photoshoot existed well within the impossible…

Blair Bunting

For example, I usually shoot the ASU campaign the last week of May and deliver the images on deadline…August 1st. This way the designers at ASU can create layouts and posters, billboards and ticket stubs and all that’s in between in the two weeks before press deadline (August 14th).

However, this year was different, for ASU was in the midst of changing from Nike uniforms to Adidas. We knew going into April that this shoot could be a bit tighter on the deadline than usual. As May began, I already had laid out the images for the campaign and had my crew on stand-by on a moments notice if we needed to be at the studio. However, the new uniforms were not ready and so we found ourselves waiting…and then came June…and then went June.

Blair Bunting

It was looking like an impossible deadline at this point, for where I normally have 60 days for production, I would now have half.


There comes a moment, at which one must release true control of a situation, and this was it. Any ideas that I had of a production schedule had to be let go. In a sense, if this campaign happened at all, it would be a very visceral knowledge of the process that would take over and one that only experience could teach.

August 1st: The deadline of the many campaigns of year’s past had arrived and passed. For me, it was a simple glass of scotch that evening and a comfort that only a purchase of a time machine (found on eBay) would make this one possible.

August 15th: The call saying that we would shoot in three days (yeah, August 18th), and we might be limited on jerseys for the guys to wear (oh the understatement). However, if there is one thing that I have learned about ASU, it is that their athletes are incredible and even the toughest challenges are easier with how much they help me out on set.

Blair Bunting

August 18th: The first day of the shoot had arrived and the crew that had been on standby for most of the summer for this one were ready. Even though we were months behind schedule, everyone was happy; for we knew what we had to do and knew that it could be a good time as well.

As the guys showed up to the studio, the wardrobe arrived as well. We had 10 athletes to photograph and one, yes ONE, pair of pants. Now we had that one pair in maroon and black, so technically that’s two. However, you may say, “Blair I thought ASU wears gold pants on occasion” and you would be correct.

Worry not, we had a pair of gold pants as well, with one minor caveat. You see, the only pair of Adidas football pants that existed in gold belonged to the ASU mascot, Sparky. For those of you who don’t know him, he is a devil that runs around the field and does push ups. The big issue is that Sparky has a tail. Some of you have figured out where this is going, and yes, the only pair of gold pants we had had a hole in the butt for his tail.

Blair Bunting

Remember, photoshoots will always make you stronger and more resourceful for the next one.

So we shot for two days on set and had the final images being delivered even when we showed up for day two. The reason it all happened is quite simple: incredible people. From crew to client to talent to retouching, everyone involved on this project didn’t worry about deadline, they just worried about doing their best and staying positive.

As much as being an advertising photographer is about being in control of a production, the true talent of one is measured when control is given up.

Do not miss the behind-the-scenes video, found here!


Guest Blog Post By Chris Humphreys

In late 2010, an old high school friend contacted me asking if I’d be interested in shooting sports. He worked for USA Today Sports Images and they were in need of more shooters out in Denver. Up to that point, my business had been focused almost exclusively on weddings and I had virtually no experience shooting sports. However, the idea of trying something different appealed to me, so I made the leap by purchasing a Canon 400mm f2.8 and bravely entered a whole new world.

To say the experience of going out to shoot sports is different than shooting weddings is, well, quite the understatement. In both activities you attach lenses to cameras, you dial up exposures, look through your viewfinder, and hit your shutter to take pictures. And while there’s also the pressure to perform, knowing that you don’t get a second chance if you miss a critical  moment, that’s about where the similarities end. Whereas at weddings you are constantly interacting with the bride and groom, family, wedding party, and guests, at a professional sporting event interacting with a player is likely to get your credentials revoked. I’m always amused when folks ask me if I “know” Peyton Manning once they find out I photograph Broncos games from the sidelines. (The answer to that question is a resounding “No.”)

Further, at weddings you of course want to dress up nicely, in order to look professional and blend in with the crowd. On the other hand, with sports, it’s safe to say that I’ve never exactly worn a suit and tie to a game. In fact, I have an old tattered ripped up pair of jeans I refer to as my “football jeans.” I only wear them for football since I end up kneeling in the grass on the sidelines at a lot of Broncos and college football games and I would never want to subject a good pair of jeans to the punishment those take over the course of a season.

Despite all the differences between weddings and sports, I wholeheartedly profess that shooting sports has made me a better wedding photographer. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned (or become much better at) since shooting sports.


Without a doubt, this is probably the biggest lesson you must learn when you start heading out to professional sporting events. If you only expect yourself to be able to react to what is happening instead of anticipating it happening ahead of time, you will almost always be a step behind the action. Professional sports simply move too fast to expect yourself to react to what’s happening. You have to be constantly thinking ahead to what is most likely going to happen and where you need to be, before the play even begins. For instance, if I’m shooting baseball and there are runners on bases, I don’t usually follow the ball once it’s hit. I move my lens to where the final play is going to be. The speed of the game is simply too fast to try and follow with your lens.

Chris Humphreys

With football, if it’s 3rd down and 20 yards to go, I’m thinking like a defensive coordinator and am probably going to follow the best wide receiver on the field with my lens because I know there’s a very good chance the ball is going to him. If I try to keep my lens trained on the ball from the time the quarterback has it to the time the wide receiver catches it, I will miss the play 95 times out of 100.

Chris Humphreys 2

It’s amazing just how many times I’ve applied this lesson to weddings. When I’m photographing toasts at a reception and I’m listening to a funny story the father of the bride is telling to the crowd, I begin to anticipate at what point in the story everyone is about to laugh. And when that happens I’m already focused on the couple’s faces to capture that moment.

Chris Humphreys

Or when the bride is walking down the aisle and I quickly move my camera to capture the groom’s reaction to seeing his bride for the first time, I’m also out of the corner of my eye looking to see if the mother of the groom is reacting to her son because there’s a very good chance the groom’s mom is probably more focused on her own son at that moment than the bride walking down the aisle. Who knows, if you’re lucky maybe the mom even gets out of her seat to give her son a hug as he tries to control his emotions.

Chris Humphreys 4

These aren’t hard things to do, but they take practice, and more than anything they require a photographer to always be aware of what’s going on around him/her and thinking several steps ahead.

Stop Complaining About the Rules

I’ll admit as a wedding photographer I’ve privately rolled my eyes after getting a lecture from the “church lady” who tells me that I can only photograph from behind the last pew, that I can’t use flash, or that I can’t even be at the bottom of the aisle for when the bride comes down the aisle. After all, I want to provide the best photographs I can for my client and these “silly” rules keep me from doing that. If you start photographing sports however, particularly at the professional level, you’ll realize that you’re constantly restrained by rules. Rules about where you can shoot from. Rules about where and when you can move. Rules about what you can do with the images on the internet (and particularly social media). Rules about how some photographers from some agencies can shoot in specific sports, and photographers from other agencies can’t. Each league has it’s rules and beyond that every venue has certain rules as well. Some make total sense, others seem very arbitrary.

For instance, at Coors Field photographers can only walk on the field from one photo well to the other after the top of the 4th inning (photo wells are the on-field position in baseball where photographers shoot from – usually located next to the dugout). Any other time you have to walk up the stairs to the concourse and carefully weave yourself through the throngs of people as you make your way around the stadium, and then proceed to walk down the stairs (again dodging more throngs of people) to the photo well on that side. But why is it only after the top of the 4th inning can you make the much easier and quicker transition from one side of the field to the other? Why not after the top of the 5th? Or the bottom of the 7th? What difference could it possibly make? Other MLB baseball stadiums don’t have that restriction on photographers. Why does Coors Field find it necessary to make photographer’s lives harder?

I’ve come to the realization that these are simply dumb questions to ask. The fact is it doesn’t matter. Those are what the rules are and if you want to photograph at that venue you follow the rules. Period. (Breaking rules while photographing sports is never a “better to ask forgiveness than permission” type of situation. Always, always, always ask for permission if you think there’s even a chance you might be breaking a rule at a sporting event at the professional or collegiate level.) If you’re lucky enough to photograph a higher profile event such as an All Star game, a Superbowl, or a Conference Championship game, fully expect even more rules to magically appear. Again, just accept them and learn to live with them.

Most importantly, figure out how to create stellar images working within the rules. Because while you’re focused on complaining about the rules, some other photographer is focused on figuring out how to make great images working within the rules.

Chris Humphreys

Tell the Story of the Day

Maybe this seems obvious, but for those who have been shooting weddings for years and who feel they’ve “seen it all” it’s very easy to get into a rhythm and go on auto pilot and to get the predictable shots you know work well and look good. In doing that though, you may completely miss capturing what the really important images are to the bride and groom because you’re just busy focusing on the poses and the types of images you’re used to getting.

One big misconception is that sports images are just about capturing amazing action shots. Certainly, that’s a part, but it’s not everything, You have to be aware of what happened during the game. Editors at newspapers and sports outlets expect you to know what ongoing story lines are going on with a team and who the most important players are for that game. It’s important to note that doesn’t always mean the star players. It could be the small forward who came in off the bench and managed to get a triple double. Or the right fielder who normally isn’t a star hitter and bats eighth in the lineup, but today had 4 RBIs and scored the game winning run.

Chris Humphreys

Sometimes the story of the day is told in an emotional moment (either happy or sad). Capturing emotions and reactions are a huge part of sports photography and unlike at a wedding where photographers tend not to shoot the rare moment when someone is upset or disappointed (because what kind of bride wants to see images of people looking sad at her wedding), those types of moments tell the story in sports just as well as images communicating victory or triumph.

Chris Humphreys

Chris Humphreys

Sometimes, it’s about going a step further and trying to find that unusual image that tells the story of the day that you think other photographers aren’t capturing. This is particularly important with sports where you want to try to do something to differentiate yourself from the dozens of other photographers capturing the exact same event. Back during the 2013 AFC Conference Championship game, I captured an image of a Broncos cheerleader making snow angels in the confetti after her team’s victory celebration. There were easily over 30 photographers photographing the game, and so coming up with a truly unique image that not many other of the highly talented experienced photographers would have captured that communicated the Broncos winning was difficult, but that’s the job.

Chris Humphreys

At a wedding there aren’t usually 30 other professional photographers that you’re competing with to get great images (hopefully not anyway!) but that should have no less impact on our desire to capture wonderfully unique images that tell the individual story of each couple. At one wedding I was at, the bride’s father had passed away when the bride was quite young and her grandfather was not only like a father figure for her, but clearly one of the people she was closest to in the whole world. Had I simply gotten stunning pictures of the bride and groom, but had failed to get great images of the bride and her grandfather, I would have completely failed at my job that day.

Chris Humphreys

Sometimes the story of the day doesn’t revolve around a person or a specific relationship, but is instead something that goes wrong or unexpected like the weather. No matter what it is, if it has an impact on the day or is something you think the bride and groom will remember when they thing back on their wedding, make sure you have a picture that tells that aspect of the day.

Chris Humphreys

Regardless of whether you ever have the opportunity to shoot sports, the important point is to step out of your comfort zone and try shooting something completely new. You might surprise yourself and discover new lessons for how to better photograph a subject or genre you’ve been covering for years.

Based out of Denver, CO, Chris Humphreys travels across Colorado and the rest of the United States photographing weddings for discerning couples who want their weddings captured in such a way as to be true to who they are.

In addition, when Chris isn’t photographing brides and grooms, he also freelances for USA Today Sports Images. Chris’ images have been featured in Sports Illustrated, USA Today,, The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon among others.

Chris is also a sought after speaker and teacher for other photographers.

Chris H

Interested in learning about sports photography from one of Sports Illustrated’s top photographers? Join Peter Read Miller April 13-19 in Denver, Colorado, and get access to a variety of action packed sports from mountain biking and college football, to high school basketball, and amateur boxing during this weeklong workshop.


In addition to capturing the action on the field, a portion of the workshop will be spent on learning how to shape the light in both studio and on-location, arena lighting with strobes, and the set-up and use of remote cameras.

For maximum learning potential, participants of this workshop have the opportunity for their work to be personally reviewed and critiqued by Peter each day at one of Denver’s top commercial photography studios.


What you will learn:

  • Techniques to capture action
  • How to use lighting and different angles for shooting various sports
  • The power of cropping & editing images to make them magazine cover-worthy
  • How to choose the best lenses for sports photography

What’s Included:

  • Canon and Dynalite gear loans
  • 6 days of instruction
  • Access to sporting events
  • Location & model fees
  • One on one portfolio review with Peter

Workshop fee: $1,995

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to turn good images into outstanding ones!

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