Every so often, you come across someone and you have to find out what makes them tick.
Brad Mangin is one of those guys.
You see, Mangin does what anyone one of us would love to do…he wakes up and goes to the ballpark. Every day. He’s a sports photographer…and, most often, his office is AT&T Park in San Francisco.
He’s photographed everything from last year’s World Series run by the Giants to the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. In between, he’s been to SuperBowls, All-Star Games and even had some of his work displayed at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Recently…I had the privilege of talking with him.
HOVG: The SuperBowl is this weekend and given your love for the 49ers…you’ve covered your fair share of Championship football. I’ve gotta know, what do you enjoy more…shooting football, baseball or something else?
MANGIN: I enjoy shooting football, and have shot the NFL since my first 49er game back in 1986. I shot the 49ers beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV in New Orleans in 1990 by a score of 55-10. However, baseball is my favorite sport to shoot. I am a baseball guy and over the years I have become more and more appreciative of the game. At this point in my life I usually photograph close to 100 big league hardball games each season, from the first pitch of spring training to the final out of the World Series. When I am not shooting I am watching on television or attending games as a fan in my San Francisco Giants season tickets.
HOVG: Who has been (or is) your favorite athlete to shoot?
MANGIN: This has changed over the years. One of the first ballplayers I loved to shoot was Bo Jackson playing baseball for the Royals in 1990. He was such an incredible athlete and he always made great pictures by diving headlong for line drives in the outfield or breaking a bat over his knee after striking out. The camera loved Bo Jackson. A few years later (1993) Barry Bonds came to the Giants and he pretty much dominated the scene for me over the next 15 years. Being able to document Barry’s career and home run chases was a fun experience. Recently I have been very fortunate to have two terrific young players to shoot in San Francisco. Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey are my two new favorite players to photograph. I shot Lincecum’s MLB debut against the Phillies in May of 2007 and ever since then it has been tough to take a bad picture of him. Posey burst on the scene at AT&T Park last May and was a joy to photograph during his Rookie of the Year season. As he helped lead the Giants to the World Series title I was able to get so many pictures of Posey that I really like. He is very photogenic. He has a beautiful right-handed swing that looks good while shooting him from first or third base. He also is a catcher, and I love photographing catchers. He is involved in so much of the game and is such a terrific young player that he always makes for good pictures.
HOVG: You’re based outside the Bay Area…and, clearly, you’re a San Francisco Giants fan. Who would be on your “Giants Mount Rushmore”?
MANGIN: Because I have been a Giants fan since I was eight-years-old in 1973, I go back quite a ways and always have to remember the guys who meant so much to me as a kid. Therefore, my Giants Mount Rushmore will be personal and not a simple list of All-Stars. To make it more fun, I will only qualify guys who have worn the orange and black since 1973 when I started following the club. I would have to start with two of my favorites from my childhood: Jack Clark and John “The Count” Montefusco. Next I have to add Barry Bonds. My fourth and final guy to be placed up there would have to be Will Clark. Will was the first Giants superstar I had the chance to shoot in 1987 and has always been a fan-favorite.
HOVG: Speaking of Barry Bonds, do you have any good Bonds stories? I’ve been to San Francisco and it seems like everyone has something to say about the man.
MANGIN: I do not really have any good Bonds stories. I am not a portrait guy so I never had to deal with him one-on-one, thus I never had any bad experiences with him. I just remember how exciting it was every time he came to the plate. I could care less about the whole steroids thing. Pretty much everyone did them, along with greenies, red juice and everything else. Bonds created excitement wherever he went doing whatever he did, and I was glad to have the chance to document his long and historic journey in San Francisco.
HOVG: Last fall…the Ken Burns documentary “Baseball” was continued on PBS with “The Tenth Inning”. Many of your pictures made it into the final cut. How did that partnership between you and Burns come about?
MANGIN: I was contacted by a producer from Florentine Films named Michael Welt a few years ago. Michael was doing research trying to find original photographs of players and events that took place during the steroid era. I have an extensive online archive that is searchable on my website containing over 44,000 images. Michael searched through my archive and found many pictures that fit into their documentary. It was a huge honor to have some of my work in the film, so I took a trip to New York last July to view a private screening of the film that I was invited to. What a thrill it was seeing the “Ken Burns Effect” performed on some of my images in one of his films! I had the chance to meet Burns in a party afterward and he actually knew my name from the pictures. What a great night that was.
HOVG: Quickly…what’s in the camera bag? What are the essentials?
MANGIN: I am not a huge gear freak. There are certain essentials you need to be a sports photographer and not of it is cheap. I shoot with Canon Mark IV digital camera bodies and Canon lenses ranging everywhere from a 15mm super wide angle lens to an 800mm lens, with everything in between. I try not to get hung up on camera equipment, but to do the job I do there are certain things you must have.
HOVG: Lastly, baseball season is right around the corner…what do you have cooking until then?
MANGIN: Actually I have my first book coming out soon. It will be announced in the coming days. I am teaming with a writer friend of mine Brian Murphy to do a book for the SF Giants entitled “Worth the Wait.” It is a 128-page picture book full of my images from the 2010 World Series season. This is the Giants OFFICIAL book of their season.
You can find out more about “Worth the Wait” by clicking HERE. And if you’ve got the time (and, honestly, you should figure out way to make the time), peruse Brad Mangin’s extensive photo archives over at his personal website. The stuff is amazing!
Brad asked that I share this picture with you all. Enjoy!