DMB Welcomes Steven Counts

Describe your photography in 3 words?

Energetic. Dynamic. Immersive.

How did you get into photography/sports?

Photography and sports are in my DNA. My Pops introduced me to both before I can even remember; we spent my entire childhood playing and watching sports togther, and taking photos at Detroit Tigers games. He explained aperture, shutter speed, and ISO when I was 9. Pops was always with his 35mm camera to document my athletic career. Taught me about the art of anticipation and staying one mental step ahead of your opponent. Thinking back, I'm not surprised I ended up doing this for a living. 

What was your first shoot as a photographer?

My first non-paid 'shoot' was the 2001 IronMan World Championship games in Kailua-Kona. I shot 3 or 4 rolls of Fujichrome Provia 400F color slides of the triathletes in action and a handful of portraits at the finish line. It was when I projected the work onto a large white wall in my family's living room that I knew how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

What is your creative process?

The access and length of time a subject grants determines much of how I approach a shoot. Working with top professional athletes is fun, but these shoots are usually time restricted. You don't have the luxury of repeating shots over and over until you get the perfect image. It's high pressure, but that's what I love about it. Makes me feel like an athlete again.

Do you have any photographers/artists that inspire you?

The classic portraiture by the late Yousef Karsh is a constant source of inspiration. His use of lighting, poses, and simple backdrops make the images striking. And yet, there's a calm energy in his photos that resonates with me.

Outside of photography, furniture and architecture are a huge source of inspiration. I daydream about one day owning a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright filled with original pieces by Charles and Ray Eames. One day.

What has been one of your favourite shoots to date?

Probably the time I photographed Michael Jordan for Nike. As a kid, I idolised him and obsessed over MJ - I had posters of him tacked to the walls and ceiling, worked minimum wage jobs in high school only to purchased Jordan shoes, amassed a significant card collection and watched every one of his games. His will to win and competitive nature influenced me to be my best. To get the opportunity to shoot him was a moment I'll always remember. 

Click here to view Steven's folio

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A look back at Martin Parr's photo book Small World

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Bruce Gilden gets up close and personal for the Beauty Papers BIG Issue cover story

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