Known for its eclectic vibe, boldness, and beautiful countryside, Austin has no shortage of interesting subjects to shoot. Austin sports photographers are especially in luck, as they have such a wide variety of possible sports, activities, and events to cover. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite photographers in and around the Austin area — prepare to be impressed by these ingenious artistic perspectives, approaches, and styles.
Chris Covatta knows his way around a camera, that’s for sure. A professional freelancer for more than 30 years, he has done work for the likes of Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine, Nike France, Panasonic Japan, Upper Deck Trading Cards, and NBA Entertainment. His work is vibrant and crisp, with his light- and shadow-play perfectly balanced whether he’s shooting in the blinding-hot Waco sun at a Baylor playoff game or under the artificial lights of the AT&T Center during a Spurs home series. He works with interesting angles and perspectives, too, as evidenced by the featured photo of Steph Curry stretching prior to a Warriors victory over San Antonio in 2016. His work is a shining example of the versatility Austin sports photographers must possess in order to succeed in this market.
Once a Yankee who swore he’d never stay in Texas after finishing grad school, Darren Carroll admits he’s been taken in by the city of Austin and the richness of culture there. His approach is to let his subjects perform the art of their craft in their own natural way, acting primarily as a documentarian there to capture the feats of the athletes, musicians, and public figures he photographs. His unobtrusive style allows his subjects to shine all on their own, without the need for drastic editing or coaching. His golf shots are especially interesting: there is a tension there but an ease, too, and the trust his subjects have in him is evident in his work.
3. Jay Janner
Jay Janner, staff photographer and video journalist for the Austin American-Statesman for more than a dozen years, is practically an institution in the world of Austin sports photographers. His work has won numerous awards and documented all kinds of events in the Austin area. From scenes as exciting and electric as the Longhorns’ baseball championship game and a Beto O’Rourke rally to harrowing moments, such as the aftermath of the police chase of a serial bomber, Jay has been there to document it all. His work is unflinching and straightforward — that of a true journalist — and every picture he takes entirely captures the mood of the moment.
Chelsea Purgahn is Texas through and through. Photography has been a part of her life since childhood, and she has taken that passion to the streets of Austin and beyond, capturing sports-action and community lifestyle photos, working as a photojournalist and videographer, and offering freelance services as well. She describes how she “develop[ed] her love for chasing color and light,” and in looking through her portfolio, you can see that she’s had no trouble finding them! Her work has been showcased in numerous publications, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.
The first word that came to mind in our reviewing Brontë Wittpenn’s work was “soul.” Brontë’s work is all soul — at times triumphant and bright, at others startling and poignant, depending on the subject — but soulful always, and always done with the intention of telling the truest version of the story, whatever that story may be. She has documented the unconscionable disregard of the health and wellness of the people in Flint, MI, by their local, national, and state governments; she has captured the high-impact force of sport and the passion on competitors’ faces; she has told the stories of survivors of natural disasters. Her work is striking and has more than earned her a spot on our list of best Austin sports photographers.
6. Heather Schramm of Austin Vivid Photography
Heather Schramm has a special flair for sports-action photography. Her images almost make us want to go out and buy mountain bikes of our own! Her work is so skillful, you almost feel as though you’re up front and center watching the Tour de France yourself. She is able to capture the fluidity and movement of her subjects so beautifully, we think she could make someone on a stationary exercise bike look like a world-class athlete!
Michael Clark has got to be one brave dude — just as brave as the extreme athletes he photographs. Take a look at some of these angles! There’s no way you can capture images like his without putting yourself in some pretty precarious situations, physically speaking. His work shines with intensity and grit, highlighting the earth’s natural beauty and his subjects’ insane talent in equal measure. We’re seriously glad that he’s daring and dedicated enough to document these feats, because we aren’t sure we’d be quite up to that task ourselves.
8. Shari Schmok of Dripping Springs Photography
About 35 minutes outside of Austin, you’ll find the town of Dripping Springs and photographer Shari Schmok. Shari has worked professionally in the photography industry for over 20 years and has had her work featured in publications like USA Today and the Austin American-Stateman, in addition to more creatively driven outlets like greeting cards and bottle labels. She aims always for evocative, meaningful work that tells stories and preserves in memory the most important moments of life. We hope that the short drive outside of Austin doesn’t discourage you from checking her out — the quality of her work is worth the miles and even more!
9. John Loftis
Rounding out our list of best Austin sports photographers is John Loftis, who specializes in sports-action, wedding, and portrait work. We especially love the work he’s done around the racetrack — check out the contrast in this featured photo! All of his race shots put you there, in the midst of the roaring engines and tire squeals. His style is fresh, bold, and immersive, and we are proud to feature him here.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of our favorites in the Austin area. We’ve included both well-established vets and some relatively new faces on the block, and we’re excited about each and every one of them. Keep them in mind if you are ever in the area and in need of quality photography!