As the 6th biggest city in America, Philadelphia has had many claims to fame throughout its history, including the nation’s first hospital, university, daily newspaper, and zoo. And while Philly’s poetic love of the film Rocky has helped to give the city its underdog reputation, this is not exactly true: not only is it notable for having a team in each of the “big 4” (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL), but also has the distinction as one of the few cities whose teams have won each championship. Yet, if we are being honest, the most famous aspect of Philadelphia sports is the passion of its fans. On good days we have viral videos of Philadelphians climbing poles even after the city had them greased to prevent it, on bad days we may remember the courthouse and jail built into old Veteran’s Stadium, affectionately called Eagles Court. In all fairness, however, many of those rowdy fans were not from Philly! Yet when you visit this special city, you’ll see sports happening everywhere, from stadiums to neighborhood parks. And because of this, sports photographers hold a very important role in the city’s culture.
Here at Wonderful Machine, we define sports/fitness photography as anything related to a sport: the athletes, the game itself, the fitness, and the preparation. What additionally broadens this specialty is that it can be on the field, in a studio, candid, or staged. Here are seven of the best Philadelphia sports photographers to bring you to every team and every game.
Brilliant at capturing every aspect of a sport, Steve Boyle’s work shows the true dynamics of being an athlete. In one image he’ll focus on a player’s individual personality and draw out their sense of humor, while in the next he’ll show the responsibility each feels when working together as a team. Beginning as an assistant and lighting tech for Sports Illustrated, Steve embraced freelance work and now boasts a portfolio covering virtually any kind of sport you can think of. And in the world of Philadelphia sports photographers, this diversity is the perfect match for the city of brotherly love. Whether it’s on a field, underwater, in a ring, or on a court, Steve finds the confidence in all of these amazing individuals, from NBA stars to kids in their first year of football. From portraits to action shots to the tense wait within a candid shot before a game, Steve has mastered every corner of sports photography and always hits a home run.
Selected clients include: ESPN the Magazine, Gatorade, Fleishman-Hillard, VML – (Gatorade Endurance, Gatorade #winfromwithin), TBWA/Chiat/Day – (Gatorade REPLAY, Gatorade Everything to Prove), Upshot – (Core Power), Bicycling Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, McMurry/TMG, Lehigh University, University of Pennsylvania, Runner’s World, Theraband, Sportsnet Magazine
As a commercial and editorial photographer, Matt Stanley focuses on showing the stories behind each activity and the preparation it entails. He cares about the quiet moments of getting better at something just as much as the empowerment of being with a team that believes in you. His intimate approach and the faith he earns in his subjects allow us to witness the self-discovery found through hard work and the will to keep going. In his own words:
I’d like to think that the greatest skill I bring to a photo shoot has nothing to do with cameras or lighting, it’s empathy and respect for the people who trust me to tell their stories.
Selected clients include: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, SEIU, Princeton University, Drexel College of Medicine, Lehigh University, Rutgers University, Glenmede Wealth Management, VisitPhilly, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Jewish Federation, Episcopal Community Services, Mercersburg Academy
If there is one word to describe the work of Philadelphia-based Colin Lenton, it is optimism. Whether it’s in his East Passyunk studio or on location with some of the world’s largest agencies, Colin is an expert in finding the best image in any situation. With a knack for conceptual work and studio magic, he often captures scenes showing people seemingly outside of their element finding just the right confidence to not only accept the challenge but enjoy it. Using the poetry of early morning runs, taking 5 in the ring, or the pride of being in uniform, Colin reveals in both color and black & white photography the hope and determination of what might just make a champion!
Selected clients include: AACR, Comcast, Digitas Health, Discovery USA, Dudnyk, Evoke, Facebook, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health, Jefferson Health, HCA, Philadelphia Magazine, Pentagram, Penn Nursing, Runner’s World, SGK, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Villanova, Wharton
Covering a wide variety of sports on almost any conceivable terrain, be it on a field, a track, or even the rugged outdoors of biking, Justin Durner shoots to capture the inspiration of those who push themselves to the edge. What makes his work so incredible is not only the action occurring within the sport but also his focus on the events around it: the controlled preparation before a race, the struggle of being in the middle of an uncertain game, or the sudden adrenaline-fueled impact of winning. Also, most importantly of all, he knows how to get someone at just the right moment when they’re in the air! Using the vivid colors of the outdoors and the intense lighting of indoor games, Justin is an expert at getting the perfect moment that takes you on an athlete’s journey. And if any of these standout Philadelphia sports photographers would know what intensity looks like, it would be Justin — he also does work as a 911 paramedic!
With a strong edge in portrait photography, Mark Tassoni is amazing at capturing the sincere and natural moments within a sport. As he explains,
Whether in the classroom or on the fields, or shooting an event, I am always looking for the candid portrait.
His passion for capturing his subjects within their element shows deeply throughout his work. Nothing is staged, showing emotions as joyous, raw, shocked, and determined as any sport at the height of its action can be. In sports photography, it is critical to capture the action and struggle of what is being faced, yet the feelings that come with it can often be the most powerful part of telling these stories. Bringing a lot of experience in documenting children and teenagers playing sports for their local schools and leagues, Mark is truly special in bringing out the humanity within a sport.
Every deck, even that of Philadelphia sports photographers, needs its wild card — and this brings us to Stevie Chris. A commercial and editorial photographer, Stevie also directs his shoots and is passionate about working within a strong, collaborative team. Often using controlled environments and lighting, his work typically involves a surreal and conceptual flair. Yet Stevie will use any location, from colorfully neon-lit studios to the city that loves you back itself as the backdrop to reveal the mindset of an athlete. Something that makes his indoor work particularly special is his ability to take an athlete off of the field and yet, somehow, bring the feeling of the field into the studio. Through lighting, colors, and timing he takes each second of an athlete’s relationship with their sport down to its essence. But Stevie himself puts it the best:
Whether it is telling a story with a bit of humor or a bit darker and serious. I like impact. I like drama. I like the way things look better after looking through a lens.
Selected clients include: Under Armor, Diadora, Champs Sports, Foot Locker, Footction, Philadelphia Magazine, Condé Nast, bon appetit, Drexel University, and the City of Philadelphia
As the Manager of Photography and Digital Assets for the Philadelphia 76ers, Alex Subers might know a thing or two about the many angles of sports photography. From major events to uniform releases, Alex uses his access to get up close to the best and brightest of Philly sports to capture the camaraderie, the fatigue of travel, the fan adoration, and yet also something very rare: the secret world that only an NBA team can share in the middle of a game. In fact, his work is so up close and personal with some of today’s best-known athletes that a documentary he shot and produced about Ben Simmons earned him an Emmy nod! Using his experience in both commercial and sports photography, Alex sinks every shot to bring out an athlete’s brand and unique personality, while also celebrating the shared dedication of these standout individuals who have devoted their lives to the game and made the court their home.
Selected clients include: The Philadelphia 76ers, Verizon, smartwater, Beats, and Red Bull.
Thriving in a place so celebrated for its diversity, our Philadelphia sports photographers show the countless ways to capture the many actions and feelings that define an amazing game. Take them on and find your part in this city’s rich legacy of triumph, determination, and teamwork.