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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2012-06-08

Sports Shooter Academy IX Report - Cooper Neill
“Just a bunch of people passionate about sports photography eager to teach, share, learn and grow from one another. “

By Cooper Neill

When I joined Sports Shooter several years ago as an undergrad living in Nashville, I was looking for a community of photographers who would teach, encourage and help a young kid out.

Now as a graduate student at the University of Texas in Austin and thanks to the great people at Nikon and amazing SSA staff I got exactly what I was looking for via the Sports Shooter Academy in a much more direct way.

Photo by Cooper Neill

Photo by Cooper Neill

4/28/12 --- TRACK --- Irvine, CA, U.S.A: Athletes participate in the 2012 adidas / Steve Scott Invitational at U.C. Irvine in Irvine , CA.

No threads on newspaper layoffs.
No U.S. Presswire drama.
No lectures on the death of photojournalism.
No complaining about the GWC on the sidelines.

Just a group of people passionate about sports photography eager to teach, share, learn and grow from one another.

College freshman to staff photographers and everyone in between traveled from around the world taking off work, skipping exams and cramming way to many people into a small room because we all wanted to be at THE coolest sports photography event of the year.

With Dave Black and David Honl lecturing on light, Sports Illustrated assistant Uncle Shawn Cullen and PocketWizard genius Ian Ray helping with remotes and the rest of the incredible faculty helping in any way they could – I’d say every participant came away a much better photographer than when they arrived.

For myself, aside from the expected improvement in my shooting, I had two main takeaways from my brief time in Cali: the friendships I made and a rejuvenated passion for photography that I caught from those around me.

Shooting boxing with Bert Hanashiro, lacrosse with Dave Black, soccer with Rod Mar and baseball with Mike Goulding makes for a great four days – having them as well as the rest of the workshop staff pushing you, encouraging you, teaching you and most importantly wanting to invest in you takes it to a new level. After a long day of shooting these same pros walk around giving critiques on your edits, many of which were brutal, but always true.

Hearing how those pros constantly challenge themselves to create new images was extremely inspirational. I already had respect for Dave Black but after hearing him speak on how he has managed to continue growing as a photographer by pushing the boundaries of lighting, remotes and camera types I was blown away.

As for the friendships – I left California with a new network of photographers who have continued to help me better my skills through advise on upcoming shoots and critiques when I finish shooting. I know these friendships will continue to grow and I’m excited to see where my fellow participants end up a few years down the road.

All in all it was a fantastic experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A special thanks to the many individuals and sponsors that helped put this event together – when time comes for the next SSA I will do whatever it takes to make it again.


Cooper Neill is a student at the University of Texas. You can see his work at his Sports Shooter member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=9155


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