Jared Wickerham is a Pittsburgh-based sports photographer who discovered photography after a skateboarding accident when he was just 15 years old. With no choice to but to rely on crutches for six weeks, Jared missed the excitement of skating and was determined to find a way back to the skate park, even if he had to watch from the bench. That's when he had an idea. Maybe he couldn't skate, but at least he could capture the action while he recovered. After sharing his first roll of film with his friends, a credible skateboarding company caught wind of his work and showcased one of images front and center on their site. Jared was officially hooked. Little did he know this new hobby would ultimately become his career.
With his thirst for more leading the way, Jared went on to get his degree in Photojournalism at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Today, as a full-time sports photographer, his long list of clients includes Getty Images, The New York Times, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, DirecTV, USA Today, The Pittsburgh Pirates, Coca-Cola, Macy's, Pittsburgh 250, Binghampton University, Hockey News, The University of Pittsburgh, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Not too shabby for a 23 year-old.
The road from Jared's skateboarding accident to shooting for some of the country's most well respected sports organizations was a result of his hard work ethic, dedication, and networking. While in college, he took advantage of opportunities to meet industry leaders, especially those pros in the sports photography world. One evening, Jared waited two hours at an NPPA Northern Short Course workshop just to shake hands with Al Bello, the Chief Sports Photography at Getty Images. After the introduction and exchange of business cards, Jared - still an impressionable college student - was shocked when he received a call from Al the next morning. Al wanted him to apply for Getty's summer internship.
Getting the spot a year later, Jared's internship with Getty introduced him to countless photographers and industry leaders. "Getty really became a 2nd family to me," Jared says. "And because of the relationships I made while I was there, they're now one of my biggest clients." Through his work with Getty, Jared was also introduced to folks at The New York Times sports section and grabbed the chance to shoot for them when they needed an additional photographer for the AFC Championship in 2010. Now The New York Times is one of Jared's largest reoccurring clients.
Today, as a full-time photographer working for big-name clients, Jared uses PhotoShelter to guarantee his business will run smoothly and hiccup-free. Shooting also for larger corporate clients like Macy's, Jared takes advantage of PhotoShelter's client-delivery tools when he needs to reach these bigger clients fast. "I wouldn't be able to operate without PhotoShelter," Jared says. "Often times, corporate clients like Macy's will have separate people on their team who handle social media, PR, and marketing, all of whom need to access my photos quickly. Especially when a client takes their social media seriously, people often need to see these photos even just an hour after I've taken them. Thanks to PhotoShelter, when I'm done editing I can easily upload my images and create an invite-only gallery and send that link to everyone who needs to see it. PhotoShelter lets me connect with clients efficiently and satisfy their needs, even when there's a real sense of urgency."
Jared also uses PhotoShelter to brand his photo business by integrating a customized Wordpress blog seamlessly with his PhotoShelter archive. "I used to have a separate URL for my PhotoShelter archive, my main website, and my blog. It was so confusing," Jared says. "But now, because of the flexibility I have with PhotoShelter, I've brought all three links together seamlessly. And having my website attached to my blog has really helped improve my ranking on search engines."
Today, a majority of Jared's work is for Pittsburgh sports teams including the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I really enjoy shooting for teams like the Pirates," Jared says. "They do a lot of community activities like their annual off-season Winter Caravan where they ride through town and sign autographs at a local grocery store. One time, one of the Pirates' pitchers was walking around the cereal isle and started signing cereal boxes. I shot it all. It's moments like that I love. Sometimes people don't realize that there's a whole side of sports photography that can take place off the field."
With experience under his belt, one of Jared's favorite moments so far has been the opportunity to shoot the Maloof Money Cup, a skateboarding championship based in New York City. "It was such an incredible experience to go back and shoot the sport that introduced me to photography," Jared says. "Finally meeting those guys and shooting their portraits was a blast."
So what's next for Jared? Like any good business-focused photographer, he's always on the lookout for different ways to meet and experience new opportunities. "Throughout the year, I make a point to take notes on missed opportunities," Jared says. "For example, if I find out about an event too late, I'll make a note of when and where it occurred and who I can connect with so I can be sure to get involved next year. I also look to my friends who are mentors and photographers for different ideas on what to take on next."
Jared also has a few resolutions in 2012 to take on more personal projects and shoot more portraits of athletes. And later this February, Jared is off to Lake Placid to shoot the World Cup of Bob Sledding - a sport unlike anything he's captured before. Needless to say, he's excited.
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