Darren Georgia is a Chicago-based photographer and content creator.
- I was born and raised in Colorado.
- I initially moved to Chicago to pursue a career in comedy.
- I produced and hosted a comedy cruise at Navy Pier for 2 years.
- I almost failed my high school photography class.
- I prefer Lou Malnati’s over Giordano’s [pizza].
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I’m originally from Colorado, and actually moved to Chicago to pursue a career in comedy! I pursued that for about four years, then discovered my love for photography and began pursuing that more aggressively. I’ve always been a huge baseball (and sports in general) fan. Photography has been a big part of my life. My grandfather, Lowell Georgia, was a photographer for National Geographic, among other newspaper/magazine publications. So growing up, we were always around the camera.
How did you first get into photography?
Initially, it just started as a hobby. I’d walk around the city and take pictures on my phone and post them. From there I invested in some gear and it developed from there!
What inspired you to become a sports photographer?
I’ve always been a big fan of sports, and when I shot my first few games, there was an adrenaline in trying to capture that perfect shot, but also putting a creative spin on it. Getting to capture (potentially) historic moments was always a drive behind it as well.
How did you break into the industry as a sports photographer?
I initially broke into the sports industry through an influencer program through Choose Chicago Tourism, when they partnered with the White Sox to have us come out and cover a few home games throughout the season. I started shooting from the stands, and eventually was able to network my way into a job with MLB. The rest is history!
Do you think it’s important to have an understanding of the sport you’re shooting to get the best image?
It definitely helps to have an understanding of the sport. With that said, if I’m covering a sport I’m not as familiar with or don’t follow as closely, I’ll always do my research prior to covering [it]. I still think it’s possible to get an amazing image from an event and still not have a complete understanding. Covering something new can always bring a new perspective to the event as well.
Do you think it’s important to anticipate the action?
It’s definitely important to anticipate anything! That’s what I love about shooting sports – it’s generally different every game, and you never know what’s going to happen. You don’t want to get too hung up on action, otherwise you might miss something else happening in the park. Be prepared for anything!
What sort of gear and tools do you use and bring to games?
I mainly shoot with my Canon gear, but I’ve also shot with Nikon. I also bring card adapters for my phone and laptop, extra batteries, and a monopod for video.
What is your workflow like at a game?
Generally, I like to get to the stadium pretty early, usually about 3 hours before to get set up and ready for the game. I like to shoot BP as my “warm-up” for the game, plus the lighting is usually better for those creative shots. Then capturing any pre-game ceremony shots before setting up for the game!
What do you typically look for in your attempts to make a great image?
It really depends on the elements around you. Sports and weather are two very unpredictable elements that can impact how you make a great image. One thing I love to work with is natural lighting/lighting in general to really make the subject of an image pop. Framing is also important to pay attention to.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed at a game or event?
Absolutely. There are some games/events where there could be a million things going on and, of course I want to do a good job, so it can be stressful making sure you do your best to capture everything. Even if you are really organized and prepared, there are still things that can come up or change. So being flexible is important.
What is the most difficult part about shooting a game?
It can really depend. Some games, there isn’t much action, so creating images from that can be tough. Other days, it can be the anticipation of something happening.
Any incidents or losing/breaking gear during a game?
There have been a lot of close calls! Both with the first pitch and foul balls in general. I will say one lesson I learned the hard way is forgetting to charge a battery, or forgetting to clear a card before a game.
What’s been one of your favorite experiences at a game?
It’s hard to pick just one. But walk-off ending games will always be a favorite experience of mine. The adrenaline leading up to it always has an excitement to it. The playoffs are even better!
What is your favorite sport to cover?
Baseball will always be my favorite sport to watch and shoot, but I’d say hockey is a close second! Nonstop action and fast paced – and a very different atmosphere from baseball!
Of all the sporting events that you’ve covered, what’s been a stand out moment?
That’s tough to say! I’d have to say one of the more recent ones is [Albert] Pujols’ return to St. Louis last year. It was his first time since leaving the Cardinals. I grew up a huge Albert Pujols fan and idolized him as a kid. So to get to witness that moment and capture such a historical moment will always be special for me.
Have you had an “I made it” moment?
Ha, I don’t think I’ve had that moment yet. I still have a lot I want to achieve. I definitely am proud of how far I’ve come in pursuing what I love; but still have a lot to learn and goals to strive for!
Do you have any advice to aspiring sports photographers?
There is a lot of different advice I can give, but a few that stand out would be to work hard and stay humble. Do what you can to get the shot without crossing any lines. Think outside the box and be open to advice and change!