When it comes to sports photography, one job opportunity, one handshake or one great photo can lead you down a whole new path. For Sarah Sachs, attending Columbia College Chicago with a passion for photography led to numerous internships with pro sports teams, and time photographing on the sidelines for the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Guardians.
When working with the Guardians, Sarah was able to really understand the demands of being a team photographer, before being officially hired as the photographer for her third team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Since COVID affected MLB’s 2020 season and her position with the Diamondbacks, she is currently a freelance photographer (reach out and hire her!). Despite the setback, the unexpected moments are part of the journey, and it’s the unpredictable moments that attract Sarah to the world of sports photography, too.
We connected with Sarah to learn about her experience in the sports photography industry, her go-to game day gear, advice for aspiring photographers and more. Read through our interview with Sarah below and follow along on our Instagram this week as we share a selection of her awesome baseball photos and the stories behind them.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
PhotoShelter: How did you get your start in photography?
Sarah Sachs: When I was pretty young, my grandpa gave me a couple of film cameras, so photography was always a hobby that I enjoyed. In high school, I took photography as an elective and when I stepped into the darkroom I realized I instantly felt at home. Still, I hadn’t considered pursuing photography as a career until one of my high school friends, who knew I enjoyed photography, asked if I could cover a football game for the yearbook. While shooting that game, I just knew it felt different somehow. I knew this was what I wanted to do and there was no looking back after that.
Why sports photography? What do you love about it?
SS: For me, I think it’s about capturing the unpredictable moments and the spontaneous emotions of the athletes and fans that I’m drawn to. I just feel the most joy and a different level of excitement that’s hard to explain. Sure, I shot 81 baseball games in a season, but each game was different. The plays, emotions, energy, it was just all different each game. There’s also a lot of flexibility with sports to play around with angles and lighting which is always fun and keeps things fresh.
Any tips for aspiring sports photographers?
SS: I wish I had some really profound advice but mostly I’d tell anyone who’s looking to get into the field to ask questions. I’ve been able to give myself opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise had I not asked questions. I’ve learned so much from other photographers and the people around me. People love to share their knowledge and help others.
“Be curious. The only knowledge that can hurt you is the knowledge you don’t have.”Sarah Sachs
Tell us about your gear. What’s in your bag? What cameras, lenses, tools and programs do you typically use for your work?
SS: A couple years ago I bought the Nikon Z6II mirrorless camera and I’m really digging it. A lot really depends on what I’m shooting and what I’m trying to achieve with my photos and storytelling for a game. More often than not, I shoot with two Nikon D5 bodies with a long lens like a 200-400mm f/4 and then something wider like a 24-70mm f/2.8 or 24-120mm f/4. Sometimes I’ll challenge myself and only shoot with a wide lens or a 70-200mm f/2.8 and force myself to create images with a different perspective in mind.
Once I’m done shooting, I use Photo Mechanic and Lightroom to process my images and then upload them to PhotoShelter.
How long have you been using PhotoShelter? How does it help with your creative workflow and/or your photo business?
SS: I’ve been using PhotoShelter for about 8 years and it’s pretty much become a lifeline in my workflow process. From archiving images to creating and sending collections and galleries, I’m able to keep everything organized so that I can work efficiently and locate photos in a matter of seconds.
What’s your favorite PhotoShelter tool or feature that you use most often?
SS: When the mobile app was launched, it was a gamechanger. The accessibility is incredible – I don’t feel like I need to be tied down to my computer. It’s improved my workflow and ability to access images when I’m out and about and/or shooting an event.
Anything else you’d like to add or promote? We’re happy to share!
SS: Thanks for the opportunity! I hope that in some small way I am able to inspire and pave the way for other women who are wanting to break through an industry that has typically been male dominated.