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The 9 Best Sports Photographers in Houston

They say everything is bigger and better in Texas — and we can’t argue too much with the sentiment. Houston is home to six professional sports franchises (the Astros, the Texans, the Rockets, the Dynamo, the Dash, and the SaberCats) and a handful of big collegiate names, not to mention seven major annual events. With a sports scene that expansive, you’d expect that a city would have to have a rich, dynamic, and engaging sports photography scene — and if you’re talking about Houston, you’d be right. Take a look at our list of the most talented Houston sports photographers. We’re excited to share their work with you — you’re going to be just as impressed and inspired as we are!

1. Elizabeth Conley

Elizabeth Conley’s photos appear to always tell a story. A staff photographer for the Houston Chronicle for the last four years, as well as garnering a dozen years’ experience in Detroit prior to that, she’s honed her skills working with all kinds of subjects. She has a knack for capturing intense moments with unique color schemes and sharp focus, communicating clearly the impact of what’s happening in the shot. A perfect example of this can be found in the featured photo of James Harden on the ground after his injury in Game 2 of this year’s Western Conference Semi-Finals. 

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2. Jon Shapley

The Houston Chronicle may have a monopoly on some of the best Houston sports photographers, if you ask us. Jon Shapley is a staff photographer and videographer for the Chronicle, and his skill reaches way beyond the field or arena. A 2008 graduate from the University of Texas with a double major in studio art/photography and political science, Jon has built a successful career around the marriage of two of his greatest passions. Whether he’s shooting an Astros game, profiling local jazz legends, or doing a feature that emphasizes the humanity of inmates at a local jail, his work pulses with energy and life. 

3. Leslie Plaza Johnson

Believe it or not, the Chronicle strikes again! This time, our featured photographer is a regular contributor, Leslie Johnson, who’s also been published by the likes of Sports Illustrated and ESPN. She’s a university professor of visual anthropology and photography, and has ample experience in the real-estate photography business. Leslie’s skills span a broad swath of variety, but we’re especially enthralled by her sports portfolio. She covers local high school, college, and professional sports in what she describes as “documentary style,” an intimate, vivid, untouched approach that makes you feel like you’re right there in the ballpark with her.

4. Gina Gallagher

As far as we here at Peerspace are concerned, Gina Gallagher’s practically a genius. Actually — make that Dr. Gallagher! Before she began spending most of her time wielding a camera professionally, she earned her PhD in chemical engineering. Now, her days are full of beautiful images, careful editorial touches, and documenting some of life’s most precious events, and we’re so glad she’s doing it! While her primary focus is portrait work, Gina is exceptionally talented at capturing the motion and tension of sport as well. The texture and contrast in the photo we’ve featured here absolutely blew us away.

5. Michaela Schumacher

Michaela Schumacher has a unique talent for blending sports and lifestyle photography in a way unlike any of the other folks on this list. As the creative intern with Texas Tech Football, she’s able to capture the spirit of her young subjects in a way that many collegiate sports photographers can’t quite manage — in her photos, we see not just the physical presence of a talented competitor, but also the more personal, forthright inner self of the human doing the competing. We love the less-saturated, vintage-inspired tones of her work, as well as the way her style allows her subjects to shine in more ways than one.

6. Ralph Parrott of Sui Generis Photography

It seems like Ralph Parrott must be at every single high-school and collegiate event that goes on in the Houston area. His portfolio is impressively diverse, including photographs from football games, rugby matches, swim meets, golf tournaments, bodybuilding competitions, and more! With a vivid, high-quality, high-contrast aesthetic that never fails to put his subjects at center stage, Ralph’s work shines in the bright world of Houston sports photographers.

7. Maria Lysaker

With more than 15 years’ experience under her belt, Maria Lysaker’s a vet in the world of sports photography. Not only that, but as a former graphic designer at Walt Disney World, she has a love for art, composition, lighting, and design that transcends sports-action photography alone. She does a phenomenal job of capturing those fleeting, transcendent moments of sporting events — those triumphant celebrations, the end of those almost-but-not-quite comebacks, the bloody noses, the butterfly strokes. Her portfolio speaks for itself, and her dedication to capturing the moment is undeniable.

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8. Joe Buvid

You’ll never guess where we found our next featured photographer. Or, maybe you will. Joe Buvid wears many hats, and when we found him, he was wearing one emblazoned with Houston Chronicle. His work can be found in numerous other places, though, and he thrives in an editorial environment. His sports-action photography is truly inspired, with rich, warm color tones and unexpected angles, as well as a sharp grasp on detail and space. With a news-and-media-heavy background, Joe welcomes all kinds of assignments and is available for hire anywhere in the southeastern region of Texas.

9. Andrew Richardson

Wrapping up our list of top Houston photographers is Andrew Richardson. Though he functions primarily in the editorial/portrait photography realm, we’re absolutely taken with his sports-action work and could not help but include him on our list! Andrew’s work has lauded praise from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, and — you guessed it! — the Houston Chronicle. Andrew has the keen ability to see through to the essence of people, and whether he’s capturing soul in portrait format or immortalizing fantastic feats of athletic ability, he does it with a flair all his own, and we are proud to highlight his talent here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know some of the brightest talents in the Houston sports photography scene. Their work has inspired all of us here at Peerspace, and we feel confident you’ll feel the same. If you ever require the services of a highly motivated, highly qualified visionary in the Houston area, we hope you’ll consider one of the folks spotlighted here. You’ll be glad you did!

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