Sometimes, the best shots at a sports event don’t go into a net or a hoop — they come from a camera.
Senior Ava Henson has a passion for and extensive background in sports photography. It’s most likely that you have seen Henson’s talents if you’ve seen professional pictures from a sporting event at Taylor.
“Since I was young, my mom had one of those old school cameras … I thought the idea of a camera was super cool, and I was really fascinated with it,” Henson said.
Around middle school, she would practice photography by taking random pictures. This would lead to her continuing photography throughout high school. It wasn’t until college that Henson began to take her photography seriously and work at different events.
In December of her sophomore year, she was able to buy a more advanced camera and began to learn about the videography field.
“I had a mentor,” Henson said. “He’s from back in the west named David Dixon. He’s an older African American guy, so he kind of poured into me being a female and also a minority in the industry.”
Sports photography is no easy task. Henson says that this job takes a lot of time commitment but also uniqueness for the photographer. She says photographers shouldn’t try to copy someone else’s work at the cost of their own creativity.
“I think when I’m (at an event), especially since it’s kind of a lot of the same events, I feel like I try and think of ways that people will be drawn into the photo,” Henson said. “I’m very specific on when I snap the shot and when I don’t.”
In the next part of the process, Henson puts her photos on her computer, sorting out and selecting her favorites. She then edits her photos to be published.
According to Henson, some of the challenging tasks include making herself look different from everyone else to stand out at the event, as well as dealing with issues like bad lighting that are difficult to control in sports.
Although a photographer can take many shots at a time, Henson says that there are also times when she and other photographers have only a moment to get the shot, and if they miss the opportunity, then it might not come back.
Henson recommends that in these situations, photographers must plan the kinds of shots that they want in advance.
“I think my favorite part is just the athletes seeing the pictures that night,” Henson said. “When I was in high school, I didn’t have any (pictures of myself) in my whole time playing basketball and I was like, ‘I want to be able to provide that for other athletes.’ And so being able to do that now and seeing how much it means to them is probably the most rewarding part of the job.”
Some of Henson’s proudest accomplishments include working at Women’s National Basketball Association games two summers ago. She shot several photographs at four or five games with professional women’s basketball players. Henson described her opportunity to be in the building with the athletes as a really unique experience.
Another event that she got to shoot at was a National Basketball Association game in Westfield, Indiana. Some of the professional players that she got to shoot included Lance Stephenson and Kyle Guy.
During her time at Taylor, Henson has been employed on Taylor’s media team. Being around her peers on the media team has allowed her to learn from them, which has encouraged her to maintain her passion.
Henson is grateful for her friends and the athletes she photographs who have continued to support and encourage her. Henson’s final piece of advice is for people to not be afraid to pursue what they’re passionate about. She said that she would love to talk to anyone who would be interested in pursuing sports photography.