From Pro Player to Pro Shooter; the Sports Photography of David Liam Kyle

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Please tell us about your start. What got you interested in photography?

I was playing professional basketball in the Netherlands, and some of my teammates were very interested in photography, especially Jim Woudstra. During a week-long basketball tournament in London, Jim invited me to go with him one evening to shoot London cityscapes at night. After that, I was hooked. Once we returned to Holland, I purchased a rangefinder camera, and we started going to different towns photographing people, places and moments in time.

What led you to photographing professional sports?

My first photography position was a staff photographer with the Sun Newspapers, covering everything you could imagine. Some of the assignments were very mundane and tested your creativity. I always enjoyed capturing the crucial moment at an assignment, and shooting sports had more opportunities to do so. Sports at any level usually has drama, excitement, and the potential for some outstanding images. I met a lot of interesting people and developed many good relationships over the years while covering local high school sports. Those experiences and images built my portfolio and gave me the opportunity to start shooting professional sports.

Does your personal experience as a basketball player help you as a sports photographer?

Playing college and professional basketball has given me the opportunity to be on both sides of the camera. I understand players time constraints during portrait sessions, and I take into consideration player safety when using remotes and shooting game action. I have a good feel for the game and can anticipate what will happen next. After a few games, I will know most of the plays. My background as a basketball player along with my life experiences have taught me how to set goals, work with people, and be prepared for almost any photographic situation.

Tell us about shooting for the NBAE, how do they differ from other clients you have worked with?

I really enjoy shooting for the Cavaliers, and I feel at home when I am on the court. The only real difference between shooting the NBA and my other clients is the urgency for photos. My cameras are connected to the ethernet and my images are immediately transmitted to the NBA photo desk, as shot. When I shoot for my other clients, I do not have 23,000 people screaming behind me and athletes running towards me. Although it is very demanding, there is nothing like the rush and excitement of shooting a Cavaliers game.

What do you enjoy photographing the most when you are not shooting a sports assignment?

I like the contrast and peacefulness of shooting nature and landscape photography. It gives me the opportunity to be even more creative with my work. I have many fine art images on my website and in local art galleries. Over the years I have combined basketball, photojournalism, and fine art in my Classic Hoop Collection™.

We understand that your skills are self-taught. Do you have any words of wisdom for other photographers who are choosing to improve their photography this way?

I have gone from the black and white film era, using completely manual cameras, to the modern era of technology using ethernet connection that transmits photos as they are shot. My advice is to learn something new everyday and try to keep up with all the new photographic technology.

David Liam Kyle is a nationally recognized photographer who has captured awe-inspiring images of nature, people, news, professional sports, and more in a career spanning over three decades. David has photographed over 700 assignments for Sports Illustrated, covering the action of the NBA, NFL, MLB, PGA, and the NCAA, as well as portraits and feature stories. View more examples of his work at his website:

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