Guest Blog: Photographer & Graphic Designer Bob DeChiara
First, I would like to thank Scott and Brad for having me on as their guest this week.
I am a sports photographer covering the Boston market for USA Today Sports, and also a portrait photographer and graphic designer.
I started my sports shooting journey with USA Today Sports back in June 2011, shortly after the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. My second assignment had me covering a Red Sox game against the A’s and little did I know, the Stanley Cup Champs would be at Fenway as well – with the Stanley Cup. Prior to covering sports for USA Today Sports, I was shooting for a small wire service where I was able to gain experience and knowledge.
Rewind to 2008 when I purchased my first digital camera, a Nikon D80. I had no idea how to use it, I knew nothing about the lenses that came with it. All I knew is I wanted to make great photos.
Having been a NAPP member for years, following Scott, and reading his blog daily, I knew he was into photography and had written some great books. I ended up buying his Digital Photography Book series, which was the foundation that enabled me to become the photographer I am today.
Slowly, I began learning more about exposure, composition, shutter speed and aperture, but really had no idea what area of photography I wanted to excel in. I was taking pictures of everything from plants, to landscapes and cars, to portraits of my kids in hopes of making some good photos.
At this time my oldest son was playing little league baseball. What a perfect opportunity to do some sports photography. For the next 3 years I photographed every one of his little league games. I upgraded some of my gear, buying a 70-200mm, a D300 and a 300mm that came with a 1.4x teleconverter and I started covering high school sports for MaxPreps. I was gaining more and more experience, getting into a comfort zone, and meeting other shooters along the way who graciously offered tips and advice.
I met a local photographer who also covered games for MaxPreps. We shared stories on our experiences covering games at the high school level and he was kind enough to look at some of my work and offer advice on composition, among other things. Having looked at his website, I noticed he had some game action photos of the New England Patriots and I asked him how he got access. He said he freelanced for a small wire service. He was kind enough to give me contact info, and I sent out an email stating my interest in working with them. Within a week I was covering AHL and college hockey.
After covering numerous games at the college and minor league level, I wanted more. I felt ready enough to step up my game and start covering the major sports teams here in Boston.
I sent emails to AP, Getty Images, US Presswire (which is now USA Today Sports) in the spring of 2011 voicing my interest in being a contributor. After several weeks, US Presswire had responded to my inquiry and explained their process for hiring new photographers.
Having submitted a handful of images, it was now up to the editors to see If I had what it takes to crack their photographer lineup. A few weeks after submitting my images I received an email welcoming me to the team, if I was interested. I signed a contract the next day and have been covering games with them ever since.
In my 9 years with them I have been fortunate enough to have covered two World Series, one Stanley Cup Final, nearly an NBA final (Celtics lost to Cleveland in game 7) and many images of some of Boston’s best athletes.
Although covering sports in Boston is rewarding, I wanted more out of my photography and lighting was another aspect I wanted to learn about and excel in.
Joe McNally and Joel Grimes are two photographers whom I have followed closely my whole career. Joe, for his incredible knowledge of lighting and his explanation of how to see light, and Joel, for his sport portraits and compositing.
Realizing I needed athletes to photograph to test my lighting knowledge, I reached out to my contacts at the high school I graduated from. I had built great relationships with the coaches and Athletic Director over the years, and asked if I could photograph the hockey team. My first shoot with the hockey team was about 4 years ago. The setup was simple: two rim lights, and a beauty dish as the main light. The photos came out okay, but there was certainly room for improvement.
The following year I photographed the hockey team and football team. Now that I had some decent sport portraits, I wanted to do something different with them. Having a background in graphic design and using my design skills, I made Gameday posters of a designated player the day of a game and posted them on social media. This ended up being a big hit, not only with the students but with the parents, too.
The portrait and lighting experience I have gained over the years has led to jobs with the Boston University hockey team and several shoots with the New England Patriots.
In closing, I would like to thank the many photographers I have met along my journey who have been gracious enough to help me along the way, as well as the many talented photographers in Boston whom I have developed relationships with. Not to mention New York Post sports photographer, Anthony Causi, who recently lost his battle with COVID-19. Anthony was a fantastic shooter – one of the best – a good friend, and he will be sorely missed by everyone.