Chris Parker 119 East Craig San Antonio, Texas 78212
Brad Mangin is a freelance sports photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He regularly shoots for Sports Illustrated and Major League Baseball Photos, and he has photographed 19 World Series and a number of Super Bowls and NBA Finals so far. We had a chat with Mangin about his life, career, and love for sports photography.
PetaPixel: Can you tell us about yourself and your personal background? Brad Mangin: I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the east bay city of Fremont, where I lived with my mom and dad, and my sister Paula. My dad was a high school basketball coach for 32 years and a former division I basketball player at Pacific in the 1950’s who played against the great Bill Russell teams at USF. Sports were always big in my family. We went to all of my dad’s games, played endless games of basketball in our driveway, and watched tons of sports on television. My favorite sport as a kid was baseball, and my favorite team was the San Francisco Giants because my dad and older sister rooted for them. During those years the local Oakland A’s were winning three consecutive World Series titles in ‘72, ‘73, and ‘74 but I remained loyal to the Giants who were just awful. I am from the generation of kids who went to sleep with their transistor radio under the covers listening to night games (the Giants only televised 20 games a year back then — all road games) and soon my dream was to be a radio play-by-play guy so I could call baseball games and get paid to go to the ballpark every day. Michael Morse celebrates after hitting pinch-hit home run in Game 5 of NLCS, 2014 World Series Champion Giants. Photo by Brad Mangin. How did you first get into photography? In high school my best friend Joe Gosen (who now teaches photojournalism at Western Washington University) talked me into taking a basic photography class in the second semester of my junior year. Joe had taken a class from our photo teacher at Washington High in Fremont, Paul Ficken, and loved it. From day one of the class I was hooked, especially when Joe lent me his Pentax ME-Super to shoot my first roll of Kodak Plus-X black and white film (this was 1982). At the time I was washing dishes, bussing tables, and wearing the mouse costume at Chuck E. Cheese saving money to buy a used car that summer. Instead, I bought a Canon AE-1 Program and dove head first into photography. Beer vendor, Wrigley Field, 2015. Photo by Brad Mangin. What kind of a photography education did you have? During my senior year of high school I worked on the yearbook staff and had many more classes with Mr. Ficken. I learned so much from him. Joe and I both decided we wanted to pursue photojournalism and enrolled at our local junior college, Ohlone in Fremont, in the fall. Our goal was to get an AA degree in photojournalism and then transfer to the legendary PJ program run by Joe Swan at San Jose State. We started at SJSU as juniors in the fall of 1986 and were lucky to be there with a great group of fellow students. We all learned so much from each other, and were lucky to catch the end of Mr. Swan’s career at school and the beginning of Jim McNay’s when he came to campus to run the PJ program in 1987. Wrigley Field, 2015. Photo by Brad Mangin and shot with an iPhone. How did you cut your teeth as a professional photographer? Back then all any of us ever wanted to be were newspaper photographers. Our heroes worked for the local papers in the Bay Area. I interned for the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek in the east bay in 1987 and 1988 and learned from some amazing staff photographers like Dan Rosenstrauch and Jon McNally who are still very good friends or mine. I was hired by one of their smaller papers in the chain when I graduated in 1989 and was thrilled to have a staff job in the Bay Area working nights and weekends while shooting tons of black and white film at high school and Little league games. I attended the second Eddie Adams Workshop in the fall of 1989 and was having a great time at my job. Then I got a huge break. In June of 1990 I was hired by legendary photographer Neil Leifer to be the San Francisco-based staff photographer for The National Sports Daily. The National was a new idea for a daily sports paper in the United States, just like they had all over the world in countries like Germany, Italy, and Spain. Renowned sports writer Frank DeFord left Sports Illustrated to become the editor of the massive New York-based project and Neil was the director of photography. Before I knew it I was covering sporting events all over the place and sending pictures back to our picture desk in New York over analog phone lines with an AP Leafax transmitter that took 30 minutes to send one color picture — and that was state of the art at the time! I was 25 years old shooting the World Series, Super Bowl, and NBA Finals all in the same year. I was having an amazing time and learning every step of the way as I worked with and met some amazing photographers and editors. It was a great run while it lasted but in June of 1991 after I had been at the paper for one year we folded when I was with fellow staffer and good friend Chris Covatta covering Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls as they won their first NBA title over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at The Forum. Our owner, the richest man in Mexico, had put up $100 million to get the paper going. It was supposed to last 5 years. The money was gone in 18 months.