Whitney Maxfield ’25 started her photography journey at 14 when her mom gifted her a Nikon D5600. At Lewis & Clark, she was a swimmer her freshman year, but had to quit the team. New opportunities as a photographer opened up in the aftermath, leading to her becoming an LC athletics photographer.
“I was like, I have all this time and what am I supposed to do?” Maxfield said. “I was like, I have a camera; I wonder if they need sports photographers.”
Maxfield was put in touch with Director of Athletics Communications Seth Orenseky by her coach and was hired shortly after. According to Maxfield, her first photos were poor quality because she was out of practice, but also needed updated equipment.
“Did volleyball, did one game of basketball and one swim meet and was like, I need a new lens. This sucks,” Maxfield said. “I spent all the money I’d made on a new lens. That’s why the photos are good now, because I spent all of my first paycheck on a new lens. But it was worth it.”
One of Maxfield’s friends, who is a sports photographer at a Division I school, recommended she buy a 85 millimeter lens with a 1.4 or 1.8 aperture, which is what she now uses. Maxfield sought out a deal and found the lens second-hand, but new for $360.
Even though Maxfield is an athletics photographer, she no longer feels part of the sports community at LC.
“I was on a sports team freshman year and after quitting, like the amount of distance that was very quickly put between me and sports was huge,” Maxfield said. “It was nice that photography kind of filled that gap a little bit.”
While she took a photography class in high school, she has not taken any of LC’s photo classes. Originally, Maxfield said she reached out to a photography faculty member to skip the required intro class which focuses on film photography since she had previously worked at a photo lab. Since the faculty member declined her request, Maxfield has taken her photography interests outside of courses as she would like to focus on digital photos.
Maxfield has her opinions about film photography – in fact, she said she hates it,
“I have literally thousands of dollars of gear that I’ve accumulated over the years, like photo equipment,” Maxfield said. “Why would I pay more money to have film stuff? I already have all the digital stuff.”
In her free time, Maxfield does wildlife photography – focusing on birds – which combines her passion for photography with her interests as a biology major. Maxfield describes sports and wildlife photography to be very different from each other.
“I get there are some overlaps with lenses I use,” Maxfield said. “But you need a lot more patience for wildlife photography, whereas sports photography is really fast paced and loud and not peaceful.”
Maxfield hopes to pursue these passions in the future.
“I think in the long run, I mean my biggest dream would be combining the biology and – I want to do conservation work with photography,” Maxfield said. “… Dreaming big there, but I think I want to do photography forever.”
To see more of Maxfield’s sports photos go to @wm_sportsphoto on Instagram, and for wildlife photography see @whitm_photography.