Oftentimes when learning about the origin stories of various photographers, the newsroom makes its way into the conversation. Assisting other photographers is also a common experience as aspiring photographers find their footing. For Darren Carroll, a combination of the two led to a celebrated career and a stunning portfolio to show for it.
Darren has over 25 years of experience photographing sports and location portraits, both editorially and commercially – with an impressive list of clients, including Sports Illustrated, Golf Digest, ESPN, the NBA, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. A longtime friend and user of PhotoShelter, he’s a member of the official photography team for the U.S. Open tennis and golf championships, as well as a photography consultant for the PGA of America, too. It should also be noted that he’s addicted to vintage synthesizers and Texas barbecue (if you know him like we do, this is no surprise!).
We caught up with Darren to learn a little more about his experience working in the world of sports and portrait photography, how he uses PhotoShelter for his photo business, his number one tip for aspiring photographers and more.
How did you get your start in photography?
DC: I worked for my school’s newspaper in college (I went to Georgetown), and wound up shooting a lot of basketball games. Which also let me meet a lot of other sports photographers and editors in the Washington DC area. From there I started assisting, and when I moved to Austin in 1994 those connections then got me assisting work from Sports Illustrated, lighting basketball and hockey arenas for their photographers.
Can you tell us a little bit about the world of sports photography/portraiture? How did you get into that sector of the industry and what do you love about it?
DC: As I noted above, I got into it through assisting. My “niche,” golf photography, came about because an editor at S.I. named Ward Haynes told me that “nobody wants to shoot golf,” so if I wanted to give it a try he’d be happy to let me. I love the camaraderie and the friends I’ve made over the years–we’re a tight-knit group, and even today I’m shooting alongside some of the same folks who, 25 years ago, were assisting and lighting basketball arenas right alongside of me.
As for portraits, I love getting to meet and work with some great and very talented people, and I also love the creative process of starting out with a blank slate and creating an image that hopefully gives some insight into my subjects.
What’s one tip you would give to aspiring photographers? Who is a photographer you admire who you’ve learned from over the years?
DC: Assist. And then assist. And then assist some more.
As for photographers I admire and have learned from over the years, there are too many to count. But for starters, Heinz Kleutmeier gave me my first shot at Sports Illustrated, and with it came the opportunity to work with and learn from guys like John McDonough, VJ Lovero, Dave Klutho, John Biever, and Walter Iooss. So I’d say that’s a pretty good start…
How long have you been using PhotoShelter? How does it help with your creative workflow and photo business?
DC: I’ve been using PhotoShelter from Day One. I don’t know exactly how long that makes it, but damn, I’m old.
It’s become an indispensable part of my workflow–from archiving to client delivery to my website. There isn’t a single aspect of my business on the creative side that PhotoShelter doesn’t touch upon in some way.
What’s your favorite PhotoShelter tool or feature that you use most often?
DC: I guess it’s a passive use, but my entire website is PhotoShelter-based, so you could say I use that 24/7. 🙂
On a more active note, I use PhotoShelter to deliver images to clients constantly, I use the FTP function to get images to clients in real time from out in the field, and I use the site builder, obviously, to keep my website fresh.
Anything else you’d like to add or promote? We’re happy to share!
DC: Yes! Look for a brand new Texas BBQ Instagram feed coming in 2022!
Want to see more of Darren’s work? Check out his PhotoShelter website and follow us on Instagram for a behind the scenes look at a selection of his stunning environmental portraits! Plus, if you haven’t seen our conversation with Darren and sports photographer Jean Fruth, this is a must-see! Stay tuned for a list of Darren’s go-to lighting tips…