By Ed Odeven
TOKYO (July 11, 2013) — To me, learning details about how a journalist approaches the job is never boring.

And every photographer I’ve met and worked with has had some interesting tidbit to share or work-related quirks that are unique in some way.

Pat Shannahan, a fellow Arizona State University graduate and Arizona Republic photographer, recently helped shed some light on his approach to the job.

Which magazines and websites do you believe consistently produce the best quality sports photos?

For sports photos, beyond the obvious, I really enjoy Not only are the forums great for learning new techniques but you get exposed to a lot of great work.

Have you subconsciously or knowingly studied paintings as a means to influence how you crop photos? Or even how you approach taking photos?

A few years ago I was in Rome touring a gallery that has a large collection of Caravaggio paintings and I realized that my favorite type of natural light was just what he was putting into his paintings. It was a wonderful mix of window light and contrast. I think if you look at a lot of photos and Carvaggio paintings you will see some similarities. When it come to composition, photography and painting have a lot in common.

In the most basic terms, what makes a sports photo timeless?

My mentor, a longtime Arizona Republic photojournalist named Randy Reid, always said photography came down to three things: good composition, emotion, and moment. Any one can make a nice photo. If you have two, you have a great photo. If you nail all three, you’ve hot a real winner.

Which sport(s) do you consider the most consistently interesting to see photos from? And which sport(s) are the most fun to, well, snap away with a camera in your hand?

I prefer shooting sports that let you see the athletes faces. Football has some great action and is fun to shoot but the helmet covers the faces. I think you can tell a lot from athletes’ facial expressions. That probably why I prefer to shoot sports like soccer, diving, rugby, and basketball.

Has the instant availability of viewing digital photos changed photography in a positive way?

Technology has changed photography a lot, but that’s nothing new. That’s the history of photography. In the Civil War days photographers had to know how to be chemists and make their own emulsion and developer. Over time technology made the film better and the cameras smaller and accessible to more people.

To make it as a pro, you have to be flexible and continue to evolve. I never thought I would be shooting video but now that makes up more than half of what I do.

What’s the best advice you can give to an aspiring sports photographer to become skilled in the craft?

The best advice I can give an aspiring photographer is to get out and shoot. Photography is something you learn by doing. The learning doesn’t stop once you put the camera down. Take the time to look critically at all of your photos from an assignment. Sometimes you can learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

Visit Shannahan’s home page: