Art can be so much more meaningful when you know a little bit more about the person behind it – the eye behind the lens. That’s why we periodically profile sports/action photographers and their work. Read on to learn about photographer Shaun Cleary and get a good look at the world through his eyes:
Shaun Cleary was always the guy with the camera, even before photography became his profession. “I’m not sure when it started, but as far back as I can remember I was just the guy with the camera. Whether I was out with friends, at a party, snowboarding, or surfing I was always just taking snapshots.” Now that he works as a full-time professional photographer, Shaun enjoys capturing the extreme moments of CrossFit as well as his original love, surfing.
Most of Shaun’s current work takes place at CrossFit events, and his photos tap into the dynamic energy of competition. “While I love nailing that shot of an Olympic lift at the perfect moment, I much prefer to capture at competitions a wider-angle shot when someone nails a PR, does the winning rep, or does something otherwise amazing and I can capture the jubilation of the crowd surrounding them.”
However, aside from the amazing athleticism you’ll find at many CrossFit events, it isn’t necessarily the best venue for a photographer, technically speaking. This is where the challenge comes in, according to Shaun:
For the most part, CrossFit gyms – boxes – are horribly lit caves with disgusting, poorly-maintained fluorescent bulbs. Getting enough light for the shot to manage a fast shutter speed while keeping your ISO low to limit grain is a constant balancing act. Even with the best sensors – like with the Nikon D4 – the quality and quantity of light still plays a massive role in strong image. Every gym and venue I walk into is different and figuring out how to work with those unique scenarios always keeps me busy.
For Shaun, the most rewarding aspect of photography is the personal connection a photo can make with an athlete, their loved ones, and even total strangers who see the photos:
I love when I get emails or messages, not from the athletes, but from their parents or significant others after seeing competition photos. While the messages are different, they normally all have a similar theme where they are just so happy to see all that hard work and dedication their son or daughter has done, culminated in this great image. It’s often a part of a person’s life that they don’t share everyday so it’s great for people to see this.
For Shaun, allowing athletes to see these dynamic moments from the outside gives even more value to his work. “When I get to show the image to the athlete and see that expression like, ‘Whoa that’s me?’ it makes it completely worth it.”
Photos courtesy of Super Cleary Photo: