You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

This iPhone-only professional photographer is the future of sports photography

TechCrunch TechCrunch 23/05/2016 Fitz Tepper

Picture a professional sports photographer. What do you see? Someone in a beige vest hidden behind a giant, telescopic camera stationed in the back of an end zone?

How about someone standing in a throng of spectators with only an iPhone 6s Plus in their hands and a battery pack in their pocket?

No? Well meet Brad Mangin. Brad has been a professional sports photographer for over two decades and has shot countless Super Bowls, World Series, and even the Olympics.

But those were all with a traditional DSLR (or film!) camera. Recently, he’s started exclusively using his iPhone to photograph professional sports events. Why, you may ask? As Brad explained, the phone’s small form factor has allowed him to get shots that would have never been possible with a bulky DSLR.

At first, I was skeptical. But after having Brad walk me through some photos that he shot and edited entirely on iPhone at THE PLAYERS Championship, it made sense.

  1. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 10: Young fans wait for autographs after a practice round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  2. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 15: Jason Day tees off on the first hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 15, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  3. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12: Early morning on the practice tee prior to the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  4. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 8: Champions locker room in the clubhouse before THE PLAYERS Championship on at TPC Sawgrass on May 8, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  5. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 10: Caddies carry clubs through a tunnel away from the 17th green during a practice round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  6. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 10: Rickie Fowler signs autographs for young fans after a practice round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  7. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 13: Jason Day's caddie Colin Swatton cleans his clubs prior to the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  8. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 15: NBC sports personalities Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks broadcast live from the studio behind 18 tee during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 15, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  9. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 15: Jason Day tees off on the 18th hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 15, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  10. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 14: The championship trophy sits in front of the clubhouse during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 14, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
  11. THE PLAYERS Championship

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 15: Jason Day poses for a portrait with the championship trophy after winning THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 15, 2016. (©2016 Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)
 View Slideshow
Previous Next Exit

The first thing that stands out is that these obviously aren’t the typical action shots you imagine when you think of sports photography.

One of the first things Brad touched on is the importance of knowing your limitations – as good as iPhone’s camera is, it just isn’t powerful enough to capture split-second action shots. So instead, Brad shot things where the iPhone’s small form factor would help him tell the story of the THE PLAYERS Championship in a way that action shots wouldn’t be able to.

For example, he was able to gain access to areas where a big camera rig would have been frowned upon. Plus, Brad explained that shooting with an iPhone is disarming – the lack of bulky gear allowed his subjects to let their guard down and be more natural.

Besides capturing more honest shots, shooting and editing solely on iPhone gives a tremendous speed advantage in terms of sharing the photographs with the world.

Typically, golf tournaments employ “runners” to canvas the course for photographers, and grabbing their memory card to run back to the media tent. Instead, Brad shot a picture, found some shade to edit it, and sent it directly to the TOUR, who were able to instantly share it across their social media. Caryn Levy, a photo official at the TOUR, said that Brad’s photos were the fastest turnaround time they have ever had at a tournament.

So does Brad just run these through an Instagram filter and send them off? Sometimes, yes.

Actually the editing process is a bit more complicated than that, but Brad really does occasionally use Instagram’s filters. He explained how he puts his phone in airplane mode and edits a photo in Instagram so it will save to his camera roll but not share to his feed. He also uses Snapseed, Google’s free mobile editing suite that is apparently popular among amateur and professional photographers alike. After the editing is done, he uses PhotoShelter’s Libris Uploader, which is a new iPhone app that lets multiple photographers all upload to one organization’s central photo archive.

Over the four days of THE PLAYERS Championship, Brad shot 3,232 photos on his iPhone, which resulted in 380 final shots. Interestingly, Brad often transmitted the same image in various colors and aspects (like square for Instagram), so the TOUR could instantly upload the ideal shot across social platforms.

As mobile cameras continue to improve, look to see more and more professional photographers eschew their bulky gear for devices like iPhone. While they won’t always be able to capture that perfect touchdown catch, they will be able to tell viewers a different story that only a small, discrete camera could tell.

More from TechCrunch

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon