Los Angeles is a two team sort of town when it comes to baseball. Having had the pleasure of interviewing Jon SooHoo, the official team photographer for the Dodgers, it felt only right to cover the bases and highlight Los Angeles Angeles baseball photography too.
Matt Brown, the Director of Photography for the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim was kind enough to join Samy’s Camera Photo Blog for an interview to discuss his career in sports photography.
Matt Brown is a true veteran of sports photography. In addition to his Los Angeles Angels baseball photography duties, he has worked frequently with national sports publications such as Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. Along with USA Today’s West Coast Staff Photographer Robert Hanashiro, Matt Brown is also the co-founder of the Sports Shooter Academy . Over the past ten years, the Academy has educated and entertained hundreds students with aspirations to become sports photographers.
Q: Describe your typical camera set up during a Angel’s game. How many are you using and what are they?
A: My setup for home games involves a lot of camera gear. I have three remotes: One next to the Angels dugout, one behind home plate and one very high on the rooftop above home plate. I have three to four cameras on me, 16-35mm, 70-200mm, 200-400mm and 600mm. Games when I am on the road, are a different story. I’ll have maybe one remote and three cameras on me for those.
Q: You’ve shot portraits of any number of athletic greats including Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabber. How much of their on-field/court persona do you try to bring to those portraits?
A: I want to show just who they really are in my portraits. The intensity is something I try to convey. I love doing portraits, its one of the few times you can control everything.
Q: What is the most memorable photo you have taken as as the Los Angeles Angels team photographer?
A: My most memorable photo I’ve taken as the Angels team photographer might be one I took this year. Dean Chance was inducted into the Los Angeles Angels Hall of Fame in August. We had never done portraits of the Hall of Famers in the past and this year I wanted to make time to do so. I made some nice photos of Mr. Chance in his red jacket. Sadly, in October he passed away and I felt lucky to have had the opportunity to have captured those images of him.
Q: Tell us a bit about the Sports Shooter Academy. How did it start and what is the mission behind it?
A: The funny thing is that the co-founder,Robert Hanashiro, and I came up with the idea at a Dodgers game in 2004. We wanted to teach real world photo experiences to college students. Not show slides of images we have made in the past, but get out there with an instructor standing over their shoulder correcting them and teaching them in real time.
Q: Which came first for you, the love or sports or photography? When did you know you wanted to make sports photography your primary discipline?
A: It is a tie on what came first for me. I fell in love with photography at the same time I fell for sports. The men in my family took photos and played sports, so the two worlds collided around age 7 for me, I was hooked. I never wanted to do anything else.
Q: Over your career, you will have witnessed a great deal of technological change with photography and cameras. What feature in modern cameras and gear would you have a hard time living comfortably without now? Is there something that has become considered obsolete that you particularly miss?
A: I can’t imagine not shooting digital, don’t get me wrong I loved the days of film. Looking at slides over a light table was magical, but that time is come and gone and having the ability to get images out in seconds is great. I do miss the wait of film. I believe we all have trouble waiting nowadays, when I first started out I would wait a week for my film.
Q: Has the transition from film photography to digital impacted how much thought goes into each shot? How do you make sure you aren’t relying on quantity vs quality when each shot doesn’t cost you money anymore?
A: I didn’t jump into it too early, My first year transitioning to digital was 2003 and it felt like a natural transition for me. I’m naturally a heavy shooter, I think that comes from working with photographers like Bruce Strong and John McDonough. I’m very much aware there’s a time and place to hammer the shutter bottom and there’s other times when it’s a frame at a time.
Q: Your bio information on your portfolio site says that you enjoy playing Xbox with your son including John Madden football. Does it ever feel weird to be be ‘playing’ people you know and have photographed in real life?
A: I do love playing Xbox, I tell my wife it keeps me sharp. I’ve been lucky enough to have had some game covers over my career. It is a little weird to play these athletes in a video game before their professional careers. I once played NBA Live with Shaq O’Neal at his house and I dunked on him with him. That was really odd.
On February 13th, Samy’s Camera Photo School will be hosting both Matt Brown and Jon SooHoo for a photography lecture called Behind the Lens: Southern California Baseball. During the seminar, Brown and SooHoo will both present ten photos from their professional baseball photographer careers and share the stories behind each shot.
Behind The Lens: Southern California Baseball with Jon SooHoo & Matt Brown.
When: February 13, 2016; 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Where: Petersen Automotive Museum
Cost: $5 (+ museum entry)
Click here for more information & to buy tickets.