About David

Bio

David Liam Kyle has captured awe-inspiring images of nature, people, news, professional sports, and more in a career spanning more than three decades. David has eighteen years of experience as a newspaper photojournalist and has photographed more 700 assignments for Sports Illustrated, covering the action of the NBA, NFL, MLB, PGA, and the NCAA, as well as portraits and feature stories. David is also the official photographer of the Cleveland Cavaliers and has photographed over 1500 NBA games. His images are regularly displayed on ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, and several of his works have been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and SPORT Magazine. Kyle’s work has also appeared in the “Year in Pictures” editions of Sports Illustrated and Slam Magazine.

Interview

Where is your home base? 

Cleveland, Ohio

What is your photography genre/specialty? 

Professional Sports, Photojournalism, and Fine Art

What is your most memorable image and why?

My most memorable image is not about the photograph, but where and how it was published. It was my first cover photo on Sports Illustrated. Michael Jordan had just announced his retirement from the Chicago Bulls in 1993, and I had received a call from the basketball photo editor at Sports Illustrated. He asked me if I had any shots of Michael walking away, or something similar. I immediately said yes. The shot was from a Bulls vs Cavaliers game. During a stop in the action, Jordan was holding the basketball while speaking to the referee. The other players were down court as Jordan started to walk away from me and the referee. My color transparency image of Michael Jordan was rushed via FedEx to the magazine, and I got a call from the Sports Illustrated photo editor saying "You got the cover!"

Why did you become a photographer? What drives you to capture images and has this changed over time?

Growing up I always enjoyed sketching and art. When I purchased my first camera I fell in love with the challenge of capturing real moments and compositional elements in the world instead of creating them on a piece of paper. I still have the same drive to always improve my skills and get better images. I also enjoy going somewhere new and meeting new people.

Do you have any personal rituals to help you get ready for a shoot?         

I make sure all my gear is ready and packed the night before my assignments. Batteries fully charged, lenses clean, Lexar cards packed, etc. I also visualize the assignments in my mind for creative ideas and mentally prepare for things that may go wrong with the shoot. I also arrive early for my assignments.

What are the top 5 things you can’t live without while on a shoot?

The essential gear for shooting NBA games is obviously my camera gear. I also have ethernet cables, custom channeled pocket wizards, gaffer tape, seat cushion and earplugs. My images are sent directly to the NBA photo desk as I am shooting, hence the importance of the ethernet cables. I have tape for keeping the ethernet cables connected and safely out of the way of fans. I shoot with strobes and need high-speed sync to help stop the action with pocket wizards. The seat keeps me comfortable sitting on the floor for several hours, and since each game has the excitement and noise level of a rock concert, the earplugs help protect my ears. They also help me to concentrate better during the game.

How do you regain your inspiration if you hit a creative rut?

Shooting a variety of assignments helps keep me out of creative ruts. I also like to try different angles and perspective by using a variety of lenses.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your journey as a photographer?

The biggest influence on me as a photographer comes from my days as a successful athlete. I learned the meaning of teamwork, setting goals, practice and hard work. I am always trying to improve my skills.

If you could share just one tip with aspiring photographers, what would it be?

Think for yourself when creating photos. If you want to stand out from the other photographers, do something different, within reason.

What are the top three Zenfolio features essential to helping you run your business?

My favorite Zenfolio features are the professional display of my work, the easy client access and a safe photo library of my extra images. Clients ask me to send them photos to their Dropbox. I tell them I have something better and set up a private client link for them to view and download images on my Zenfolio website. While they are there they always look at my website and see what else I have to offer.

If you could second shoot with any photographer (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

I would like to second shoot with Ansel Adams. It would be fun just hanging out and discussing his vision while photographing in a relaxing setting of nature. It would also be interesting seeing him work his magic on prints in the darkroom.

How has the photography world changed since you turned pro?

Having been a pro shooter for more than three decades I have experienced the color transparency and black and white film era—all while shooting with manual cameras and lenses. Your exposures had to be on the money. An overexposed or underexposed color transparency went in the trash can. Today's digital cameras are very forgiving, and fake developing mistakes or exposure imperfections are becoming popular. When I started shooting for Sports Illustrated we shot everything on color transparency and had to rush to the nearest airport to ship bags of film to the photo desk in New York to make deadlines. Now as a contract photographer for the NBA, my cameras are connected to ethernet lines, and my images are instantly transmitted to the photo desk as they are shot without any delay.

What one piece of software besides Zenfolio do you consider to be vital in your workflow?

The more I use, the more I am amazed by DxO OpticsPro. Their digital imaging technology and prime noise reduction is the best.