Best known for his intense sports imagery and arresting portraits, Tim Tadder is the man behind award-winning campaigns for global brands such as Adidas, Under Armour, Gatorade, Sony, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Microsoft, Gillette, among many others. We speak to Tadder about his beginnings as a photographer, why he has a soft spot for sports photography, and his dream shot – which, fortunately, is not out of his reach.
How and when did you first develop an interest in photography?
When I was 12-years-old, my father gave me a camera to play around with. I shot photos of my friends skateboarding and people noticed I had an eye for it. I seemed to be a natural at capturing peak action.
How did you get your start in sports photography?
I was an athlete myself and all of my peers were athletes, so my very first subjects were naturally those around me and those that were interested in the same things I was. Later when I became a pro, I was often assigned to shoot football matches and such, so my professional portfolio developed out of that genre.
You’ve worked with many of the sport’s world’s most famous celebrities – is there anyone you particularly love to photograph?
That’s hard to say. I get such a limited window with these people and the time goes so fast – it’s over before I know it. I really enjoy working with people that respect my work and understand what I am trying to accomplish, and ones that collaborate with the process and take part in making the image come to life. The ones that can’t wait to be done, those are the ones I can live without.
How do you feel sports photography differs from other types of Photography?
It’s more about the moment; it happens faster and is often more violent than other forms of photography, where the subjects are often still. We have to place ourselves in the action, not just move around it. We deal with things like speed and timing much more.
I shot NBA All-Star DeAndre Jordan. He is a freak of nature, almost 7 feet tall and strong as a bull. We shot him on street courts in Venice Beach, dunking the basketball. After about 15 minutes, crowds surrounded us and he put on an incredible show for about 2,000 people. People in LA love him, and it was great to see him respond to his fans. The energy at the shoot was awesome and the shots are amazing!
How would you describe your photography style?
I think people call my work hyper real, but I don’t really consider it that way. I just think it’s intense, powerful, and in your face. It’s full of colour, and vividness, I love texture, light and shadow. So really, I am just a big fan of bold imagery, and that’s what I tend to shoot.
Do you have a “dream shot” that you have not yet captured?
The next one I take. My best work is in front of me, and my dream shot is my next opportunity to capture perfection.
Do you have a preferred camera to shoot with?
Not really, I think they are all pretty amazing these days. The tool is not important it is the eye behind it that makes the difference. Nobody ask a great chef what type of stove he uses…
What would you be if not a photographer?
I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Is there a photographer that you admire greatly?
I love so many, from Galen Rowell and Ansel Adams, to Carlos Serroa, Helmut Newton, and Richard Avedon, etc. I am inspired by photography itself regardless of the name behind it. If it moves me and its original, I am inspired.
What inspires you?
Failure. Nothing motivates me more than when something does not work. You have to make mistakes and stand up from them.
What’s next for you?
Day by day, trying to be the best photographer I can be. Taking each assignment as it comes, making the most of every opportunity, and hopefully making that perfect image. Then I want to make a feature film.
Thank you Jimi Stine for help with the post.