In 1995, the Atlanta Braves won their third World Series championship in franchise history. The world was a very different place, and in the nineties, photography and camera tech looked very different than they do today. Digital cameras were just making their way to the masses and getting photos from your camera to fans was a cumbersome, multi-step process.
Since 2018, Kevin D. Liles has worked as a team photographer for the Atlanta Braves. This year, technology played a major role in helping him quickly share images of the team’s journey to the top as 2021 World Series Champions.
Now, in a remote world, his photography workflow has adapted as new challenges and opportunities arise for the sports photography industry.
We connected with Kevin to find out the scoop about his creative and collaborative workflow, how things are different when documenting The World Series, and how The Braves share game day moments in real-time.
Read our interview below and make sure to follow @kevindliles on Instagram to see more exciting moments from the 2021 MLB season.
Can you walk us through your step-by-step workflow, from camera to social or stakeholders? What does that creative process look like for you and for the Braves?
It starts with my Sony cameras (A1 and A9s) that have ethernet cables plugged in that allow me to transmit selects directly from them. I have the FTP settings in the cameras to go to a folder on my PhotoShelter account, where a remote editor (in this case, Jeff Curry in St. Louis) pulls them, tones them, and sends them out to the Braves creative team via Slack.
“For the home games of the World Series, I had four photographers, three of which were networked and sending images to separate folders for Jeff to pull from. My remote cameras sent photos to another folder. These cameras are typically set up to transmit everything shot, so Jeff could find the best one when a big play happened.”
Once the creative team gets the images, they use them for social media, player Greenfly accounts, and graphics.
How fast do you get photos to the Braves creative team on game day? What’s their goal there when it comes to speed and sharing photos in real-time?
It’s typically 1-2 minutes from when I shoot it until it’s on the creative team’s phones. The great thing is Jeff is obviously watching the game and knows when a big play happens and is on the lookout for photos immediately. Once I capture an image, I can have it on the server in about 5-10 seconds.
The team’s goal is to get out pertinent content as fast as possible and to prepare graphics for later in the game (like when a pitcher has a great game, for example). Here is an example on social media:
What’s different about photographing for the World Series?
The biggest thing is just how big the event is. Every game is like a Super Bowl. And this is at the end of a 162-game season and two playoff series. The amount of media, both national and international, at the World Series is staggering. During batting practice, the entire warning track, from third base to first base, is filled with TV cameras, lights and reporters sending their dispatches from the Fall Classic.
Because I’m a team photographer, I have the same field position I do during the regular season, which is the first inside spot next to the Braves dugout.
What’s the plan if the internet goes down?
Lots of prayer! No, we have an editor on the creative team who can edit if we need to. MLB provides runners who can ferry the memory cards from the field to editors in the back for us and anyone else there who has onsite editors.
What other tools do you use to speed up your photo workflow and social sharing?
Mainly just PhotoShelter Brands for us and Greenfly for the players.
Related content: The Smart Tech Behind MLB Photo Team’s Social Media Success
Go Behind the Scenes
Earlier this year, we connected with Kevin and the Senior Creative Director of the Braves, Insung Kim, to walk through their quick, collaborative workflow. Watch their conversation with our CEO Andrew Fingerman below:
During their session, Insung outlined their process:
“Kevin is roaming around the ballpark either in the camera well or going to different locations for unique views. From there, he’ll take photos and our social team will ask for them immediately so they can share those images during the game… What he’ll do is transmit those photos from his camera to his phone and do a quick edit in Lightroom mobile, make sure the images look good, then send them out via text to our social team, the creative team, and anyone else in marketing who asks for them.”
By delivering content to the social media team in real time, Kevin ensures that Braves fans can stay up to date with all of the action and see each game’s biggest moments immediately after they happen. He explains, “PhotoShelter becomes the hub where everybody within the Braves organization can access them,” truly seizing the power of a moment whenever it strikes.
Want to relive some of the major league moments from this year’s World Series? Follow @kevindliles to go behind the scenes with a seasoned sports photographer and to see the photos from the Braves’ journey to the top.
The sports photography community is a passionate and supportive bunch. Look through our list of the best baseball photographers to follow on social media, then get inspired for 2022 with these tips for aspiring sports photographers.