Sports Shooter Academy XI



The annual Sports Shooter Academy workshop took place on November 5-9, 2014, in Costa Mesa, California. I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a participant in the workshop. Over the five days, I was able to take a lot of sports photographs and get feedback from some of the leading sports photographers in the 11/6/14 5:37:04 PM --industry.

When I got to Costa Mesa, I caught the end of Tim Mantoani’s presentation. Mantoani is a Brooks Alumni and now a commercial athletic photographer. I won a raffle for his book, Behind Photographs, featuring portraits of legendary photographers holding prints of their favorite photographs. His presentation was followed by Rod Mar, the team photographer of the Seattle Seahawks. Mar spoke about the three rules of the Seahawks: protect the team, no complaining, and always compete. But he told us that we shouldn’t be competing against each other, but against ourselves. This rule resonated with me because it reminded me that the first person I should be trying to impress with my photos is myself.

The next speaker was Grover Sanschagrin, the founder of the web building site, Photoshelter. He offered advice on how to market through social media outlets. He said we should find three things that we’re interested in and combine them to make a career. Brad Mangin was the final speaker of the night. He has done research cataloging the history of baseball from the 19th century to now.

What followed these presentations was three days of intensive sports photography all around Orange County. The first day was the most packed, with water polo in the morning, a portrait session with Lucas Gilman (an action sports photographer and Nikon Ambassador). After that, I shot an optional women’s rugby practice at UC Irvine.

The next day I decided to challenge myself by shooting softball and basketball, two sports I normally don’t photograph. The whole day I was discouraged with my results and it was very disappointing. Thankfully, I redeemed myself at a softball game and pulled out a few nice photos. What I realized is that my strength in sports has transitioned from action to features.

This was an interesting realization for me since my action images have always been stronger than my sports features. As I’ve grown as a photographer I’ve realized that the most interesting moments usually appear in feature photos.


Overall it was a great workshop and I met a lot of fantastic people. If you’re interested in sports photography while you’re in school, I would highly recommend applying to the Sports Shooter Academy next year. Personally I am excited to take what I’ve learned at Sports Shooter Academy and put it into practice back at home.

Thanks to everyone who made this weekend possible!

– Michael Der

– Candice Ward

-Matt Brown

Nikon Profession Services team: Mark Suban, Ronal Taniwaki and Sara Wood

– Samy’s Camera

-PhotoShelter (Grover Sanschagrin)

Marty McCrory and Brent Doscher at Gameface Media (for letting me stay at the Party Condo)