💯💯💯 “I need to shout out my whole team, like our whole team; the Bucs photo team, the creative team, the behind the scenes stuff, like we've been saying, there's so many people that have helped me get here and then helped the team get to where we are as an organization." Kyle Zedaker
Working as an NFL photographer is a goal for so many, and documenting a Superbowl season might be "the dream of all dreams" for a sports fan. In this episode, we talk with Kyle Zedaker on his rise from intern to team photographer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his thoughts on what it takes to stand out from the crowd, and the nuances of covering a Superbowl season.
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Michael Der 0:30
Alright, folks, welcome to another episode of entrepreneurs. We've got a really exciting show today, because my guest is the team photographer of the 2021 Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we're going to talk about the demands of this historic season run. But beyond that, the nuances of what it takes to stand out in such a competitive field like sports photography, you can view his work on Instagram at zedek, or Kyle and, of course, all over the Buccaneers Instagram page as well. Both accounts will be listed in the show notes. And we have a lot to go over today. So I'm just excited to bring him in all the way from the Sunshine State is the extremely talented, Kyle's that occur. Kyle, thank you so much for your time, brother. Thanks for being here.
Kyle Zedaker 1:08
What's up, man? Happy to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Michael Der 1:11
Absolutely. So I have to know, you know, what was this experience? Like? I mean, what in the hell? Can you even try to put into context? How this ride has been for you over the past couple months. I mean,
Kyle Zedaker 1:25
good word, good word to describe its whirlwind. tried to do as much prep as I can, as you get into these important games like for I guess I've never been to the playoffs, I guess. So I didn't know what to necessarily expect from a playoff run, let alone a Super Bowl run, let alone a Super Bowl win. And then you add in the other factors that just kind of summed up our season, you know, the Super Bowl being at home in Tampa, the additions that we had Brady and gronk and fournette. All these other personalities being added to the locker room. So it's like the responsibilities increased. And then they also kind of like got more focused as well. The net we had a little bit more direction as far as prep for prep for the Super Bowl. Man. It was a lot of zoom calls. Shout out to Meg Williams Donald page, through a Lloyd lb San Francisco just asking a bunch of people like hey, you know, you've made it to conference championship games and Super Bowls. What's it like to cover that? from both sides? You know, what's it like to be on the the unfortunate end of it? And then what, you know, what would you have liked to have done kind of deal. So they gave a lot of great advice, setting up remotes getting different angles, where to position the photo team, which was a little bit more limited this year, just because we were kind of stuck in the operational zone. So there wasn't exactly like a ton of access that we had an other than torian myself on the field. So it was definitely tricky.
Michael Der 2:48
This year is seems like very much an outlier type of season as compared to other seasons. Right? Mainly because of COVID-19 you guys had to have significantly more testing every day, it seemed like coming into the office, you know, as well as you know, less media coverage, less fans there. I know this was a strange season, but overall How did the Superbowl compare to any other game that you've prepped for?
Kyle Zedaker 3:12
It was I mean, they you know, they give the teams two weeks to kind of prep and get ready but like I was definitely grateful that we had those two weeks to to kind of prepare and get everything you know, kind of like I was saying get on those calls with with some peoples figure out what we need to do. You know, we had spots were like marked off and so we were working with the league in terms of getting our operational zone thoughts marked properly. You know, shout out to Ben liebenberg with the NFL he was super huge help getting our team kind of in contact with the right people in the league, you know, kind of helping us put any finishing touches on what we needed to do or any advice that he had. He shot a handful of Super Bowls with his team so much appreciated knowledge, but as far as a comparison I haven't I don't really have one who's a whole nother animal because you've shot big games before as well and right it's not that big by any means. I mean the playoff games I would say we're i'd shot bigger games maybe covered TV wise like the LSU Wisconsin game was a pretty pretty well broadcast game at Lambeau. So maybe bigger from like it a TV rating standpoint, but I wouldn't say nothing bigger than the Super Bowl.
Michael Der 4:17
Let's get to this boat cruise right out of the way. That just seemed like the most fun time. Anybody could have. I need to know what was going through your head when Brady was about to do that trophy toss. I mean, one was it was it improvised. Was this planned beforehand. Did you even know? And how long did it take for you to get set up? What was just going through your head there?
Kyle Zedaker 4:39
Yeah. Okay, so this is this actually kind of a crazy story. So right before the parade, just to get some background info. I was on a different boat. And then I got a call from my boss Christy. And she was like, Hey, can you pop over to Chris Godwin's boat really quick. I was like, sure. Like I yeah, doesn't matter which boat I'm on right now. I guess like now as long as we get some, some players to cover maybe
Kyle Zedaker 5:00
The trophy will come there and maybe we'll get some interactions with Tom and his boat maybe Bruce and Jason light and their boat, but then like I you know, I asked, okay, yeah. Who's Who else is on the boat with Chris and Mike Evans Scotty Miller can't break gronk Tanner Hudson, I was like, Yeah, let's do it sounds good. That's like a pretty cool crew. bunch of great people there. So like, I hopped on that boat. And you fast forward to when the Lombardi toss was happening. So just because of the volume of number of people, and then the movement of the parade, my transfer pack that we were sending images to our social team actually, like couldn't lock on to an access point. So it kept connecting, disconnecting, connecting, disconnecting. Okay, and so I was like, you know, I'm just talking to wear this. It's kind of like a heavy backpack. I'm all sweaty. So I'm in the back of the boat and I'm just like, unplugging basically kind of deal and then I hear like, oh, there might throw it and I'm like, Oh my gosh, so I just kind of like grabbed my wife angle and I got there at the last second and I'm not kidding like that was that was me. Looking through the live view kind of praying I got it in focus. Got a frame of bearing. I ran up there about I think the first frame I have was him cocking it back before he threw it and then I guess shout out cannon autofocus.
Michael Der 6:08
that's that's incredible. Now I'll ask I'll ask you this. Yeah.
Michael Der 6:12
If that trophy went into the river somehow Hmm. What would you have been your first reaction as a photographer like where is your lens going?
Kyle Zedaker 6:19
Yeah, I mean, I I got lucky with that framing because right at the last second cam braids fiance's Brooks Kelly she was like right in front of she used to work at the Bucs. So she was like, right in front of me. And just the last second for whatever reason, she kind of like lean to the left. And so that's when that window, or the trophy opened up. But like, other than that, I couldn't really see. Because everybody was on the front of that boat. So like if it fell in, I think I would have just kind of been like, Wait, what? What happened?
Kyle Zedaker 6:47
Kind of what do you mean trying to take it all in? But like, I don't know, maybe the reactions of like, because the best view as far as like facial expressions and stuff would have been Tom's boat with with them on it. But like, right. I don't know. That's thankfully we had 12 throwing the ball cam brate on the receiving end. Did you know that was a cool moment. I also had no idea what that photo was going to like what that was going to do. Like I got off the boat at the parade. I'm like, Guys, did you see the photo? I've been tossing it. And they're like, yeah, it's all over the internet. Like that whole moment. Oh, man. Yeah, exactly. See that? See that blow up. Because like, I wasn't checking my phone or anything during the parade?
Michael Der 7:25
Did you guys have more freedom on the sidelines this year with fewer people allowed? Or? In some ways? Were you actually more restricted in what you could do?
Kyle Zedaker 7:34
That's a yes, And no, there's a little bit of both. So we had more freedom in terms of like, we just there was just more real estate, like, you know, we didn't have as many photographers or video folks taking up spots on the field. So you know, there was us a handful NFL films, folks, specifically from the Super Bowl, and then it was myself and Tori Richmond, our other team photographer. And we were on the field, the Chiefs had two photographers, Steve and Andrew, I believe his name is and then there are also two video permitted for club. So other than that, like, you have your your typical game ops people that are down there running the clocks and the chains and all that stuff. But other than that, like you didn't run into too many too much interference on the sideline. But in terms of where we could actually go physically, we had our locker room access was taken the entire season. So that was that was really tough, especially with, again, going back to the storylines that we had coming in, right. You know, Tom Brady's first pregame speech, the celebration after Brady's first win is a buck, a lot of storylines that we really would wish to capture, and get that history for the organization. But like the way that the league had the protocol set up didn't allow that. And so like we had to adapt and make the best out of what we were given where you guys tested every day you came in. So it was it kind of changed throughout the year. I was Yeah, there were there were a handful of us that were tested daily. I was tested daily starting. I want to say like it was like the second week of June or something and I think my last one was a few days after the Superbowl or something like that. Maybe the day of the parade. I don't really remember but it was it was weird to kind of just became part of my morning routine show up Park. Go get tested, go inside get my coffee. Like it was just another step that became routine. It was kind of it was kind of odd when I took a step back to think about it.
Michael Der 9:23
When you have less people there on the sidelines and less media coverage. Do you feel at all more anxiety or a more pressure to deliver because you're it's kind of down to you and maybe a select few people? Do you feel more pressure to nail it?
Kyle Zedaker 9:38
I don't know necessarily. I felt pressure to nail it. But I just knew that it was that much more important. I just knew that like yeah, it was kind of I don't know, I've always had the mentality like just the way that my parents have raised me like I've always seen stuff as just like a challenge whether it's kind of like okay, this hands on like let's go you know, so like, if it was left up to me or left up to
Kyle Zedaker 10:00
A Tory or whoever was on the field, or closest to the field, I was pretty confident that we were going to get the gig done. So and that's the other thing too, like, a perfect example. Actually, I was I was I had a close contact situation before our first playoff game in Washington. And so I wasn't able to travel. And so I was our editor for that game. Okay, but like Matt Mae, who's on our freelance team and Tory, both, were still able to there, they were in the ozone, still got great content, and were able to capture like, Great stuff of our first platform. And, gosh, 17 years or so. 1718 years? Yeah, yeah. Since Oh, three. Yeah, yeah. So like part of since the Superbowl, so like, part of having the, you know, but that's another great benefit of having a team of people that that help cover the games throughout the season. You know, we have a team of six usually, myself, Tori, Mike Carlson, who and Matt Mae who have both been with the Bucs, whether in a staff or contract manner, and for 15 plus years each. So that's another wealth of knowledge that we have. And then Jason Parkhurst, we've got our editor Casey Lawson, helps us out with fans on a normal season definitely takes a village to get everything covered. It's not not all just football.
Michael Der 11:15
So at what point did you feel like the game was kind of in hand? Do you allow yourself to kind of be aware that this game is pretty much over? At some point? Maybe it's like the late third quarter, maybe it's halfway through the fourth year? At what point? Did you kind of allow yourself to know that this game was over? And then what was that creative process for you like in the mentality of preparing for the clock to hit zero knowing that it's going to be here and you're going to go either here or you're going to follow? What's the a story? What's the B story? How did you work with your team on that? What was the process?
Kyle Zedaker 11:44
Yeah, so that that was a tricky part. Because you know, Tori and I that's just not enough cameras, there's too much happening. There's one one thing we missed stuff, but we just weren't able to get get there. Whether it was Mike Evans and Chris Godwin hugging right after the game or Devin wipe down in the corner of the endzone praying by himself and the confetti You know, there's these little moments that you see trickle out afterwards, you don't have to pay for the prep. So being aware of it during the game, that's something I'm always aware of, because I've always tried to make sure that I'm in a position where I can get that coaches handshake, the quarterback handshake, especially in a season like this, where opposing quarterbacks can be shaken Tom Brady's hand, so that's a just important historical thing. And there might be head matchups like Aaron Rodgers, Patrick mahomes twice. We had Drew Brees twice. You know, all these quarterbacks are like dangs the Some legends it's pretty, pretty cool moments, even though they it is a pretty mundane thing. It's a handshake, but you look back on the people that are shaking the hands. That's that's what's gonna be the story for the franchise. You know, Two Minute Warning, yeah, this Okay, we're kind of there and I'm fully starting to put my long lens away, I'm fully starting to, to try and get in position for a potential Gatorade bath, which was a whole nother whole nother story.
Kyle Zedaker 12:59
The plan, you know, was for myself to follow Bruce and get the handshake with Andy Reed Tori was gonna run out get Tom and mahomes Yep. And then basically, we'll follow them until they intersect. I'll take it once they intersect, and then she can get off and get as many other people celebrating as possible families, confetti is, you know, all that stuff. And then we'll kind of circle back around throughout the mayhem and we'll do the trophy presentation. And then, you know, kind of follow people off the field, you know, where we're allowed to go sort of thing so so as far as the Gatorade bath goes, we had all of our, our shooters prepped, basically like in the ozone or was like, Alright, so if you're opposite, you're behind the chief sideline, you know, you start seeing those gains in hand, flip over the sideline, we need another angle. We need some sort of angle again, right back. Yeah, right on the coach. So I'm standing there and like, this is Tori and the whole team can attest. This is a photo that I've been talking about for weeks. Like I'm sitting there. I'm like, I'm trying to be on the receiving end of this game. Gatorade bath full on wide angle covered and Gatorade. They're celebrating I kind of like coordinated with a couple of our linemen who said they were going to do it. But then it turns out a couple of D lineman that kind of jumped the gun in front of them and so like I was literally standing right next to
Kyle Zedaker 14:14
right next to it. One of our our assistant head coach Coach Goodwin, he's out celebrating on field, you know, he's got his arms up in the air, the whole stadium. So it's another great moment, you know, to capture but like, I felt a little splash on my shoulder. You're like, No, no, I missed.
Kyle Zedaker 14:30
I missed it. But you know, I get another mention of like how crucial it is to have a team though because we did we do have multiple angles, Gatorade bath itself, you know, I just that's good. definitely wasn't able to flip around in time and get that but like great another great example of like the team was on it. So so we had we had somebody us
Michael Der 14:48
yeah, you just wish in that circumstance that one of those D lineman was like, hey, Kyle, and then just give you like a nod and then you'd like Okay, got it. We're good. We're good to go.
Kyle Zedaker 14:55
Yeah, and that's that's another part like there are you know, that's another part of my story.
Kyle Zedaker 15:00
Is the people skills, right is the building relationships and the trust with these players, because that does happen a lot that will, you know, for example, when a B signs, and you know, one of the first practices and we got to the first game and he was like, Alright man, find the Enzo, I'm gonna find the bucket hat and we'll find the bucket. I was like, Okay, let's do a myth party in the endzone, you know, like, and so there are definitely things where they'll notice Tori or myself. And they'll be like, Oh, yeah, like they're a practice all the time. They're going kind of through the grind of the season with us. And so they're used to running straight at us or pointing at us. That's why we carry those wide angles. Like you only really need it until you like a need. Yeah, yeah. It's not very often I'm using 16 to 35 or something that 24 to shoot action. It's kind of when you get those groups celebration when they come up in the lens and stuff.
Michael Der 15:48
You kind of mentioned this a little bit in terms of knowing the players, knowing the people knowing maybe the storylines as well. And the Buccaneers had noise all year long ever since Tom Brady signed. Sure that was the a season a story all year. Yeah. Antonio brown comes in Gronk comes in hosting the Super Bowl as the home team. That's a story as well. Are you at all plugged in to all these little sub stories, these narratives? And, you know, as they develop throughout the year, does that impact the way that you cover the shoots? And the the games and the pre games and the post? How does it impact the way that you approach your job?
Kyle Zedaker 16:23
Yeah, I mean, I, I would say we're aware of it, I don't want to, you know, we're not necessarily like, letting it sort of influence how we go about doing our jobs. But, you know, we're more so interested in the storylines that are gonna bring, you know, some positive notoriety of the franchise, whether it's Tom and gronk, breaking, you know, the postseason touchdown record, between the duo like that was a substantial moment for the league, as well as the team, which worked out. But then, you know, you have, you had moments throughout the year, like Tom said, I believe you set the franchise record for passing touchdowns in the season. And so we had, you know, a bunch of milestones like that, which our PR team was in contact with our digital and social staff. And then they would kind of get a rundown of like, Hey, here's some some, some milestones, things to look out for. I mean, the the biggest one that we knew, kind of really isolating going into the season was Mike Evans, potentially hitting 1000 yards for his unbelief seven straight season. I mean, that's there's been some pretty crazy receivers in this game. So to kind of have that storyline coming in, among all the other stuff, like you can kind of go back to the relationships like, we get really excited to see these guys reach these personal milestone, because we see how hard they work in the day to day and we see what they put into it. You know, what we're allowed. And then you also have the stuff that you behind the scenes, the film, The studying at home, and all this kind of stuff. So it is cool as you develop those relationships within the team. Seeing these guys get some personal success along with the team success just because it works so hard. So seeing guys like specifically guys like Mike and Labonte get those championships. It's pretty cool. Absolutely.
Michael Der 18:05
Let's rewind a little bit. Sure. Cuz you started off working in athletic departments at like, LSU. Yep. You You interned at Minnesota for with the Vikings. And then you became the assistant photographer for UT athletics. Before you joined Tampa Bay, can you talk make you walk me through what that experience meant to you working in athletic department, specifically, how that prepared you to get to where you are right now?
Kyle Zedaker 18:29
Yeah, so I always say it's kind of funny. Like, for those out there working in college athletics in the collegiate world, I tip my hat to you. It's a grind, and it's a crazy grind, but it's never something I would ever want to go back to. So it's harder than what you do now. It's just, there's just a whole nother element with the recruiting portions. And, you know, the demands of having so many different rosters to keep track of and photograph and while also trying to make sure that you're putting the same amount of effort into each team and not shortchanging a coach or, or a team or something just because it's like, oh, man, I just stretched too thin, you know, you want to make sure that you're getting every team proper coverage under that athletic umbrella. But uh yeah, I started out shooting as a student at LSU under Chris parent who's kind of running the show there now basically applied to work as the newspaper The Daily rebel he and I didn't get the job. I didn't have a car down there at the time. So they were like, well, we can't really can't really get to stories or anything like that. Okay, that makes sense. They direct me over to Chris at the athletics department. Got a job there as a student shooter and you know, dad, turn this off listening.
Kyle Zedaker 19:42
But a little bit more time into that that I did my degree for a little bit.
Kyle Zedaker 19:46
swapped my degree over journalism to photography, and like the fine art school, so I kind of really got technical with it when the film processing the printing, dodging, the burning allows
Kyle Zedaker 20:00
Yeah, all that stuff gave me a better appreciation for the process, kind of how pictures made rather than taking on just a different way of thinking, kind of fast forward to that graduation day. You know, I got my degree, like a semester late in the summertime. And then literally the very next day, I'm driving up to Minneapolis to start my internship with the Vikings. with Andy Knudsen, Zach Terran. At the time, shout out to them. I'm so appreciative to them, because that that was my end. Yeah. That was my slot. That was my opportunity, you know, so that was my foot in the door moment. Right. And, you know, they, they did some Vikings as a whole did some really cool which they, they allowed me to miss training camp to finish completing my degree, and then meet them up in Minnesota, because they still saw something in me and saw something that was worth that decision. So I'm forever grateful for that. Because I don't know, if I would have gotten the other opportunities that I've had, that I've had now, specifically, the one with the bucks, just because having that NFL experience is is a really big factor. Yeah. And so I left. I left Minnesota. I go out to Knoxville, because my guy Donald page. He's now the head guy for the Titans. He was the head shooter out there. They were looking for an assistant photographer. And I was like, heck yeah, go learn from Donald like, no doubt. One of the one of the best guys one of the best shooters I know. And so one thing led to another, Donald was stepping away to some other opportunities. And I was there working, you know, a couple jobs are the responsibilities by myself. So it wasn't the best situation for me. But it was definitely the best way for me to learn and kind of handle all the craziness that gets thrown at you in this job. So I'm very, very thankful for my time at Tennessee. I also met my girlfriend there. And so like it was, I love Knoxville, Knoxville, such a great town. I met so many friends there that are still working there. So always have loved Tennessee. That was a it was all over the place. I think up until living in Tampa like last year, I think Florida was like my fifth state four years or something like that. And so yeah, I got the I saw the job pop up on teamwork online for the bucks. Like, sure. Like, you know, I want to get back in the NFL. I don't know anything about Tampa. I don't know anything about the bucks.
Kyle Zedaker 22:14
No jumped at it. And then it was it's actually a funny story of like, how I actually got an interview because I was one of those situations where you apply and you just kind of don't hear anything for a while and you're like, well, I guess I heard somebody else kind of deal. I actually get an email while my mom, my sister and I are in Paris. We're on vacation. So we were planning between the three of us for a long time. I just got an email from the Buccaneers, like when What do I do? And they were asking if I can do an interview. And so I was like, I don't know. So Jason Turner, my boss, now he goes, he goes, Hey, what's up interviews? I'm like that I'm like, yeah, here's the thing. Here's the deal.
Kyle Zedaker 22:54
Kind of a little time change we got to deal with here. So like I got it was like, I think right? When I got home. From the day, we went to a couple museums or something. And it was like, kind of after dinner time for us. And he was like, Yeah, I got a break now for lunch or something like that.
Kyle Zedaker 23:09
This is wild. It's, it's you know, so he did the interview that way and
Kyle Zedaker 23:14
ended up being a really, really good fit. I came out took a tour of the facility kind of met everybody the creative staff
Kyle Zedaker 23:21
kind of got the vibe for the place, and kind of a little bit of a vibe for Tampa and then yeah, pull the trigger. And here we are. Three years, almost three years later, finish up my third season, then that was Super Bowl champion, man now, that's kind of weird. I get to put that like
Michael Der 23:37
I think you should I you know, I mean, why not? Right? I mean, you're gonna get a ring. I would imagine you're part of that history there.
Kyle Zedaker 23:44
I don't know. I haven't even thought about anything like oh my gosh, like that's what it what else comes with doing all this stuff. So crazy.
Michael Der 23:51
Thinking about kind of how you started out? Yeah. What did you not do Well, at the start that now you feel I've got a little competency there.
Kyle Zedaker 24:00
Yeah, asking for help. Honestly, asking for like feedback on imagery, younger photographers that are asking for advice, asking how did you get here? How did you get there, it's like ask to have your work, so to speak, torn to shreds. Because the like feedback that you're getting from social media, while it can be valid, while there can be people that have experience in that field that you're trying to get into, like most people follow you on social media voluntarily, so they're not really following you to prevent criticism, or to like, you know, if something's, you know, horizons crooked, or the little technical things that often get overlooked,
Kyle Zedaker 24:37
because there is like a light count associated with something sometimes. So my example is with Stacy revere, he works for Getty, and he has been one of my biggest mentors. Best one of my best friends throughout this whole process. And I mean, I'm telling you, he ripped my photos to shreds when I was at LSU. Like, absolutely tore me apart. And I was like, dang, this is
Kyle Zedaker 25:00
Like, this is intense this is this is crazy. But I also had that experience at LSU from the photo critiques like in school, so we just put all of our prints and stuff on the wall. And everybody would be like, I don't like that one. Yeah, I was just critique, like, if we just look at what's not working, what is working, what's not successful, that started me being like, oh, like, Who do I take feedback from them? Like, do I just listen to Stacy, do I go elsewhere? Do I find somewhere that's a little bit more positive? Because like,
Kyle Zedaker 25:28
not exactly great. Going back and getting my photos torn up. But at the same time, you can take something positive from every single negative thing said, I remember there was there was one photo.
Kyle Zedaker 25:39
And all he just responded with with was, what is this?
Kyle Zedaker 25:45
Like? Yeah, that's a good. That's a good point. I don't have I don't know. But I was like, that is a good point, like, you know, being intentional with kind of decisions that you make, whether it's cropping how you crop, where you're placing your focal point, or where you want the viewer to find a focal point, like, you know, being intentional with stuff so that you can answer questions about your photos is just absolutely crucial as well, because the both the the trophy toss photo, for example, was like, I didn't really have a why for much stuff. I was like, I need it, I need to get it up there. So like, and then then you go from there, and I take it and I say, Okay, I want all these hands cropping in here, I want to put the trophy a little bit higher up to kind of show that it was floating through the air as much as I can. But I also want to include, like, you got boats in the background, to the right, to include the boat parade aspects, some of the fans and the city of Tampa. So like, a lot of layers to the images and like building images is what basically, he was like, you have to be hyper aware everything because not everybody.
Michael Der 26:48
Well, I think that's a great lesson for a lot of photographers that are trying to venture into this space. Because Yeah, it's not just about spraying and praying. And you know, you got 11 frames a second, you're just gonna go, you'll get something you'll get one good frame out of everything. But it's like, ya know, the intentionality, I think what you're talking about is is really poignant. How did that in any way kind of form your own opinions now, because even though you're incredibly young, you are now seen as maybe a mentor to others you're seeing as somebody that they look to what do you see as pet peeves in photography, that you see maybe young photographers coming up on the sidelines, you know, that are just getting their feet wet? You know, that just based off of watching them you like they could be doing something better here, if they really want to get the shots. Are there is there anything that stands out to you that you would see as something that you could adjust?
Kyle Zedaker 27:39
Yeah, it's it's kind of getting used to photographing the non glamorous moments. You know, everybody loves the pregame photos.
Kyle Zedaker 27:47
Everybody loves shooting at 1.4 shooting way wide open, as the broadcasts are calling it the next gen.
Kyle Zedaker 27:54
Next Gen look, but it's a goes back to the intentionality of why are you shooting at 1.4? Right? Like, what about this pregame moment, a lot of portfolios that I got for the internship that we had was like, very beautifully lit photos of athletes just sort of looking off into the negative space. What's this telling, like, why this person? Why this moment, you know, what was happening here, like there's just something more that needs to be told there. And so I putting an emphasis on game action, that sort of creative vision, putting that and trying to apply that into game action, and doing that from the sidelines. Because as important as popular and as well received as a lot of those pregame photos do on social media because they are the more beautifully lit to the depth of field.
Kyle Zedaker 28:46
The closer up you're able to get you know, they're just a little bit more impactful, but at the same time, they're getting buried on social media as soon as the game starts. So putting an emphasis on the game action and trying to do that thinking from a team perspective, you can walk around the halls of ABA Health Training Center, like our our facility, you're not gonna see any pregame photos, like you're gonna see action, writing to see the team playing the game, you know, what, what people are paying the money for, per se, but that's not to dismiss anything from pregame right? Like that's a huge part of the story. Like we had a lot of powerful pregame moments, and even more so now with athletes using their voices and their platforms to wear it, whether it's wear cleats, that standing up for something or a T shirt, the NFL social justice program where they had all the T shirts
Kyle Zedaker 29:34
with every voice and sing before the game. So there are a ton of ton of powerful moments pregame but that can take precedent over the actual game, in my opinion.
Michael Der 29:44
So what do you look for for people that are getting their portfolio started? What stands out to you as something that is strong? Maybe What's something that you would maybe kick out of? Is there anything that you're looking for? I know you're not necessarily in the position of let's say hiring people but you talked about, you know, when when tour
Michael Der 30:00
was brought on, by the way, shout out to Tori Richmond. She's a fantastic photographer tech. Yeah. So what are you looking for, you know, you've talked about all the people that have helped you develop your portfolio, what stands out?
Kyle Zedaker 30:11
I think the important thing, when like, reviewing portfolios is to be cognizant of what gear is being used and what access to gear, that person might have a lot of applicants for it, we can use the internship as an example. You know, we were supplying gear for that position. So I was kind of taking, basically the subject matter, not necessarily the image quality, per se, whether it's super grainy or something, whatever. And really seeing like, the foundation of the image, is their peak action happening, what are they seeing kind of do? What are they including in the frame? Are they like using the cropping to add a little bit of depth, including players in front behind just kind of things like that, seeing if there's a foundation of like something that's coachable? Yeah, you know, cuz if I'm, if I think if you're sitting there, and you're getting really technical about like,
Kyle Zedaker 31:05
all of their horizons are crooked, we can't hire them like, well, that's only teaching. Like, yeah, that's really easy to fix. You can you can straighten her out. That's super simple way. You can teach somebody more impactful cropping? Can they identify those peak action moments to like, one pet peeve for me is photos of quarterbacks without the football in their hands. If that from a team perspective, if that is using some sort of graphic or cutout, all it is is like, would be for us is Tom Brady with his arm in an awkward spot and like not looking like that powerful hero, right back, you know. And that's kind of how we begin as a team person. That's how we cover these games. We're looking to make our guys look good, right? Yeah, nice, high elbow, strong position looking like you're almost flexing the bicep for a quarterback. Ball in hands for wide receivers, or like just barely touching it.
Kyle Zedaker 31:56
Kind of those little things that are like, sometimes overlooked, but can make a photo from good to great. I do think there are like some things that just need to be followed the cleaner backgrounds, the strange horizon, yeah, certain things like that. And then it gets really fun, because you see how people put their own creative visions on those things, and see how far they can stretch the boundaries without actually being like, you know, I'm gonna just cross it and break the boundary all all ones together.
Michael Der 32:23
So when you're, when you're documenting, let's say behind the scenes of a team. Sure. And obviously, this year being a little bit compromised. But generally, when you deal with locker rooms, traveling buses, or planes, moments after a loss, how do you decide when to lean in on those pictures? And then went to kind of back off? Like, how do you negotiate that?
Kyle Zedaker 32:46
Yeah, that this is something and kind of going back to the the sports shooter days, right? When rod Maher was giving his his, his presentation on pressure, it was mostly behind the scenes stuff that he does with the Seahawks and like rod is, he's behind the scenes man, like, he's so many powerful moments.
Kyle Zedaker 33:05
And sometimes it you know, photographically, like on the surface, it's just a guy standing outside a locker room, but you know, the way that he captures it with whether there's a sign or a logo or something in the background, or the lighting or the player's facial expression at the time, like,
Kyle Zedaker 33:21
there's always a story within that. So it really, but at the same time, like, how did he get there? Right? Yeah, he got there. Because they, I think it was Doug Baldwin, there was a photo we had. And it was right outside the locker room. And it looked like a very private moment, right. But I'm sure rod has built up the confidence and the relationships with the guys in that locker room so that they're not so much disarmed by his camera being pointed at him, right? Because the first thing anybody does when they see a camera, especially the cameras that we use those full full frame bodies, like it's not like a Oh, yeah, that's an iPhone, kind of nonchalant thing, like, it's a big piece of equipment is being pointed at you and you're like, Whoa, what is that sort of being used for? So like, without that trust, a lot of these behind the scenes moments can't happen, you know, building up that trust and being able to approach the behind the scenes moment of like, this was a really tough moment for this person. But is this something that can be used down the road as like redemption? Right? So you think about the Virginia upset in March Madness, and all of those heartbreaking photos of them walking off the court and stuff like that, and then you turn around one season later, and they're cutting down nets. And it's like this book and amazing story, in sports that will be remembered for a long time. So it's, it's things like that almost having a little bit of attempting to have a little bit of foresight to see like, What can this be used for in the future?
Michael Der 34:43
So how do you if I can lean in on that, like, how do you build that trust?
Kyle Zedaker 34:48
Yeah, so like, I keep going back to the it's different for a team position, because we also we have the access to be near these guys and sort of learn who they are as people more so than players.
Kyle Zedaker 35:00
It's, it's something that I think we can't take for granted, because it only enhances the content. And like, you know, there's big word, the content word like everything, all the encompassing the video, the social, the design, you know, the more we can learn who these people are, the better it will be for the organization. But at the same time, we have to do it in the right way. Yeah, no, it's not like, we can just say, Oh, hey, then why, like, you've got a bunch of horses, like, you're super cool with us just taking photos and videos of something that's kind of your private world off the field and something that you're very passionate about. So it's like, a lot, letting them open the door. And it's the little moments that are saved their family, you know, players, families, visiting after training camp practice one day, you know, stopping them and saying, Hey, would you like us like family photos, showing that you're there for more than just them playing football? It's, you know, also kind of recognizing that they are people as well. So it's like, someone's having a bad day. Yeah, you know, usually, there's kind of steer clear of them. But like, if you don't have to always be like, Hey, I was that game Long's like, yeah, it doesn't always have to be about football, or whatever sport they're playing. It's like, you know, Tom moved down. And at the asset shoot, that was kind of one of the things I'm like, hey, like, the move went, well, you know, family's doing well, and it was kind of like a little icebreaker to get the conversation started.
Michael Der 36:26
So and I think it brings back that that word of intentionality to, you know, when you're picking the camera up and putting it to your eye, if you're seeing like, especially in training camp, because that's when you you cut a roster, right? You know, you go from however many people down to 53. You know, they're guys losing their jobs now, though, and you have to decide, is this the picture that we really need to take right here? I mean, like, part of my training is just to always take pictures, but at the same time, you have to be more cognizant of how it represents the team? Is that something that needs to be done?
Kyle Zedaker 36:54
Yeah, and I mean, this this season is a great example of that, with all the COVID protocols that we have, right? Early on, when we didn't quite understand what was going on with the pandemic, and what was spacing and social distancing. And all these different things like how would that apply to the sports world and portraying through puddles in the beginning of training camp? Like, is that, you know, is that an image you want to be putting out that that kind of stuff? And so there's, because we have to think about as photographers as well, we are visible portion of the front of the brand. You know, it's it's a collaborative effort between visual team, the creative team, video production and photo and we're creating that visual identity.
Michael Der 37:38
So it's a perfect segue, because I wanted to talk to you about the importance of a photo team and what that actually involves, you know, a lot of people don't know what that ecosystem looks like. And I think anybody that wants to get into this, it's important for them to have some sort of semblance of what the people involved do, and how you all work together. Can you walk me through the photo team? Yeah. And how that synergy works?
Kyle Zedaker 38:02
Yeah. So when I started there, they kind of had created the new position. So they just, boom, one man band. My boss, Jason Turner is the production manager. So he oversees photo,
Kyle Zedaker 38:16
helps manage projects for the creative squad, and then helps out with pressors. The a lot of the AV stuff. We have Tory ratio. And who's our other team photographer. We have mentioned Mike, Matt, Jason Parker's and a regular season. Our fourth photographer fans, Casey. And then we have our game day editor, Vince, who helps us out remotely for way games, and then he's in the building for home games. So we've got a lot of different roles. The contractors are mostly purely a game day role. The day to day stuff is handled all by myself. So yeah, that's me, you know, kind of the divide and conquer, where you really try to approach everything as a team trying to make decisions photographically about a team or like her as a team, I should say. So do you guys inherently know if Tory's on one side of the field, you're on the other side? Or if you're if she's got long glass for a red zone play? And do you come up and say, You know what, I'll just get coverage and shoot a wider or are you making those decisions at all, um, it kind of like you're saying it's kind of like a something we just kind of learned together over time. So I think it's just we've built up a really good shooting relationship over time, where it's like, I've just always been on the home sidelines since I started, so I kind of just inherited that. And so she'll be roaming, the visiting sideline, and we're following the action just because we are those people that are able to be mobile specifically this season with this really, it was really difficult for freelancers to move up and down the ozone. Whether there were fans in the stadium, but you still had to cross stadium seats. It wasn't it wasn't the typical like, you know, just mad sprint up the sideline behind the bench. And so we've we've developed a really good kind of duo there.
Michael Der 40:00
How do you get assignments? For instance? I mean, obviously, you know, when game days there, yeah, you know, you just shoot the game on something like for instance, I know that you had to go right after the parade. Shoot. It was a Levante was riding the horse in the stadium? Devon. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Devin White was okay, who who signs that to you? Is that something that you just inherently know, as a team photographer like, hey, they're gonna do this, I should do it? Or is somebody telling you like an editor or a project manager telling you, we need this as well?
Kyle Zedaker 40:31
Yes, we're, there's a lot of communication that that one specifically was really funny, Devin and I having that LSU connection. We didn't really we didn't go to school there. But that was definitely a big icebreaker. And it's been kind of like a, you know, a spot that we can kind of Converse over and talk about. And we've been working on a couple things behind the scenes as well. So like, he's been kind of like, my guy per se, like, I don't I hate I hate using that term, like, oh, like some sort of flex or whatever. But like, it's been really good working together with Devin, and kind of figuring out projects and stuff. So we were actually on the boat and our social one of our social coordinators, Jill was just talking to him. And Devin, he just mentioned, he was like, Oh, yeah, that's it, no problem. After the after this, I'm just going to go ride in the stadium or like, what, like, he just kind of dropped it, like we were about to take off on the brain. And we were like, you're doing what like, Okay, hold on. So like, then we just went into the fray of like, Okay, I'm just gonna stay to stick with Devin right over there with him. So we have something and then we'll get video in place. And it was kind of this mad dash. But on a normal kind of day to day it most of the funnels through Jason, our production manager will usually get kind of bash, emailed on that stuff. But we'll then we'll step back behind the scenes and kind of divide and conquer and figure out the best way to get stuff done most efficiently. So you need to have really good communication skills. I mean, I would imagine that that would be at the forefront of something, yeah, that you might advise people that are coming into this world, like you got to be able to communicate with a number of different people, not only the athletes, but the team itself. You know, that that's really, that's like the name of the game. And that, yeah, people skills are huge. And I think what you touch on being able to communicate with a different variety of people. So you're going to be communicating with people that aren't necessarily thinking photographically, they're not thinking in that kind of creative mindset that a lot of them have specifically, you know, athletes definitely aren't there. Like, you're just taking a picture like, can you give it to us? You know, yeah,
Michael Der 42:30
how often do you get that request? By the way? How many? How many times do the athletes just say, Hey, can you send that to me? And can you do that? Are you allowed to?
Kyle Zedaker 42:37
All the time Yeah, we have a, we have a folder set up for the guys on on photoshelter. So they can hop on their app, and download stuff, their game photos, because that's, that's another thing too, like, it's really, really important to me that we get them shots of moments that we don't necessarily put in a web gallery, or something like that, or guys that may not necessarily see the field every week, people in the practice squad like, right, there's a lot of people behind the scenes that are responsible for the Super Bowl that we just won. And so like being able to document the team, and the organization as a whole is really, really important to making sure that they have those moments, whether it's with their family, whether it's quality control coach, after the game just wouldn't get much notoriety. It's nice to be on the team. So like, that's our responsibility. After those moments for them too.
Michael Der 43:23
what do you think your ratio is? Is there any other assignments that you have to do that aren't involved with taking photos or managing photos? Like, you know, I often talk about how freelancers maybe create content, maybe 25% of the time. And the other rest of it is like marketing, you know, contracts and legal stuff and all that stuff. How much do you think is concentration? Because I think it's flipped for a team photography, you have to shoot so so much.
Kyle Zedaker 43:49
Yeah, we shoot a ton. I think the the bigger divide is what's the football and what's the non football shooting, right? So it's that the actual shooting football is very, very minimal, right? It's an hour or two practice a couple times a week. And then games, which are one day a week for 16 games for the 20th. You include the preseason, if we have one. So it's like, break that down. It's like we're really not shooting. That's the assumption most important. That's why we're there. But it's it's very minimal. You know, there's a lot of marketing. There's our big asset shoot beginning of the year that we do for for all of our assets this year, which was extra important with our new uniforms. Right.
Kyle Zedaker 44:32
And the free agent additions obviously some number changes with coming on board. Yeah. But there's Yeah, I think the bigger the I think the bigger divide is what what are what is the shooting demands off the field. Whether it's an A normal season, we'd have you know, a bunch of community impact events, a bunch of corporate partnership events, and the holiday season was definitely the most telling this year because it's such a such an amazing time for these guys to use their power.
Kyle Zedaker 45:00
forums and use their voices to help them make a difference in the community. And like Mike Evans always has a, it's called this catch for Christmas event, he always has that where he basically gives a kid a little Christmas tree and they've got tons of gifts and new new shoes and video games. And then he helps their family out.
Kyle Zedaker 45:18
And they give him a dance facility and stuff. And and so it's a really, really cool time. So shooting stuff like that is, is definitely really cool.
Michael Der 45:26
Yeah, there's so much that you're like, you're peeling back the curtain a little bit, which is so awesome. And it actually, it's almost analogous to the game of football in itself. I think there's a stat or where the actual amount of time in a football game, which normally lasts about four hours, right? The actual football that is played is like 12 minutes. Yeah. And it's kind of like the same thing for you guys where it's like, okay, yeah, you need to be able to catch the great action and deliver on that front. But there's so much more content is involved that you you just don't really think of as a casual fan or somebody that's just looking to jump into this.
Kyle Zedaker 46:01
Yeah, and I got a I got an extra glimpse. So I got to kind of peel back another curtain myself this year. I you know, being one of the few that was allowed in the building all season kind of had to flex and be a little bit more adaptable. You know, I was helping helping our video team out.
Kyle Zedaker 46:19
I mean, it was mostly holding reflectors, things that I have done an asset shoots and stuff before but you know, still seeing Yeah, the extra stuff that's going into whether it's a TV spot, or you know, Tommy and Gronky show that we made
Michael Der 46:32
a great segment by the way, you guys that was fantastic. Loved it should have been more segments, but I know that's hard to get.
Kyle Zedaker 46:38
Thank you. Yeah, I can't I can't take any credit for that other than just some funny pictures from behind the scenes like that was all our production and social and I don't know who exactly came up with the idea for the show, but it was like loosely based on the between two ferns, Zach Galifianakis he kind of kind of odd.
Michael Der 46:57
So did you guys create that meme of like gronk just laughing like a goon? Like his normal self like or was that the internet working? its magic.
Kyle Zedaker 47:06
It could have been the internet, but I don't know we had a we had a few Funny, funny moments that we created just from like guys laughing obviously Gronk. Like, I mean, he's, yeah, it's hard not to love that guy. It is so well documented. And he's just the best. But then like, we had a clip of coach balls. His laugh was kind of like, kind of like, maniacal. It's just suddenly it was just a really funny, like, whether it, you know, the social teams picking and choosing the situations where that fits in the best. But yeah, so we really have locker room. And yeah, the coaching staff, the players like the support, like it was just beyond fun. And we're so thankful that they let us, you know, do what we do what we get to do without a lot of inhibiting us from going going places and stuff versus really, he's really understanding of that.
Michael Der 47:52
What does, what does Media Day like? Well, how does that look for you? I mean, one, how much preparation are you doing? I would imagine it's very curated. It's very specific in terms of what they're looking for, how much time you might have with each athlete? And is there a need to make it repeatable, so that if somebody comes in like Leonard fournette, like Antonio brown midway through the season, or later in the season, that you can also get that material for them there without having to recreate this whole new thing from scratch?
Kyle Zedaker 48:25
Yeah, so Media Day this year, we kind of had to honestly being there. We had our the release of our new uniforms. We had a shoot that was in March. So I mean, literally days before quarantine, I think it was like, two or three days before quarantine. Like we're so lucky. We got that shooting. Players are walking around our own facility wearing clothes trying to not have anybody like anybody leak any sort of uniform, anything out to the public. So yeah, that shoot, yeah. And then we had when we signed Tom, and then a little bit later on, we signed gronk. We had shoots that were off site at a league approved site. You know, we had people working with the league on where we could photograph these people. Because we had a lot more people that were within the testing protocols that started a lot more people outside the testing protocols that needed to come help the shoe. Whether it was pipe and drape setup, our lighting assistance, whoever it might be, so we had to, you know, work with the lead to get on these proper, make sure we're doing everything the right way. We had another big one. So Gosh, we're so we kind of have three so we have the uniform shoot Tom and then gronk that we're pretty, pretty close together. And then we had our main asset shoot, which is stuff that's a lot of stuff captured for the broadcast networks. Add another element. They couldn't also be in the building. So like we were capturing assets for multiple outlets, stuff that we were not usually used to filling poses that we were not usually used to asking the guys to do. So they were like, what on the list man, we got to do it capturing a lot of the legacy
Kyle Zedaker 50:00
A lot of those cutouts that you'll see pregame or on the Sunday Night Football promos came from the team photographers or the internal staff for each club. So a lot of a lot of flexing and helping each other out around the league.
Michael Der 50:12
I'm sure you're used to it by now. But I mean, do you still get a little giddy? Do you still get a little bit excited when you see your work posted all over the place? Does that ever get old for you? Does that seem like just old hat? Or is it like, Oh, that's pretty cool.
Kyle Zedaker 50:26
I guess. It kind of just kind of depends on where maybe I don't know, like, it's really cool. And also depends on the photo like, it was something super local. But with a Tampa Bay parenting magazine, I've done a couple covers with them. This year one was a shoot at our D lineman house, William Golson. And that was just really cool. Seeing that come out and then hearing him say, like, hey, that's really cool. Like, we've never really gotten professional Family Photos done. And so like, that was really cool opportunity. And I printed one and it's up in the house. And so there's like, moments like that, where it's like a special moment, and a special image to the family. That makes a big difference. Like I was really cool to hear that he you know, printed it and put it up in his house. But like, it's not a billboard, or it's not like a something that's getting national attention. Something you know, so I mean, seeing, gosh, seeing whatever happened in the Lombardi toss picture, I was like, Sure, let's ride the wave. Let's share everything on my ID story. Like, whatever. I don't know, like, I don't know, I try not to put a lot of stock into social media to because I don't really have like an intention of like, I want to gain followers or something. I'm like, I think this picture is cool. So here you go. Right. Do you like it sweet? It's not? Maybe the tough one. But
Michael Der 50:26
what is your offseason look like? Like what is the creative process for you going through whatever thoughts and ideas that you have maybe with a team or you guys spitting spitballing ideas back and forth? How involved is that? Do you ever get a break?
Kyle Zedaker 51:54
kind of sort of ish, you're gonna break from like the shooting, I guess there's not a ton of shooting. Shooting asks, we just had a really cool event this past weekend, I'll help bump up again. But the we have a we also really great event for high school girls flag football, and we had over gosh, it was almost 50 teams, wow, 1200 athletes. It was like a three day tournament. And it's just growing and growing. And so it's really cool to see. That's awesome. Our organization kind of take the lead from ownership, Mrs. kasowitz. To You know, Bruce, hiring MJ and coach Lowe is our first full time female assistant. So seeing Mike kind of being a part of that growing the game of football and showing that it is for everybody has been really cool.
Michael Der 52:38
How would you advise someone on their first steps towards getting their foot in the door? If somebody has just shot maybe half a dozen football games at their local high school and they say I want to be where Kyle is one day, you know, or somewhere close to that. Maybe it's soccer. Maybe it's from my favorite hockey team or baseball team? Like, what would you advise them like the first actionable steps.
Kyle Zedaker 52:58
So first, actionable steps keep track of local sporting events around you. The biggest misconception is that obviously people want to shoot Super Bowls, they want to shoot NFL sidelines, they want to shoot these big, you know, they get they want to shoot what they see on TV, right? I wanted to do it. That's kind of how we're all we all have those goals and aspirations. But like, realistically, that's just not a thing. It's it's not the first step. And it's not a good first step if you're trying to get off on the right path. Like there's a lot of a lot of demands that come with shooting an NFL game that are so far removed from football, that it's like corporate obligations, marketing, there's fan activations, there's in game presentations, there's in stadium events happening, you know, there's tons and tons and tons of stuff that you have to be able to manage. So shoot your local sports, high school football, swimming, and try not to worry so much about what the actual quality of the image Okay, if you're if your photos grainy, it's grainy, if you make a good photo, and it's grainy, people are going to overlook the graininess for the fact that it's a great image, right. So getting that foundation of shooting down first so that when you are at that higher level, and a lot more problem solving comes into your day to day as far as shooting goes, because there I'll tell you, as soon as you get to any game, something that will be wrong, like you have to think on your feet and problem solve throughout any game day. Having your camera settings and how to shoot and what to look for and stuff just as an afterthought and muscle memory. That's just one less thing that you're gonna have to worry about. And so then you can put your effort into like putting yourself in the situations to make photos because you already know that you can make the photos right. Get to know your camera. nerdy as it sounds, I've done it read the manual. There's so many things you can do these cameras can do that nobody knows about. And maybe that's maybe that's an avenue you figure something out that you didn't know before that you like to do. There's something else you can explore and then maybe you can apply that to sports and there's just so many different avenues. Turn that camera on to an extension of your arm.
Michael Der 55:00
I didn't ask you before but it just reminded me What is your What does your gear kit look like? You know, on game day, what do you normally bring in?
Kyle Zedaker 55:07
Yeah, so we shoot cannon. They hooked us up for the Super Bowl with some kind of specialty lenses a couple extra bodies for you know wide remotes and such, but I guess I need a typical day. And we're shooting player arrivals. Usually, I'll have 2470 and a body and a flash and something moving into pregame I'll usually keep Prime's just locked on my hips. I rarely Tory will hate me. But when I rarely give up the 85 Prime thing is just locked in. It's so fast and I love it and it gives a different look. But you know, again, is that there's that one more? Yeah, the one four I've I've shot with the 1.2 with my uncle. Way back when when I started shooting and the 1.2 I was like Dang, this thing's takes a minute to to grab focus. But the
Michael Der 55:50
Yeah, it's slow, right?
Kyle Zedaker 55:52
Yeah, it's it's but man when you nail it. It's so good. But yeah. pregame I'll usually have primes whether it's an 85 a 24. I'll keep that ultra wide. Our 11 to 24 on for the pregame huddle. Like it's important to determine what the lenses do, right. Like what they're giving you. So pregame like you can have your fish eyes, you can have your ultra wides but like looking at the specifics of them, like the 11 to 24 doesn't really distort verticals, so you don't get kind of wonky like lines and stuff like that. So kind of another little tip, I guess on the side, just kind of dive into what optically happens with each lens in terms of specifically wide lenses and stuff. Because there you get a lot of different, a lot of different looks and there might be something that you like better than others. But game wise, it's usually kind of the standard 2477 82 and then a 400 prime. Tory's still usually rock the 600 prime, which is my favorite football lens, if you have the right, the right light, but
Kyle Zedaker 56:55
given that she was in the ozone most of the season, thankfully, she was on the field the last two games with me.
Kyle Zedaker 57:02
But yeah, the 600 gives that extra reach. So you don't have to move quite as much on still giving you great images that like a four I think it goes down to so still nice and soft backgrounds.
Michael Der 57:13
So you're carrying like three bodies on you during the game.
Kyle Zedaker 57:16
Yeah, I got three three bodies on me in the game, I got my 2417 around my neck. That's kind of the Hail Mary camera, right? Like if you flip it up, and I usually have it set to like five, six or something a little more close down, just
Kyle Zedaker 57:28
kind of if something comes at me. So we've talked about it a little bit before about working with a photo team, but what would you say is maybe the most important quality to have if you're going to work within any team like you know what, what qualities stand out to you. I think it's important to be like the the quick thinking, right? The the thinking on your feet the like the problem solver problem solving, right? Yes, because I mean, the morning of the Super Bowl, I had a cable fail. Thank the Lord the Super Bowl was at home because I just ran across the street and got another cable from our facility.
Kyle Zedaker 58:05
A privilege I'm out would not have had in any other season.
Kyle Zedaker 58:10
But uh, yeah, just being able to think think quickly. Kind of staying level headed. You know, it gets really intense on game days. And, you know, also thick skin, right? Like, yeah, there's a lot of high intensity moments on game day. And like, sometimes I gotta yell and I'm not yelling at you. I'm just yelling because I'm like, really make sure you need to know something. You know, it's not something on your character or anything. I was just like, Oh, this is happening right now and I gotta go this way. And like Tory's gonna go that way. And Mike is gonna go here. So like, it's just a lot of craziness going on. But then also understanding that like, the best quality is that I don't know how to put it but like a team mentality, right?
Kyle Zedaker 58:50
The best learning moment that I had, about what it meant to be part of a photo team was at LSU. It was the Texas a&m game where they carry less miles off the field on their shoulders. Everybody thought he was going to be fired. And my request the second half that I got from Chris was, hey, our radio broadcaster who's been there 30 plus years maybe this absolute voice of LSU sports. His This is his last game and Tiger Stadium, and so we need to get him signing off. And I was like, what you're pulling me off the field to to the radio booth like what are you kidding me? So I was very frustrated, like, obviously want to be on the field. You want those photos, Alaskan carried off, stuff like that. But then, you know, looking back and seeing what that photo of Jim Hawthorne like hugging his broadcast partner for the last time and Tiger Stadium like what that meant to the LSU community. I was like, oh, wow, okay, okay, I get it. So, you know, there's those less than glamorous moments that again can be so so important for who you're shooting for that. It's really important to keep yourself like, level headed and grounded, like okay, that's what my team needs. That's what I got to do. Not necessary.
Kyle Zedaker 1:00:00
Like, this will be great for my Instagram.
Michael Der 1:00:02
Was there a big mistake that you've made? I've always enjoyed this question about, you know, What mistake have you made? throughout the course of your career? Maybe it was early on, maybe it was even before you jumped in that really got you on the right path of like, Okay, I'm going to avoid making that mistake forever. Because it was so bad or anything like that is any horror story that you have?
Kyle Zedaker 1:00:23
Yeah, the one that the one, the one that comes to me is last year, we were in LA, we were playing the Rams. And it was Sue's scoop and score. Mm hmm. So we're like, I think it's the fourth quarter in like locking, basically just a nail in the coffin type play. And so I'm all the way down to the end zone, basically, where he scored right, third down, we just made a stop. It's fourth down, they're going for it. And it's like, I don't even want to say the other 3025 30 yard line or something. It was a ways away. So I'm like, Alright, I'll go get the potential fourth down, stop, give it a little tighter shots and celebration, you know, Pop goes the football. And then Sue scoops it up and runs it all the way back literally crosses the goal line where it was kneeling and sitting. Like maybe 90 seconds before that. And like, does this whole celebration and I'm just like watching this. It was like a highlight on ESPN. And I'm just sitting there. Like, I think I was the only person like, not fully stoked on that sideline. I was standing there like, kidding me like, yeah, we had new photos of that. Oh my gosh, but so there's like positioning, stuff like that where it's like position, but then they're just like technical blunders last year in New Orleans. Sean Murphy bunting. He gave me some grief about this is pretty funny. He he got an interception or as a fumble recovery some some kind of turnover. Yeah, man points down my loans. Because like I told him, Hey, you get turnovers man find us in the end zone, find this points down my lens and gets like the whole defense to run over. I pull my camera up to 2470. I got the wide angle. And all I see is card error one and I'm just like, Oh, no, no, no, no. So like, my car just corrupted in camera. And I turned it like right when I flipped it on. It was like nope, so I was pressing it. No shit, no shutter was happening. But I just had like the moments gone. That was it. And that Yeah. And at that moment, I had never had like the group celebration picture, right? So I was so stoked and fired up and you got your photo alongs like, Oh, I didn't, I didn't get anything. I was all grumpy on the sideline.
Michael Der 1:02:28
But you had some great ones in the Super Bowl.
Kyle Zedaker 1:02:30
Yeah, Tori like that. That's another perfect example of the relationships like that. This year, we had the Showtime cam, the big kind of fan camera that were guys would go to surgery and stuff like that we'd have virtual fans on the screen like they can they can run to NBC or they can run to a team photographer kind of deal. And there were there were a handful of times where our guys just ran straight to Tory or myself so sorry, NBC,
Michael Der 1:02:56
beyond making great photos. What else is required to be a professional in your field?
Kyle Zedaker 1:03:03
um, you got to understand, you got to be organized. First, that is just a blanket statement. But you also have to understand like how to organize when it specifically gets to asset management, and archives and things like that,
Kyle Zedaker 1:03:16
you know, building a keyword database, and we're still in the process of doing an archive transition from our old platform over to move everything fully on to photoshelter. So it's a long, long, long process. I mean, our our whole history of imagery since 1976, is we have to move over now.
Kyle Zedaker 1:03:36
And then part of that process is also updating the metadata and all that stuff. So like that'll probably be going on. Yeah, for a long time.
Michael Der 1:03:43
So you you kind of have to be an editor as well.
Kyle Zedaker 1:03:46
Yeah, I mean, editing, you know, you're you're going to be making selects about what's best photo, what's going to go in the best folder, what's going to be more of a stock image that might be used for a cutout or something later, figuring out ways to to get images to players and fill photo requests, like efficiently. Shooting feels like a very minute portion of my job because there's so much that's required, whether prepping the shoot or close to that, whether it's processing, archiving, if we had to digitize some, some negatives, there's digitizing portion, there's the post work, the retouching and all this kind of stuff, prepping for print, goes back to the people skills and trying to because every departments got different needs, right. And every department has different requirements for those needs or demands for those needs. So being cognizant of, if you see a brand like that is an important thing for for an organization is getting exposure out to our corporate partners. So like if you see it, finding ways to incorporate it successfully into your imagery is very, very important.
Michael Der 1:04:49
So what is your favorite aspect of being a team photographer doing what you do? And then on the flip side, what's the least favorite thing about doing what you do.
Kyle Zedaker 1:05:01
Yeah, I mean, the easy the easy choice is the shooting, right? The easy choices. You know, shooting professional football, like for a living. It's just kind of a crazy sentence still. Yeah, I don't. I'd say my favorite aspect is the cliche whatever you want to say like it's the people that I get to work with. It's the the creatives that I went through this entire season grind with, you know, the people that are like understanding the stress or the excitement or the anxiety or the just like celebration, you know, they understand what it was all like, experienced it with me. That's just, that's my favorite part. That's what I miss the most about. Not everybody being in the office too, is we have a really great little back area with the creatives
Kyle Zedaker 1:05:44
just really good camaraderie, a really great team. Kind of just just great team back there and great people and so like he's favorite part.
Kyle Zedaker 1:05:55
You know, honestly, at least favorite part shooting anything in the summer Florida heat. That's a good one. Like, man, it is like, I'll tell you what, week to my first season. Philadelphia was in town.
Kyle Zedaker 1:06:09
It was like 116 degrees on the field or something with the heat index. Like there were the heat waves coming off the turret or the grass is so hot that it was like disrupting autofocus. Yeah, I was gonna say that our card runners moved from running cards to running water bottles. Just forget the cards. Just bring the water. Yeah, I was like, images will be fine. They're on the cards.
Michael Der 1:06:33
So let's go into some some rapid fire questions here. Oh, snap rapid fire. Here we go. All right. Okay, so outside of Raymond James Stadium, what stadium Do you enjoy photographing in the most?
Kyle Zedaker 1:06:45
Tiger Stadium? LSU. No doubt, Saturday night and Death Valley mammals. There's nothing
Kyle Zedaker 1:06:51
if I mean anybody and anyone that is a sports fan. You know, once things get back to some sense of normalcy. If you can ever get to a huge night game. Sold out Tiger Stadium, there's just nothing like it. There's nothing like it photographically though like from imagery standpoint, it's the Vikings stadium. It's US Bank up in Minneapolis for sure. On a day game. It's so nice like the roof if you get a sunny day, and the sun's nice and overhead. Half of the roof is this kind of like almost softbox material. So you just have this like stadium sized softbox over the top of you and it just looks like a video game. It's Oh, it's so nice. It's like this. It's nice soft shadows. Nothing too harsh across faces. And yeah,
Michael Der 1:07:33
what stadium Do you enjoy photographing in the least like what's the dump stadium? photographically?
Kyle Zedaker 1:07:39
Yeah, least I enjoyed the least experience wise was Missouri. The SEC. Or workroom was like a card table on the slanted piece of concrete in a tunnel. So it was like cold and windy. And then it was also like, isolated to our little area. So yeah,
Kyle Zedaker 1:07:55
photographically, though I don't, I don't know, it's really the ones that are dark. Like the ones that just make my photos grainy. Like, it's just a pet peeve, like when I have to correct my ISO, in terms of like you trying to get some steps in and get your car to go to Detroit, be the away team and have to run up this mass. It's like a Gosh, it's like a quarter of a mile ramp. That's just uphill till the locker rooms. And it's like, I remember we we had to pick six. And my transfer pack wasn't working last season. And I had to go from the opposite end zone, Sprint up this hill, like ingest the car and give it to our social staff and run all the way back to try and shoot to shoot the game again. And it was Yeah, got the cardio in. Every state has got its quirks.
Michael Der 1:08:37
Is there a missed frame?
Kyle Zedaker 1:08:39
Michael Der 1:08:40
Yes. or Miss frame that bothers you the most? Ah,
Kyle Zedaker 1:08:44
ah, here and do this thing. Okay. All right. Yeah, so if you go look back at the Chargers, the Chargers game.
Kyle Zedaker 1:08:52
oj Howard touchdown was like right over the middle. He's like, right down the seam, I say. And he like, you look at the highlight at the very end. He kind of like, like, fans, his arms out and like kind of poses for the camera a little bit. Yeah. 100% that was like, last second camera swap 100% back, focus that on the video boards. So it's very salty. Very salty about that. And then unfortunately, he didn't play the rest of the year. So I was like, no, oh, my god.
Michael Der 1:09:21
There was a great throw from from Tommy to Scottie Miller against Oakland. Yeah. And I know you were in the corner. Yeah, you were right there. Did you get that one there was like a hail mary is probably it was kind of like similar to the Green Bay throw where it's like basically right before? Yep. The end of a quarter or half. I can't remember exactly the scenario. But it was a dime. And I was like, ooh, you were right there.
Kyle Zedaker 1:09:45
Yeah, that was one where the Hail Mary camera worked, actually where I was like, I had my four. And I'm like, oh, they're going from midfield but I was like, drop the floor and kind of like fall off balance. And hopefully you kind of stand up there. But yeah, that was one where the Hail Mary ever worked.
Kyle Zedaker 1:10:00
And then thankfully the celebration kind of pulled towards me further into the corner as well. It's another thing I've done not even know how to practice this other than shooting games and taking reps I guess per se is the midpoint and we're switching. Yes. Such a getting wrapped such a hard thing to get a grip on.
Michael Der 1:10:17
So who's the most photogenic Buccaneer?
Kyle Zedaker 1:10:21
Oh, jpp. Yeah, jpp is like he's so unapologetically himself. And it's the best part about him because he just loves living life. Like he just loves where he's at. And he makes the most of every day and it's so exciting to see because he's just like, a ball of energy. And his he's really willing to do whatever we asked him. I mean, I guess to give you an idea on his energy, like he brought his own speaker, like a big subwoofer speaker to Media Day, like we had a speaker in there kind of setting the Bible of it, you know, but like, he brought like, his own huge speaker from the locker room. Like, it's like, I don't know, we're gonna do it. It's gonna be great. We were playing music from his phone. And now he was super excited to look at photos afterwards, and stuff like that. But
Kyle Zedaker 1:11:06
yeah, it's really hard to pick from this locker and though because like, there's so many guys that are, yeah, that are just so much fun to work with. I mean, you have gronk obviously, Devon's great. lamonta Antwan, the young guys, it's one of Tyler Johnson, Minnesota guys, like so many cool guys that are a lot of fun to work with. jpps he's in a league of his own.
Michael Der 1:11:26
Last one here for you. Yeah, what event? Or outing do you most look forward to rocking your Super Bowl ring to go to Disney World? Where are you gonna rock that thing
Kyle Zedaker 1:11:38
Do I get endorsement? Get paid for that. If I say I'm going to Disney World.
Kyle Zedaker 1:11:47
don't even know. It could be a family outing. It could be with some sort of retreat. You know, you got to flex that somewhere. Yeah, it might be might be a family outing. I don't know. I'm like rebuilding No, me. I try not to like for like the phrase flex. I try to be like super behind the scenes and like not huge on the attention. So like, yeah, be low key about it. Yeah. Fingers crossed. I hope I get one.
Michael Der 1:12:12
Oh, absolutely. well, Kyle, that this was an absolute pleasure, bro. I mean, I'm thrilled to watch your career. Just evolve and take off the way it has, mainly because I think you're a good dude. And it's refreshing to see good people do great things and achieve success. You know, your part of NFL history, you and your team have done a fantastic, fantastic job. It's very inspiring. And so I'm just very grateful that we could jump on this pod and chat. So I appreciate you, man.
Kyle Zedaker 1:12:37
Yeah, man, I appreciate you reaching back out keeping in touch. Since the SSA days, man. It's been fun. It's been that was kind of where I got my another itch to like, get into professional sports. And like, I know we kind of we talked a good, good amount during that workshop. And I've kept in touch. So like, it's really cool to be following your career as well. And looking forward to hearing the pod. Love listening. So yeah, man, appreciate you having me on.
Michael Der 1:13:02
Of course. And I do want to remind everybody where they can find your work. your Instagram is at zedakerkyle. Kyle, are there any last words you'd like to leave our audience any call to action for those listening any words of inspiration?
Kyle Zedaker 1:13:14
No just keep shooting. I mean, I guess I can go back to that workshop where Rob was like you, your goal is to make one portfolio picture every time you shoot. So if you do that, then then you're doing pretty well. So you know, just try and pull something positive out of every single, every single thing you shoot, find that feedback in the right spot. I do need to shout out like my whole team. Like our whole team, the Bucs photo team, the creative team, like you know, the behind the scenes stuff, like we've been saying, there's so many people that have helped me get here and then helped the team get to where we are as an organization. And so like, shout out to everybody. That's been a part of it. So really cool.
Michael Der 1:13:49
That's awesome. Well, that's, you've heard it here, folks. Thank you. that's gonna do it for today. It's going to be my farewell queue. Artrepreneurs. Season One continues. Next week, we're going to be launching new content every Friday. My name is Michael Der thank you to Kyle Zedaker. Once again, thank you to everybody for listening to the pod and tuning in. Hope you learn something hope you came away inspired. Have a great rest of your day and see you guys next week.
Michael Der 1:14:17
Thank you for listening to entrepreneurs. You've made it all the way to the end, and I can't thank you enough for being part of this amazing community. If there's any part of this episode that resonated with you if there's anything that you heard that might inspire you to action, please tag us on Instagram at entrepreneurs pod and let us know your favorite moment of this episode. And for those of you who have questions for the show and would like to hear it featured in a future episode, go to speak pipe comm slash entrepreneurs and record your question that will be answered either by myself or one of my expert guests. It can be about art, business or life. Just go to speak pipe comm slash entrepreneurs and record your question. Thank you again for tuning in and have a great rest of your day.
Team Photographer / Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I am a Tampa-based photographer currently working my 3rd season as the Team Photographer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Originally from Denver, I made my way to LSU where I earned my BFA in Photography while working as a photographer for the athletic department. After graduating, I made my way up to Minnesota where I worked as the Photography Intern for the Minnesota Vikings during the 2016 season. At the conclusion of my internship, I accepted a full-time position at University of Tennessee with the athletic department as their Assistant Photographer. After my experience in Minnesota, I worked hard to make my way back to the NFL and was granted that opportunity by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the 2018 season. I have been fortunate enough to photograph all over the world in places like China, Ireland, France, Italy, Scotland, Hawaii, Japan, and more. Photography has blessed me with countless opportunities in life that I couldn't be more thankful for. Thanks for visiting my site! Please feel free to reach out with any questions.