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In love and basketball, a photographer finds both aren’t so different

“if you concentrate at all times and pick up on the non-verbal language between the coaches, players, and refs, you can stay one step ahead.”

Juggling a full-time wedding photography business as well as following Stephen Curry up and down the court, night after night, might be tough assignment for some. Not for photographer Jack Arent: He is well known around NBA circles for photographing big moments at Oracle Arena (the home of the Golden State Warriors) and other stadiums, like the All-Star Game on February 12-14, in Toronto, Canada. But when he isn’t courtside, Arent is shooting wedding couples’ first kisses. The two might seem disparate, but as Arent tells it, they are similar.

Capturing images of peak emotion is a skill that Arent believes he has been blessed with. Having grown up as a child of deaf adults, he was raised in a visual environment that was very different in contrast to most people of the hearing world. Since sign language is so visually based and was his primary way of communicating, he has developed a unique ability to easily foresee and capture special moments. Because of this skill, he has spent much of his career working courtside with the Warriors and the NBA, capturing history-making moments in the sport, like the Warriors winning the 2015 NBA Finals.

We recently caught up with Arent between Warrior games, and asked him how he makes it all work.

Digital Trends: How did you get started shooting NBA games?

Jack Arent: I assisted an NBA photographer as their image tech uploading and captioning game night images, which eventually lead to working for the league.

How do you balance NBA games with your wedding business? 

I usually photograph the same large events put on by the NBA every year, such as the upcoming All-Star Game, and I keep my wedding bookings free during those major events. I tend to have NBA scheduling conflicts from time to time when I photograph weddings during the basketball season because the majority of my NBA assignments are booked within one month, while the majority of my weddings are booked outside of one year. I have a couple reliable seasoned associate photographers who know how important all of my assignments are and their support means a lot to me.

What are some of the biggest challenges and obstacles to shooting a game? 

“Shooting sports has taught me to be calm and confident in all of my photography work.”

Ref butts, they run up and down the baseline and block my shot from time to time! Seriously, just keeping your head in the game, it’s not a problem per se, but if you concentrate at all times and pick up on the non-verbal language between the coaches, players, and refs, you can stay one step ahead and capture great emotional moments. I enjoy following the non-verbal language during a game. I am fluent in American sign language and as a result I can read the lips of the players fairly well.

Do you move around the area to get different perspectives? 

Not really, usually you are assigned to a specific position on the floor or overhead. Although during tournaments or minor league NBA games I have more freedom to wander around the arena and locker rooms.

What are some of your favorite arenas to shoot in and why?

I haven’t worked in more than a dozen arenas; we usually stay with our home team and pool our images to the visiting team. I have to say I love my home arena, “Roaracle Arena” (Oracle Arena in Oakland, California). It’s incredibly loud and our fans know the game of basketball very well…they’re great! AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play, is impressive for shooting football as well.

After the dream season Golden State had last year, how even more amazing has this year been so far? 

It’s been a complete circus since becoming world champions again. Oracle has been sold out for over 150 games and counting, and it seems we’re breaking NBA records every few weeks. It’s been a fun ride and an honor to have the responsibility of capturing such a great group of players who all get along so well – it shows on the court.

How is it shooting a player of Steph Curry’s caliber? 

Honestly, it’s beyond amazing, it’s unreal. As a sports photographer you become a little jaded to the amazing feats athletes demonstrate on the court after a decade of shooting. Steph Curry often makes me say “no way” into my camera while I am shooting the game. Steph’s game is not fair and I sometimes feel bad for the opponent guarding him; and at the same time I love it! All of us who have worked for the Warriors since Steph’s rookie year are so proud of his character and his growth on the court.

What photo gear do you use and why is it good for shooting basketball?

I shoot with Canon gear because I am programed for the direction the zoom ring extends the lens. I couldn’t jump ship to Nikon even if I wanted to – I would miss spontaneous shot opportunities – and this old dog isn’t learning new tricks.

What are some sports photography tips you could share?

Shooting sports will make you better in other areas of photography. One of the reasons why I like photographing weddings is because I can easily focus on creating magical images on the dance floor among many distractions. The more accurate you are physically changing settings or taking multiple peak-actions pictures in a row during a sporting event, the better you will be when photographing a wedding. Shooting sports has taught me to be calm and confident in all of my photography work, so get out there and shoot a game every so often, you’ll be better for it.