Basketball Star Kevin Durant Hits the Sidelines as Super Bowl Photographer

Basketball Star Kevin Durant Hits the Sidelines as Super Bowl Photographer

Just as we wrapped up the discussion involving amateur photographer Brooklyn Beckham shooting for a prestigious fashion brand, basketball superstar and now amateur photographer Kevin Durant put down the basketball and picked up his Canon 7D to capture the Super Bowl as a credentialed photographer. In his writeup for the Player's Tribune, he tells his story and shares what he captured. 

For those who aren't aware of the Player's Tribune, the site founded by retired superstar athlete Derek Jeter, was made to give an inside glimpse of the athlete's life, giving them a platform to share their stories from their unique perspective. 

Yesterday, for Super Bowl 50, basketball star Kevin Durant decided to take on the challenge of capturing the biggest sporting event in America. 

When I was invited by The Players’ Tribune and the NFL to be a credentialed photographer on the sidelines during the Super Bowl, I said, 'I’ll do it' before they even finished their question. Seriously, that’s a dream offer...

...I’ve got a lot of interests outside of basketball, and one of them is doing things I haven’t done before, like stepping into the shoes of a photographer and learning about what it’s all about. I may be just starting out, but I also like to think that at my height, I might have some different angles than other photographers. After all, you’ve gotta play up your strengths.

Durant goes on to say that this "dream opportunity" almost did not happen. Leaving with his team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, from Orlando to Oakland, he almost forgot his camera.

What did I forget? I kept driving, but it was still bothering me. Then it hit me: the black bag on the dresser. My Canon 7D. My camera was in there.

I was able to turn around and swoop it up and still make it to the airport with a couple minutes to spare. Coach Donovan, thanks for not leaving without me. Moral of the story: show up with the right tools for the job. This weekend, I guess I had two jobs.


Photo by Kevin Durant/Player's Tribune

Photo by Kevin Durant/Player's Tribune

I’m learning how tough these action shots are to get; they happen so fast. It’s hectic following the action, then checking your settings in-between plays. It’s a lot of guessing and adjusting as you go... The biggest thing I learned is something I knew on a certain level, but didn’t know until tonight: sports photography is hard work, and it takes a lot of skill and focus in a crazy atmosphere with a lot of distractions. I have a ton of respect for the people who do this as a profession.

Adding to this story when he received his photographer's vest given out to all credentialed photographers, the vest turned out to be too small for his 6'11" frame. "I know it was a requirement to wear the vest on the field as a credentialed photographer … but I don’t know what to say. It was too small," Durant said. 

To view his full gallery and story, take a look here on the Player's Tribune.

So, what do you think? How did he fare on the sidelines? Should he quit his day job for photography?

Images used with permission.

Nick Pecori's picture

Nick Pecori is a Florida-based advertising photographer who has shot for clients Acer, Bealls, Shoe Carnival, the Florida Lottery, etc.

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He should read the "11 ways to improve your sport photography" article here. His shots look like anyone sitting on the side line would have gotten...

Sure thing! Nice having you here troll!

I'm glad he had some new found respect for photographers. Sports photography isn't really my thing anymore (I used to shoot boxing) but it really is hard on a guys back. Not to mention fast paced.

His shots actually aren't bad. Had no idea he had an interest in photography.

Fuck this. Fuck everything about this.

why? I'm genuinely curious.

Not bad. There's quite a few former pros who are photographers now. Randy Johnson, Tony Mandarich, Ken Griffey Jr.

Randy Johnson is actually a very good photographer (with a kickass logo too). I'll leave his website here for everyone to view:

I really like Randy's photography. I wasn't sure what to think when I saw he was at a couple of the NHRA races a couple years ago hanging with photog Mark Rebilas but I think he's really good. I don't know why he killed his Twitter account so now I follow him on Instagram.

Rocking the 100-400 4.5-5.6L. Also rocking f/20 0_0

Is this how professional sports photographers shoot? Seems like anyone with decent equipment can get in there and shoot if so. I hate to be a debby downer but I dont think theres anything special about what he did knowing this information about the settings.

No, this isn't how we shoot, and no, there's nothing special about what he did. He's obviously great at the thing which he dedicates his time to. I think the most important part of the piece is the amount of appreciation he gained for people who actually do this for a living. He didn't even have to handle the pressure of editing, captioning, and transmitting either.

Ouch. f/20?

Auto exposure mode with a -4/3 compensation =/

Do you have to dial in 1-1/3 stops underexposure to get f/20? Seriously. How could someone come up with that exposure?

someone didn't, the camera did.

Even in AE, looks like he used one wheel to try and shift the exposure, then the other, which was set to exposure compensation.

He selected the aperture (hopefully, in error), so it bumped the ISO high enough to give him a shutter speed equal to the focal length, and when he dialed in the underexposure, it increased his speed that much more.

That's my guess.

nice!! and he's not claiming to be a professionally good at it. but i'm sure he'll get better the more he shoots.

Half the battle as a professional photographer who wants to "make it big" is knowing the right people and getting the right people to see your work and give you a chance. What I would give to be as well connected as a pro athlete. I hope he had fun and that he got paid, and I hope he gets to do this again. I also hope one day to have the opportunity to do big jobs like this as well!

Congrats to Kevin. What a great opportunity! Also terrific for a non-pro to stick his pictures out there for the inevitable public forum pounding. I like the images in his gallery and I also appreciated the humble tone of his narrative. I'd bet he also got some very good bts shots that were not published. Nice work!

There is a few ways to look at this cynical and positive.

I love basketball, I watch every game I can and have followed Durant since his national fame at Texas. So as a fan and if I were his friend or family member I would say good for him, glad he can expand his life into other avenues.

Now as a professional photographer who went to college, shot sports on borrowed equipment from the journalism department and scratched to my position from nothing I have to pass on this. Until the images are worth looking at this is a non story, every one deserves a chance no matter who they are, but his work shows that he has not cut his teeth learning the trade and the super bowl is not the place to do it if your ever going to be taken seriously.

But hey someday he might and thats awesome.

Great article! It's good that someone with a large following like him can really demonstrate that photography isn't as easy picking up a camera and clicking a button.

Those low angle shots would be killer for him...