We had the good fortune of connecting with Katelyn Mulcahy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katelyn, how do you think about risk?
One time in college, I was covering a hockey game for the student newspaper. It wasn’t my first, but I was still new to it. From the get-go, covering sports as a woman puts a small spotlight on you. So in combination with being a student, I got a lot of advice thrown my way. I was grateful and eager to learn. Yet at this particular game, another photographer I was seated near told me to never pursue sports photography or the industry in general. He listed off a number of accomplishments, highlighting that he had been published in Sports Illustrated, to show his expertise. So it was difficult hearing that someone who had reached such a pinnacle of success was discouraging me from even attempting to do the same. I’ve heard all the same arguments before, but to hear it from him struck a chord with me. I tried joking with him, asking, “They don’t even pay you enough to eat ramen every day?” He didn’t laugh. The entire tone of the conversation was bleak, and to make matters worse, it felt as though he could already assess that I wasn’t cut out for it. From that game on, I’ve held onto his words as motivation. I embraced taking chances and grabbed hold of every photographic opportunity I could to try and prove him — and my own doubts — wrong. That risks are worth taking, especially if it’s something you love. Taking chances led me down many roads; from the small country club for a golf tournament at Michigan to the Geneva Invitational covering none other than Tiger Woods. From an all-night drive to cover a last-minute game in Maryland to covering the Rams and Chargers at Sofi Stadium. From college baseball and softball doubleheaders to the World Series even. Taking risks brought me to places I couldn’t have imagined with mentors that have shaped my career.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a freelance sports photographer and I enjoy finding elements that bring you a little closer to the game. Details. Expressions. Patterns. A sense of place. It’s what makes me most excited to have a camera in my hand. It’s fun thinking that at any moment, I could capture something that I’m absolutely obsessed with for the rest of the game. Even with those favorite photos, sometimes my creativity doesn’t fire on all cylinders. It’s the one challenge that fuels an underlying sense of impostor syndrome I feel is common among some artists and creatives. I don’t know that it’s something I or anyone particularly overcome, because it’s an everyday battle. It’s gotten better with time, so whenever I feel it creeping back, I try focusing on the best days and the highlights along the way to encourage me to keep going. I tell myself that I’ve made it too far to start doubting myself.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Arts District near Downtown! It was a great place to check out. Everywhere I visited was within walking distance (such a nice thing in LA) and it isn’t too far from the beach or hikes if you have a car. I went to a great restaurant named Manuela, and there were plenty more breweries and bars and restaurants I wanted to try but didn’t have the chance. We were near a park, great restaurants and bars, cool places to walk, and more. I would highly recommend it if you ever have the chance.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Michigan Daily. I met some of my favorite people there and was given countless opportunities to photograph everything under the sun and then some. I wouldn’t trade my experiences there for anything else in the world. Where it all started! Forever proud to be TMD Alumni. The Houston Astros and MLB. Alex and the entire team as well as everyone at MLB took a chance on me and I’m forever grateful. Undoubtedly, Houston was an incubator for my growth. Still consistently inspired by everyone there and the greater photographic community in Houston. Miss you all immensly! Shoot Like Shirley. Grateful to be recognized in her name and the opportunites this afforded me, especially because it meant a chance to attend Sports Shooter Academy. Looking forward to every chance I get to pass on the help and support to other photographers, as Shoot Like Shirley did for me. Sports Shooter Academy. An amazing group of mentors and experts who are dedicated to bettering photographers at every level and igniting their creativity. Every game I go to, “See better. Shoot better.” rings in my head. I can’t wait to return and keep learning. The Doug Pensinger Photography Fund. The generosity and encouragement of DPPF, the mentors, and the board is incredible and only matched by the talented group of people I get to share the honor with. Excited to meet everyone in person to celebrate Doug, his legacy, and the community of camaraderie we already have with each other. Getty Images. It’s an honor to work for and learn from the photographers I’ve idolized my entire life. For every portfolio review, every piece of gear, every minute spent teaching me, speaking to me and building me up; thank you. Thank you for the continued opportunities during such strange times and literally making my dreams come true. My parents. For letting my favorite hobby turn into my career and blindly supporting it, through all the highs and the lows. I’m only where I am now because of your love and faith in me.