David Liam Kyle Photography
As a team photographer for the Cleveland Cavaliers since 1991, David Liam Kyle is one sharp
shooter. His sports images have graced the covers of Sports Illustrated and many other
publications. As a former athlete himself, David is used to being close to the action. His
images show the perspective of a talented photographer as well as a true sports fan.
Where were you born and raised? Where have you settled?
I am proud to say I was born, raised and live in Cleveland, Ohio.
What type of photography do you shoot most often? What type of photography are you
most passionate about shooting?
Most of my work is sports-related, but I’ve been slowly transitioning into nature and
portrait photography. I don’t take on projects or assignments that I’m not passionate
about. For example, I’ve been doing photography for Western Reserve Land Conservancy,
a land trust in our region. The organization’s mission – preserving land for parks,
farms and greenways – is one I believe in. My passion for basketball led me to create
my classic hoop collection, which has shots of old outdoor rims and backboards. I can
spend up to an hour photographing a hoop, just to get what I want.
How long have you been a shutter releaser? What led you to this profession?
I have been a professional photographer since 1981. I actually became interested in photography
while I was playing professional basketball in the Netherlands. Our team was in England for the
Europe Cup and a teammate and photo enthusiast, Jim Woudstra, asked me to go with him to photograph
the bustling city of London at night. I was hooked. When we got back to the Netherlands, I purchased
a rangefinder camera. Jim and I, along with our wives, began touring different towns, documenting
Holland with our images.
How has Zenfolio helped your business?
Zenfolio is so easy to use and helps me promote my work in a professional and timely manner. The
photography business is one of the few professions where clients look at your actual work, not your
resume, first. Ever hear the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, Zenfolio helps my
pictures speak for me.
Tell us about your work flow, what editing program do you use?
I shoot all my sports and photojournalism assignments in JPEG. For nature and portraits, I use both
JPEG and RAW. I create the folders by date and subject and work up the selects in Photoshop.
Do you have brand loyalty for Canon, Nikon or something completely different?
I used Nikon for the first 13 years of my career. I loved the Nikon FM2 and F3 cameras and their sharp
lenses. I switched to Canon when they came out with their auto focus system. I used Canon for several
years before going back to Nikon. I love the overall image quality and sharpness of Nikon. The shadow
detail is unbelievable, and controls are quick and easy to use without looking at the camera – something
that is very important in the sports and photojournalism fields.
What is the best part of being a professional photographer?
Wow. What’s not to like? I think the best part is getting the opportunity to shoot and document all
kinds of different events, and meeting all kinds of interesting people.
Are your photography skills self-taught or were you classically trained?
I am self-taught. The only official training I had was when I went to a Sports Photography workshop run
by Rich Clarkson at the Summer Olympic Festival in 1989. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.
Rich gave lessons and advice that I still use every day. Bill Eppridge was also one of the instructors
and was very influential in my approach and passion for photography. I tried to learn everything I could.
I am proud to say I received the “Super Shooter Award” at the end of the week. I also met some lifelong
What advice would you give a new photographer just starting out?
Try and learn something new every day. Listen to your clients or editor, and make sure you understand what
they are looking for in a photograph before you go on assignment. Your photos must fit the story or concept.
Be creative. Do not take on a professional assignment that you can’t handle. Clients are paying you for
results, not excuses.
What was your first published work?
I can’t remember that far back. In fact I really can’t remember what I did last week! Seriously, I do remember
my first assignment and published work for Sports Illustrated. I was assigned to cover the USC football game
at Notre Dame along with two other staff photographers. I was driving to the game thinking about my late
Irish father, who was a huge Notre Dame football fan. If he were still alive, I knew he would be bragging
to all his buddies at the corner pub that I was shooting the game. It drizzled the entire way and throughout
the day. I arrived early and hung out underneath the stands hours before the game to keep dry. During the wait,
I started talking to an older gentleman, a stadium worker, who reminded me a little of my late father. We
spoke for a while and he gave me some encouraging words. As we said our goodbyes, he pulled out a pack of
unfiltered cigarettes for a smoke. They were Camels – the same brand my Dad smoked. I knew then it was going
to be a good shoot. When the next issue of Sports Illustrated arrived in the mail, it was on the anniversary
of the passing of my Dad. SI ran three or four of my pictures.
What inspires you as a photographer? Or who?
I get inspiration from a lot of people and places: the courage of soldiers; the caregivers in hospitals;
teachers; the strength of friends and relatives faith when they face adversity and illness; and my own
faith in God. Photographically, I am always trying to get a better shot and to continue to improve. I
love photographing dramatic skies, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I also enjoy finding unusual things
in common subjects – ripples in the water, patterns in tree bark, reflections in a pond. I expect a lot
of myself, but I admit that I am energized by the compliments I receive from my clients.
If you could live on one food item alone, what would you choose?
CHOCOLATE MILK!!! There is nothing like an ice cold glass of chocolate milk at the end of the day.
What is the very first camera you ever owned?
The first camera I ever owned was a Ricoh 35ZF rangefinder that I purchased in a small camera shop in
Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands.
Tell us something about yourself that we would never guess.
I don't know why, but people are always surprised when I tell them I don't drink.
What piece of equipment or doohickey do you have with you on every shoot?
I never go anywhere without my car keys. I find a car very useful in getting to assignments and always
check my coat pocket for the keys before I close the trunk. Seriously, I always have extra CompactFlash
cards and extra batteries. Just in case.
Do you have any final words of wisdom on being a first class shooter?
Thanks for considering me a first-class shooter. I guess my advice would be to be a first-class person
and everything will usually fall into place. No matter what your field, set goals for yourself and do
every task to the best of your abilities and with enthusiasm. Believe in God and believe in yourself.