Stepping onto the field at Dodger Stadium is a dream shared by many an Angeleno. Never mind, doing so as a member of the team. Professional baseball photographer, Jon SooHoo has been living that dream for more than thirty years. As the official team photographer for the Los Angeles Dodgers since 1985, SooHoo has been responsible for some of the most remarkable shots in the history of baseball photography.
On February 13th, Samy’s Camera Photo School will be hosting Jon SooHoo and Matt Brown, Director of Photography for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a photography lecture called Behind the Lens: Southern California Baseball. During the seminar, SooHoo and Brown will each present ten photos from their professional baseball photographer careers and share the stories behind each shot.
Ahead of the photography event, which will take place at the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum, Jon SooHoo agreed to sit down with Samy’s Camera Photo Blog for an interview about his career as the Los Angeles Dodgers team photographer.
Q: Describe your typical camera set up during a Dodgers game. How many are you using and what are they?
A: Nikon D4 w/ 28-300-SB 910, Nikon D3s-200-400, Leica Monochrom with 35/1.4 in a fanny pouch for black and white moments.
Q: Do you have a camera that is ‘your baby’?
A: The loaner Nikon D4s that I have is remarkable. So, I am using this to death for everything until I have to return it.
Q: What was the first Dodgers game you photographed?
A: Back in the day, when I was a student at USC in 1981, the Trojans traveled to Dodger Stadium to play an exhibition game against the assembled Dodgers. One of the pitchers for the Dodgers was a young and upcoming left hander from Mexico.
Who, during this exhibition, was just another pitcher among the four Dodgers to pitch that game. It took me about 20 years to go back through my negatives to realize that this was the beginning of Fernandomania.
Q: What is the most memorable photo you have taken as the Dodgers team photographer that wasn’t directly related to game play?
A: The question can have several meanings. So, I am going to take it in this sense:
Last season, during our Old-Timers game, I was able to pose Hall of Fame Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax with future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.
Which, in itself is pretty cool. But the picture that made me the happiest was this one:
Posed pictures are wonderful if you are a great portrait photographer like Bert Hanashiro. However, for a meat and potatoes flash-on camera guy like me, it is less exciting. So, when I conceived the plan to do the posed photo in the bullpen down the left field line, I led them there through the back hallway walking backwards the entire time. This resulted in me getting un-posed gems like this.
This IS my favorite all time photograph of my Dodger’s history and it is the cover shot of my self-unpublished coffee table scrapbook of my thirty years with the Dodgers. God allowed me to be the Dodgers trigger man for all of this time and I am very proud of this honor.
Q: After having photographed so many baseball games and other sporting events, can you comfortably watch a game where you aren’t the photographer or are you scanning for shots you would be taking?
A: No I cannot.
Q: Other than Dodger’s Stadium, of course, which Major League Baseball park do you covering as a professional baseball photographer?
A: There are so many wonderful stadiums but my favorites to shoot are Pittsburgh-PNC Park, Chicago-Wrigley Field, and San Diego-Petco Park. More because of the cities themselves than the stadiums in particular.
Q: We are now at a point in society where just about every fan that goes through the turnstile has a camera phone in their pocket. Any event that happens within the game can be uploaded to the web by them within seconds. Has that had any impact on the role of a team baseball photographer?
A: It all is what it is. I know that I shoot what I want for me. Ipad/Iphone photogs are doing what they do for whatever purpose their journey takes them. I just know I am to do what I do.
Q: In 2010, you were given the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game against the San Francisco Giants. What was that like and who photographed it?
A: It was an awesome and strange at the same time. It was the happiest I have ever seen my entire family and the love the Dodgers gave me was very appreciated.
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.