Photographing from the Shadows: Life as an athlete
Article is from 2013, and while a lot has changed since then it is important to celebrate my roots as an artist.
The last five years of my life have been the greatest of my life, because for the last five years I have been living the dream asÂ Montana State University football player. My name is Andy Austin, and I have been living a double life. NCAA rules do not allow NCAA athletes to use their name to represent a business. I did not know this rule until my first photography business “Andy Austin Photography” was shut down. Thus I created an alternate persona, Peak Photography of Montana. What started as a way to pay for a lens or two evolved into a business that would create challenges of its own.
Playing football on it’s own while going to school is a challenge, but add business to the mix was no easy challenge. This challenge was multiplied because I was unable to tell people why I couldn’t always be at certain events or represent my business in any way. But I perceived this as a fun challenge, not an adversity. I also had the unique opportunity to create and help run the phenomenal non-profit Wheels of Change. We collect bicycles in the United States and send them to Africa while creating enterprise by training locals how to run a bike shop. This may sound familiar because it was the feature of the Gameday section of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle earlier this season. You can read that article here: Wheel Route
At this point you may be wondering as to how I captured game shots. Such as the now infamous Gold Rush images (seen on the right). This was a main challenge I faced as I had a lot of requests for game images. To accomplish this image I enlisted the help of my friend Michael Balen, a member of the film crew for MSU. I set my camera up to take a picture every ten seconds and Michael put the camera up on the film platform before the game. I ended up with 1,200 shots which I turned into a timelapse.
This was only one of many challenges I found creative ways to overcome. I also could not sell my images at farmer’s markets and craft fairs becauseÂ it was considered a public appearance by an NCAA athlete. So I would trade prints to friends to have them run the fairs for me. Running a business without being able to represent it myself was an interesting time, but if I was to go back a few years I would do it all over again. The amount I’ve learned about business in this time as well as photography has been life changing.
Yesterday my career as a Bobcat Football player ended, and while it was not how I wanted the season to end I am humbled and grateful to be part one of the best Bobcat Football classes to come through and I am leaving with three rings. More important than the rings is the friendships and experiences I have gained, those are the moments I will always remember. I always dreamed of playing college football and I lived that dream for five years. I am grateful for the amazing fan support I have received.
In conclusion all I can say is thank you. Thank you to the fans, the trainers, the coaches, but most importantly, the players.
I look forward to closing this chapter on my life, and see where the next chapter will take me.
Your photographer (for the first time),