Look down the sidelines at a college basketball game and you’ll see two rows of photographers. They’ll most likely all be shooting with a 70-200 lens and have a 24-70 in their lap. “Everybody uses the exact same equipment from the exact same spot,” says Cooper Neill, who covers sports in his home state of Texas. The challenge is finding what other photographers aren’t looking for. So after years of shooting baseball, football, basketball, soccer and hockey, Neill brought his film camera to a game and started shooting double-exposure images. It has turned into an ongoing personal project that enables him to experiment with storytelling by adding layers of context to each frame, while helping him rise above the repetitive nature of his assignments. He joined R&K from Texas.
Roads & Kingdoms: When did you start shooting sports?
Cooper Neill: I grew up in a small town in Texas where everybody played every sport. So I grew up playing soccer and basketball and baseball and running track. I also played football in Middle School. Sports is a big part of life for a young Texan boy. But when I went off to college, I realized that being six foot two and 130 pounds is not really the athletic build to play sports at anything beyond the high school level. I ended up going to a music school and while I was there I started working for the student newspaper as their sports photographer. After I graduated, I ended up studying journalism at the University of Texas in Austin. I decided to go there instead of Missouri or Ohio or Syracuse because I got state tuition and also because Austin has a very big music scene and I could freelance as a music photographer.