How Shanna Lockwood ’09 the sports fan became Shanna Lockwood the sports photographer is not a short story. Before she started working for the Glomerata during her undergrad she had never used a camera. Covering her first football game, however, was intoxicating.
“Once the game got going, I loved the adrenaline in the stadium and the challenge of capturing fleeting moments,” said Lockwood. “My actual skills took a bit longer to arrive than the passion, but that immediate love for the atmosphere and the action drove me to push through the learning curve. I still feel the same way every time I step onto a field with a camera.”
Earning her master’s in Technical and Professional Communication in 2011, Lockwood found a job with Southwest Airlines editing the changes to training manuals by hand. It was meticulous work, which she enjoyed, but her workspace—decorated with vintage cameras, lamps and a rug—spoke to dreams of more adventurous vocations. And she couldn’t put the camera down.
The attention that the 2010 National Championship brought to Auburn introduced her to top industry professionals, including Bob Rosato, a legendary photographer at Sports Illustrated who would start his own wire service, USA TODAY Sports Images (USATSIMG).
Lockwood was still working for Southwest when she covered her first assignment, the 2012 LSU–Auburn football game, which meant flying to Alabama Friday after work, then back to Dallas early Sunday morning. In 2014, a role opened at USATSIMG to edit the Sochi Winter Olympic Games; she jumped at the chance.
Since becoming a full-time photographer, Lockwood has amassed a wealth of knowledge that only experience can bring, like avoiding casual bystanders on the sidelines of football games, or finding ways to edit photos on location in the middle of events.
“If you’re out there solo, you bemoan the fact that they had the audacity to score a touchdown while you were away and get back out there as fast as you can,” she said.
In August 2013, a year after joining USA TODAY, Lockwood was named Digital Media Manager, putting her in charge of images for every major sports league in North America. She handles every headshot for every league, “which is a task that never really ends.” Now living in Houston, Lockwood’s schedule is a mix of office work and live action. When the Houston Astros reached the 2017 World Series, she covered first base. Game 5, she says, is still unforgettable.
“It went 10 innings and the Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12; the game lasted five hours and seventeen minutes. To get clearance above the fans when they stood up, I bought a stepladder and stood on the next-to-last rung the entire game.”
Sometimes editing nonstop, away from the action, the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang gave her a chance to work outdoors, calling it “the best event I ever worked.”
“I think it was a little bit of experience, of knowing what to expect, and then also not working 24/7. I got to finally produce the types of pictures I’d received as an editor in the past.” Curling, Ski Jump practice and the whole Olympic village were hers to explore, lugging her bag full of Nikon lenses everywhere. “I also shot a bobsled practice, which was a bucket list item thanks to ‘Cool Runnings’.”
There’s little at USA TODAY that she’s not somehow involved with. In 2018, Lockwood and the USA TODAY NETWORK team were recognized with a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for their project “The Wall,” where she managed and edited photos taken along the southern border. “It was a small role, but I knew they were doing something special and am proud to have a connection to it.”
Lockwood’s advice to would-be photographers? Shoot photos as often as you can, don’t wait for ESPN to come calling and never let fandom get in the way.
“Even when it’s Auburn, my interest in getting solid photos surpasses any team allegiances; I become very focused on that singular goal whenever I’m working an event.”
by Derek Herscovici ’14