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Check Out Annie Schutz’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie Schutz. 

Hi Annie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I started getting into photography/videography my sophomore year of college, I originally was studying things like music and theatre, but I wasn’t truly enjoying myself and actually ended up switching my major 11 times trying to figure out what I wanted. While going through that process, I ended up taking a media production class; we had to work as camera operators for the athletic department, and for the first time in the 2 years I was in school, I felt like I found something I loved. 

After that, I moved to Oregon, transferred to Portland State University, and switched my major to Film Studies. I worked as a camera operator the whole time I was in school, and when I bought my first camera, I found a love for sports photography. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, I lost my job as a camera operator because there were obviously no games to film, so I started linking up with local athletes to shoot their closed practices, pickup games, and gym sessions. By the time live events started back up, I had made enough connections to photograph games with the Portland Trailblazers, Portland Thorns, and Timbers, and university games all up and down the coast. 

I graduated in 2021 and continued to freelance full-time, and when 2022 rolled around, I was fortunate enough to get a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a Digital Content Producer, and so here I am! 

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
A little bit of both. There have definitely been roadblocks, a lot of nos because I never seem (still to this day) to have enough experience for certain people to hire me. But I truly believe I can make anything happen for me; I always have; you can’t doubt yourself when you’re a freelancer; you have to be assertive and confident. There’s not a lot of queer black women doing this kind of media with pro teams/leagues, so I definitely feel like I’m constantly having to convince people that I belong. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I specialize in sport and live music photography. I’ve been working in sports for the past 4 years, and I just recently picked up concert and festival photography up this year. Most people probably know me for my personal work with athletes and teams, but I definitely feel like I’m starting to solidify my work in the music community as well. 

I feel like my editing style sets me apart from others; I always say I’m an editor first; I’ve always had a knack for it. My goal is always that when people see something of mine, they can tell it’s me immediately, without seeing a username or anything. 

I’m really proud of how fast I’ve grown as a creator, artist, and businesswoman. I’ve never played a sport, couldn’t tell you any rules, had never even been to a game before I started shooting them. I always thought that would hold me back, but I believe it’s given me an advantage. I like to shoot for people who maybe aren’t the biggest sports fans, people who are thinking about going to a basketball for the first time; I want my photo to be the thing that convinces them, 

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
My parents! I credit my drive, confidence, and motivation to the fact that they never told me no. Never told me there was something I couldn’t do or I wouldn’t be good it, they’ve only ever supported and encouraged me. I’m their biggest fan, and they are mine. 

I also got to credit Polly Irungu and the community she created, Black Women Photographers. She’s gotten me so many opportunities, resources, and advice. That kind of support is what keeps me going. 

I have a lot of great friends and supporters who have encouraged me since day 1; I’m really thankful for the circle I have. 

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