Fresh off the slopes at the Winter X Games in Colorado, photographer Olivia Bush gives us tips on capturing the action of athletes in extreme sports.
Since graduating from Brooks Institute in 2010, Olivia has built her portfolio around sports, beauty and portrait photography. A longtime athlete herself, Olivia’s fun personality and love of exciting sports provides a great “lens” for her work. When not busy shooting, Olivia can be found in Los Angeles, rolling to the beach in her ‘97 blue Explorer with the surf racks on.
Watch a video of some of her recent shots from the first stop of Colorado’s 2012 Winter Dew Tour and from the 2012 Winter X Games:
How and when did you get started with photography? Who inspired you?
My interest in photography started during my sophomore year of high school. I always knew I wanted to be involved in the arts, so I tried out photography and fell in love with the camera and the darkroom. I’m not sure if any one person inspired me to try photography, but it was definitely the encouragement of my parents that helped me become the photographer I am today.
How did you get into extreme sports photography?
I have been into sports my entire life; I grew up swimming, surfing, and playing water polo. But, I really got into photographing action sports and extreme sports after an internship with my good friend and mentor Bo Bridges. He has shot the last 13 years of X Games and has worked with some of the most amazing athletes in the world. Working with him inspired me to purse action sports.
What challenges did you face breaking into the sports photography industry?
I am a very recent college graduate, and through school I made sure to connect with and work for photographers and shoot events that would help further my career after school. Without the help of Bo Bridges I would not have had the connections to shoot the X Games and without the advice of Kevin Zacher, super bad ass snowboard photographer, I would not be where I am right now.
I still have a long, long way to go to be where I want to be. I see a very bright future for myself, but I know there is a lot of work ahead and I look forward to every second of it.
Your photos often capture the personality of the athlete. How do you connect with athletes when they are so focused on the competition?
As with most shooting at a sports competition, it’s really all chance. Waiting to click the shutter just at the perfect moment. At a big competition like the X Games it is almost impossible to get one on one time with all of the athletes so I just try and keep my eye out for the special moments in between the action. Moments that you don’t get to see when you watch an event on television.
Many of your photographs look like you’re in the thick of the action, even underwater sometimes! Are you actually that close to them or do you have specific shooting techniques that give this type of appearance?
I always try and get as close as possible. If you get close you are more likely to have sharp focus, be able to light the scene effectively, and most importantly have a better story to tell! Don’t be afraid to stick your camera where it isn’t supposed to go. That’s what camera insurance is for.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced photographing athletic events?
Access. Whether it be to an athlete or the best place to shoot from. I must have gotten yelled at a thousand times at X Games this summer because I was shooting from somewhere that I wasn’t really allowed to be, but it was the best place to shoot from.
Do you have your own business or do you do freelance work? Can you offer any tips on marketing or branding yourself?
I own my own business and do freelance work. I think the best advice I could give would be to pay someone to make you a nice logo. Your logo and identity is one of the first things people may see before your work so you have to make sure it represents your work well. If you do decide to make your own logo, just please don’t use Comic Sans.
How do you use social media? Any helpful tips to offer for creating and updating a blog, Facebook page, and/or Twitter?
I have all three because you never know where someone will see your work. Update as often as you can. Share other people’s work or things that inspire you, it helps strengthen the creative community. Don’t steal, just be original and be yourself. Never be negative or hateful.