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The Jack Beasley Interview – Sports photographer and YouTuber

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Jack Beasley Interview

Andy: [00:00:00] Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones, and this is episode 152 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast. This week, I have another guest after my first interview with Suzanne Hawken last week. If you haven’t listened to Suzanne’s episode yet, you should. In one year, she went from buying her first DSLR to being a full time photographer.

Andy: It’s well worth a listen. At the moment, I’m getting ready to shoot a total eclipse on the 8th of April, which actually is tomorrow. We live a few kilometers north of Lake Ontario, and we’ll get to see the full eclipse. Hopefully, I won’t screw it up. I’ve never shot this before. Pointing my camera at the sun worries me a little bit, but hopefully it’ll work out.

Andy: I’ll post them in the group if they do. Okay, this week’s guest is Jack Beasley. He’s an Arizona sports photographer who has a YouTube [00:01:00] channel where he teaches all aspects of professional sports photography. If you’re thinking of shooting sports, I strongly recommend you give this guy a listen. He’s got a lot of good things to say, not only in this podcast interview, but also loads of videos over on his YouTube channel.

Andy: His YouTube channel has close to 1 million views. It’s not quite there yet. So anyone who’s listening to this podcast is interested in sports photography, get over there and watch all his videos because the more people views videos, he’ll hit the million mark. And that is something special. Now, this recording was actually my second attempt after I messed up the first one.

Andy: So a big thank you to Jack for being so patient with me. He’s a good guy. Oh, and before we do get started, I just want to mention that the recording on my end was. Very subpar I somehow turn my microphone off and was recording on [00:02:00] the laptop microphone, which is not very good. That’s why I sound like I’m down the corridor.

Andy: Anyway, let’s get on with it. Okay, Jack, welcome to the podcast. Good to see you. 

Jack: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And I’m glad to be here. 

Andy: Well, great. So how did you get into photography originally?

Jack: Well, I actually started in high school. My dad got me into it. I got my first camera. And you know, I learned how to go into the dark room.

Jack: I was in a photography class and learned black and white photography and a little bit of color photography back in the day. Again, we were doing it all with chemicals back then. This is the late 80s. Or excuse me, earlier these then in college, I continued it. I was a journalism student and I ended up working for the school newspaper and which gave me a lot of opportunities to photograph division one level college sports just because.

Jack: That at any sport you can imagine. And the really cool thing was the Arizona Cardinals were brand new to Arizona at the [00:03:00] time, you know, an NFL pro team, and they played in the same state stadium as the college football team. So I would go to shoot a college game on a Saturday night and they’d come back the very next day and be able to shoot an NFL pro game, the very same stadium the very next day, which is pretty.

Jack: Pretty great for a 22 year old learning how to do, you know, photography and sports photography. 

Andy: What’s it like shooting the big guys? 

Jack: It’s it’s pretty incredible, you know there, you know, college athletes, football players are very large and professional players are even bigger. And it’s, yeah, it’s just a whole other level of excitement when you’re on a playing field.

Jack: With teams that you’ve grown up watching. So it’s, it’s very excited. It’s very cool for sure. So you got into the college stuff, shooting that. Yeah. And then after college, I continued on with a series of jobs working for different newspapers, either as a full time photographer or as a [00:04:00] stringer ended up back here in Phoenix.

Jack: And, um, but I found myself in a situation where it, it wasn’t paying very good and sports photography or photography in general is very expensive. So I ended up going to the army for 20 years and I didn’t touch a camera for that almost that entire time. And, um, around 2016, I retired from the army after all those years.

Jack: And I had all this gear sitting in my closet and I felt like. Some need to be creative in some way, shape, or form. So I pulled it all out and to my chagrin, I found out that the world had moved on from my days in the early nineties of photography. Everything was digital now. Nobody cared about film, especially for sports.

Jack: And so I had to learn, I had to. Buy new gear. Fortunately, my camera lenses still function on the newer camera bodies, which was great, but the camera bodies [00:05:00] all had to be replaced with digital. And then I had learned digital editing, which is a whole different genre or skillset than being in a dark room with the chemicals for hours at a time.

Jack: So, yeah. 

Andy: Okay. Next one. Why did you start your YouTube channel? 

Jack: So after I had been back into photography and I had got to a certain level where I felt some confidence in my abilities, I was in a lot of these photography forums, which I know you’re aware of, and I would sports photography forums, and I would people tend to ask the same questions over and over again, and I would, you know, jump in there and.

Jack: Answer questions. We try to be helpful. But again, so many of the similar questions. I said, well, heck, I’m just going to do videos and post those. So I don’t have to type all this stuff out every time. So I did it and it was kind of fun and I would do one after the other. And then. I realized, well, if I get to a certain point, I can actually make a little money at this.

Jack: [00:06:00] So I just continued on with it and it just kind of grew over time. It’s been an interesting experience. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had to learn video too at the same time, which I didn’t know anything about when I started. Yeah, so that’s actually helped move me into adding video to my sports photography.

Jack: Now I do sports video too, and then Oh, right. It kind of opened up. A world of possibilities for making money in sports photography 

Andy: and your YouTube channel. I noticed that it’s close to a million views. 

Jack: Yeah, that’s pretty crazy. I, I never expected that. I never expected it blows, still blows me away.

Jack: That’s some of my videos. Some of the old, older ones actually, you know, have over a hundred thousand views. And that just, to me, that’s just mind boggling that that many people would watch a video that I produced, you know? So, and I’m small channel, I’m small potatoes compared to some people. So, how long have you been shooting sports and Do you have tissue anything [00:07:00] else i’ll be considered shooting anything else i think if you added it all up it would probably be around fourteen years you know pulling the whole twenty years in the army out of there but i think sports was a good way to get into it as a side hustle.

Jack: Because there’s always kids playing somewhere, whether it’s rec leagues or clubs or, you know, um, high school or even college levels, there’s somebody’s out playing a sport and I like, I like sports. I like to watch him. I like to play. I like to play him when I was much younger. So I enjoy it. You know, when I got back into photography after my army retirement, I initially went back into weddings.

Jack: I had done those previously, but you know, weddings are very stressful. Um, there’s, there’s a lot to it. There’s money in it for sure. Um, probably much better than sports photography, but the stress level is so intense and. I think with sports photography, you get there, you can actually enjoy the game and [00:08:00] you see what’s going on and predict what’s going to happen and be there at the right place.

Jack: And there’s, there’s some satisfaction to it. And you don’t have all the pressure of unhappy bride or an unhappy bride’s mother or anything like that involved. So you lose a few files. It’s, it’s not the end of the world, but you do that on a wedding, right? It is the end of the world. Yes, it is. It’s very stressful in that regard.

Andy: Yeah. Yeah. All right. So you shoot Nikon, right? 

Jack: Yeah. So I, you know, it’s funny when I was learning in high school, it was a Pentax K 1000. And, um, I think I still have this, the original camera I had on a shelf somewhere, but I would, at the time when I was going to do journalism in the late eighties, everything was Nikon, um, Canon was far behind and Sony didn’t even exist at that time.

Jack: So everybody was shooting Nikon. So that’s what I did. In fact, newsrooms at the time, you know, You could go in and borrow even as a stringer you can go in and borrow their equipment it was just racks of nikon lenses not true anymore [00:09:00] so but you know coming back from a long army career i still had all my nikon gear and no real reason to switch i didn’t see myself selling all my stuff.

Jack: Like I say, most of my gear still worked on the newer bodies, so all the lenses anyway. So yeah, I, I got back into sports photography using a 25 year old 300 2. 8 on my newer Nikon camera and it still worked fine. So I just stuck with it. You know, my philosophy with the camera manufacturers are. There’s the big three, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Canon, and Nikon have such a long history that you can easily find used gear all over the place, you know, and I’ve always been an advocate of by used, you know, good used when you can, as opposed to brand new off the shelf.

Andy: I agree with you on that, even though I just bought a new camera a year ago. So how do you market your business? 

Jack: So [00:10:00] my customers are primarily high school students and their parents and to a certain extent clubs and booster clubs so booster clubs are parents so i go to where they are most of those have facebook groups that’s what parents tend to look at.

Jack: But parents and students tend to look at Instagram. So that’s where I tend to put most of my stuff. Yeah. You know, with the YouTube channel, I also have customers who are photographers. So I get a lot of photographers who follow me on Instagram, not so much on Facebook. I don’t have a huge following, but it’s mostly.

Jack: It’s mostly teams, players and other photographers. Some of the other socials don’t really have worked for me or I’m afraid to dig into it. Like, I’m not quite into reels or TikTok or that business. I’ve been reluctant to dive into that. Maybe I should do it a little bit more, but I’ve been reluctant to dive too deeply [00:11:00] into that.

Andy: There’s only so much time, eh? 

Jack: Yes. And i do do some twitter because i find that some groups and some players are on twitter slash x so i’ll put stuff on there too but um most of my responses come off of instagram so the other way of my market myself is it personal interactions. So I don’t run ads so much, but I will find out, for example, I found out when the local high school football booster club meeting was.

Jack: So I went in and had a conversation with them. I sat through their whole meeting. I figured out who was the club president and who was the club, you know, the secretary. And they just had a conversation with them. Hey, this is me. I do this. And the fact that I. Also photograph now for Maxpreps. It helps me out quite a bit.

Jack: Maxpreps is a here in the United States as a national organization website covers high school sports in my area. At least it is very well known and [00:12:00] parents and players know who Maxpreps is as far as photography. So. It’s well recognized. So when I can go in there and say, I’m a max press photographer.

Jack: Here’s my portfolio. You could look at all my galleries. Here’s my instagram. You could see everything I’ve posted there that helps out quite a bit. But I would say it personal interaction helps out significantly. The other way I market myself is I have a, you know, a website. So that’s got all different genres and options that people can look at.

Andy: What is the what’s the address of your website?

Jack: Jackbeasley. com j a c k b e a s l e y. com. So I’ll, I’ll send people there and it’s got, you know, it shows all my various galleries and examples of my work, both for photo and video. Yeah. So that’s the other way I market myself. 

Andy: Yeah. The first time I saw your work, I was.

Andy: I was blown away by it. It’s very professional. Love it. 

Jack: Thank you very much. Appreciate that. 

Andy: Oh, the big question here. [00:13:00] Raw or JPEG? 

Jack: Raw or JPEG. So that, you know, as you know, this gets a lot of debate and it gets a lot of debate in sports. And the reason being is, so it depends on who you talk to.

Jack: So if you are, you know, a professional media photographer who is on a tight deadline, um, Yeah, they, those folks usually want to shoot JPEG because they just need to crank it out as quickly as possible. They’re not as concerned about, you know, grainy or noisy images. They just need to get it out and upload it as quickly as possible.

Jack: So, for them, JPEG makes a lot of sense. In my case, 90 percent of what I do is not that I do have one client like that. Let’s say 5k, 5, you know, 10 Ks, 2000 runners. Yes. I’m just cranking out photos as quickly as possible. But for most of my, my clients, the people I do work for, I shoot raw. And the reason being is because I’ve just had more control over it.

Jack: If I, [00:14:00] you know, mess up, you know, a little underexposed, a little overexposed, it’s easily corrected. I’ve got. Presets built for just about any lighting condition, day, night, indoors. So if, depending on what it is, I just set that preset and go with it. Yeah. So it just gives you a lot of options. Plus some of the clients I work with especially max press are very concerned about noise.

Jack: And so I’m always looking for the best noise reduction. And these days, the products that are out there, DXO, raw four. I like that. I’ve tried it out recently. The new D noise functions that are in Lightroom and Photoshop are very good, much better than what they used to have. And those only work with raw files.

Jack: So yeah, JPEG, you’re stuck with in camera noise reduction. And to me, it’s just not nearly as good. It used to be good enough, but it’s just not nearly as good as the, the, the new noise reduction software that’s out there these days. So yeah, that’s why I go with raw 

Andy: totally agree with you. [00:15:00] When i used to shoot sports it was for printing on site so we just shot in jpeg because we just don’t have time to do the full process we just corrected them as we could and then work on the one that they wanted to print so.

Jack: Yeah i mean if you’re in a hurry i totally get the jpeg and if it’s something where you know the almost level of quality is not required i totally understand that but if you have the time. I definitely see a raw all right if you could start your business again today what would you do differently so I think when I came back into it it was I was treating it more as a expensive hobby instead of a business you know I had a day job and it’s still a sideline for me I still have a regular day job maybe eventually when I retire from my current position I’ll make it a full time job but I think my, Like I say, I think my biggest problem was I didn’t treat it like a real business.

Jack: I still treat it, [00:16:00] treated it like a hobby. And as a result, I didn’t always look for, you know, what was the best deal? What was the best way to make money? How do I network myself? How do I run my finances better? How do I set up, you know, bank accounts? I didn’t look at all that. I just ran everything as a personal expense.

Jack: But if I, I think if I had just treated it as a business much earlier, I think I would probably be farther along and my business would be producing more, you know, I got, there’s this young man. I know he’s a local guy. He’s in his mid twenties and he blows me away. I’ve done some work with him in the past and he gets so much business and he does it because he networks the hell out of things.

Jack: He is constantly on the socials, talking to various coaches, making comments to various groups. He has a an annual, his own little annual award ceremony for local athletes. And this guy’s only in his like mid twenties and wow, [00:17:00] he does video. He does photo. He’s got enough work where he actually brings in people to cover games that he can’t cover.

Jack: So. My hat’s off to the young man. And I’ve, I’ve, I, I actually started doing some work with, I just wanted to see what he was doing as far as the business, plus it was helping me grow into the video side. So, so I, I think marketing yourself, getting out there, talking to the people is just definitely the way to go to build your business.

Jack: Because a lot of it is just, do they trust you or not? And if you just. You send them a cold email that they may blow you off because they don’t know who you are, but if you actually show up at their, you know, their booster club meeting and talk to them personally, show them a little bit of love and point them in, you know, direction of some of your work and show that you’re capable of doing it.

Jack: I think you’re much better along than, you know, trying to send out cold emails, which I’ve done in the past and didn’t get much response from. And which spot that you shoot is the most lucrative? So [00:18:00] for me, the sport that is most lucrative is american football, the fall is the way I’m absolutely the busiest and that’s true of my youtube channel too, because what I find is I start to pick up business right as the school starts, because what’s happening is.

Jack: Here in the U S they’ve got seven on seven tournaments going on, which then leads into early, um, preseason games. And then we’re talking the high school level here, then into the high school games and most high schools have freshmen JV varsity. So all levels, and they also started for girls, they started doing flag football here in Arizona.

Jack: So that. If you want to call that football, which I guess I should, that doubles, that triples the amount of football that’s available in my area. And all those are possibles, you know, to sell photos for, get booster clubs involved in doing it. So the other thing I like about American [00:19:00] football is, you know, there’s 40 kids on each sideline.

Jack: You know, I mean, try that with tennis, you know, yeah, there’s just, it’s just not there. So two hours of this, two people, right. I mean, even when we go into soccer or the world’s version of football, there’s maybe 12 kids on a silent 13. So it’s not, it’s a quarter to maybe half of what’s on an American football sideline.

Jack: So it is definitely the most lucrative. And I pick up a lot more photo and video assignments. And jobs during the fall than any other time of the year and my viewership on youtube is the greatest in the fall to for the very same reason it seems to be the time of year it is most excited when it comes to sports and then the winter sports basketball not as popular you know and again there’s only.

Jack: So many kids on this on the court for a basketball and then it kind of trails [00:20:00] off after that baseball’s okay for me in the the spring, but definitely the fall is the big time of the year for me. And so that’s the big push. 

Andy: I think we’re done with the questioning I want to thank you for coming on jack and i’ll put a link to your your youtube channel in the show notes and over on my website as well and promote the heck out of you you do some really nice work 

Jack: all right thank you very much.

Andy: Okay, I hope you enjoyed that. Jack’s YouTube channel is an excellent resource for any budding sports photographers out there. I’ll put all of Jack’s links in the show notes and over at. com forward slash one five two. While you’re there, you can support the show and buy me a coffee.

Andy: And if you need help with anything, you can contact me in the Facebook group and through Facebook Messenger. I’m now gonna go outside and try and take some photos of the sun without blinding myself or destroying my camera. I’ll be back next week. [00:21:00] I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.