How an NBA Getty Images photographer captures the perfect shot

Photographing the NBA creates timeless, iconic images that become historic. The action is live, fast and unscripted, and there is no replay. The photographer captures competitiveness and intensity or misses them.

What does it take to be a successful basketball photographer?

With the NBA regular season fast approaching, The Athletic spoke with Getty Images photographer Gregory Shamus about capturing the perfect shot.

Do you have to like basketball or the NBA to do your job well? Do you have to know basketball to photograph it?

No, I don’t think you have to love basketball to do the job well. But knowing the inner workings of any sport gives you an edge when it comes to photography. I played basketball and signed a letter of intent to play in college before switching gears and pursuing photography. That’s probably a big reason why I chose sports as my goal. Sometimes I can sense or anticipate what may happen on the court a little easier than someone who may not have played competitive basketball. However, that doesn’t mean for a second that someone who has never played can’t be an amazing photographer of the sport.

What is your background ? Did you specialize in photojournalism? Has a hobby turned into a career?

I played basketball in high school on a really good team and I played in middle school at a small school. Back then, photography was just a hobby. But I changed my mind and chose to attend the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, majoring in fine art photography. Early in my career, I photographed high school sports for a local newspaper. I also served as an assistant team photographer for the Detroit Pistons, which gave me more opportunities to photograph professional sports. I guess my two loves collided and here I am.

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