Olympus Visionary

August 28, 2018  •  3 Comments

I'm so excited to officially be a member of the Olympus Visionary program!!

As many of you know, I've been an Olympus fan for some time, professionally switching to Olympus at the end of 2016 with the introduction of the E-M1 Mark II.

I first purchased an Olympus system at the end of 2015 as a hobby camera (if you don't count some years of using my mom's point-and-shoot film Olympus camera as a kid) because I wanted something lighter and more inconspicuous for traveling, backpacking and general life adventures.

It's first big adventure was backpacking on the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast of Hawaii. I wouldn't have been able to justify the weight of a full frame DSLR but I didn't want to only have my iPhone for such epic terrain, even though it was more of a personal trip than a working trip.

As I became more familiar with the system, I would use the E-M5 Mark II as my third-body wide angle for football games so that I didn't have the weight of DSLR around my neck all game for the 1 or 2 photos I might make. While all the other photographers captured close ups of Colin Kaepernick leading the National Anthem kneel, I was able to get that photo, but also step back and get a wide angle that better told the story in one frame.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ersNFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ersOct 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (58), quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and free safety Eric Reid (35) kneel as members of the military hold the flag during the national anthem before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It was never really intended to be my only system for pro sports (though I wasn't a fan of having two camera systems, bodies, lenses, batteries, etc) but that all changed when they introduced the E-M1 Mark II and 300mm f/4 (600mm equivalent). I was able to borrow that set up for San Francisco 49ers vs New England Patriots and told not to bother with putting rain gear on it. That alone could have sold me on the system. (Think Tank Photo makes fantastic rain gear with their Hydrophobia Rain Covers that I used for YEARS, but even well designed rain gear is a pain.) The OM-D E-M1 Mark II performed spectacularly! 

NFL: New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ersNFL: New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ersNov 20, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) tries to hold off New England Patriots strong safety Patrick Chung (23) and defensive end Trey Flowers (98) before being sacked during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

I immediately went all in and ordered two E-M1 Mark II bodies and added the 300mm f/4 to my arsenal and used them to cover the Sugar Bowl where my contract is both game action and events. Walking to Jackson Square in the rain to cover the fan fest pep rallies, sending from built in wi-fi, sneaking into top floors of hotels to get cool angle of the Super Dome, walking to the cemetery in the pouring rain to grab an eerie graveyard photo, then easily being able to stash the camera in a bag and hit the bars... not everything needs to be documented ;) Not to say photography had ceased to be fun, but this made my job easier on my body, faster turn around to my clients, and on the whole motivated me to really have fun with photography both professionally and personally.

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners v Auburn TigersAllstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners v Auburn TigersJanuary 2, 2017; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Samaje Perine (32) escapes defensive back Stephen Roberts (14) during the second half of the Allstate Sugar Bowl football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Oklahoma Sooners defeated the Auburn Tigers 35-19. Photo: Kelley L Cox -KLC fotos for the Allstate Sugar Bowl

A year in and I knew I wouldn't be turning back.

Since Olympus had never really made a truly capable sports camera before, they didn't have any sports photographers using their system and I caught their eye. There's something to be said for social media, but there is more to be said for friend's/colleagues who make introductions and advocate for you, and so many people outside and within Olympus advocated for me from the initial introduction to being selected a member of Visionary program (Thank you!). While this may seem sudden because I am not a Pulitzer prize winner like some of the other Visionaries, or a long time coming because I've been promoting Olympus without any association for years now, this has been in the works for a while. Last September even hosting a workshop for the Olympus reps to meet and interact. For them to see what I was about, and me to see what they were about as a company and as individuals setting the culture of a company. I had such a blast then and continued having fun as I conducted some Olympus sponsored workshops in San Diego and Seattle. I am thrilled to be joining with a more official status.

Photo by S Ray Acevedo

Being a part of the program will help me reach more photographers through Olympus sponsored workshops and expos where I can provide tangible feedback and sometimes hands-on shooting opportunities. It will help me create resources and connect with photographers. And it will give me access to test out gear and share my feedback both as a review for photographers and as suggestions for Olympus. A key focus on their program is feedback. There are so many products out there where when you use them, you quickly realize that the designers are not also photographers. They make a product with incredible tech specs but then it's missing a critical feature and you think "hmmm they must have not asked many working photographers before introducing this". An uproar from the community causes the feature to be added on a next generation camera. That's not Olympus. They aren't trying to push a new camera every year making older models lose value but rather putting a lot of research and development in the products they create and adding features via firmware so that when a new model is introduced you know it's a substantial update in the actual hardware not just the software. The minimalist/environmentalist in me really respects this.

When I first switched to mirrorless, people thought I was making a strange decision because we had all been ingrained with "DSLR is best". Now it's pretty much consensus that mirrorless is the future and some big name manufacturers are scrambling to introduce their version of mirrorless so the market doesn't leave them behind. I'm excited to be a part of that future with Olympus who committed to mirrorless a decade (!!!) ago and look forward to having a larger platform as we all take our photography to the next level!

Changes to expect from me:

Blog Posts

I won't be blogging every event I cover (I tried that, it's exhausting!) but I will try to share some highlights and insights.

More active on social media

Instagram: No longer just kelleyfeet but also a kelleylcox instagram where I'll post photos which are hopefully fun and informative

Twitter: Sharing short-form insights, links I find interesting, a pulse on the photography community, and hopefully avoiding twitter trolls.

Facebook: Somewhere in between. If anyone wants to offer me social media suggestions, I'm all ears

Olympus Dedicated Pages

My Gear - With links to order if you want me to get a little kick-back for your purchases :)

FAQ - I get so many messages of "are you really using Olympus for your pro work?" I'll save you a click, the answer is a resounding yes!

Workshops

I will announce them on my blog but you can also check my Workshops Page for a calendar. Most will be hosted by Olympus in partnership with a local camera store (support your local camera store!) but since I also speak at the Peter Read Miller workshops and others, keep an eye out for those as well.

Resources

I'll be creating some content for Olympus Learn Center to share with their community. Look for some how-to guides, whether it is theory based like finding a good angle, or more tangible guides of exact camera settings I suggest for various situations.

Feedback

Please send me your feedback! What do you hope to see this Olympus Visionary turn into for me? I only have value to the program if I am useful to other photographers. How can I better serve you?


Comments

Ken Schallenberg(non-registered)
A little late....but congrats on your new Visionary status.
Awesome to see someone using these great cameras, in such a high prsssure, demanding environment.
Well done!
Jeffrey McPheeters(non-registered)
Welcome! I was so thrilled to learn you were now a Visionary and look forward to reading your posts, suggestions, tips, etc.,. As a free-lance photographer brought in for so many different kinds of photography, including sports, it’s one area that I’ve wanted Olympus to increase their profile with, similar to what’s been happening with action wildlife photography. But it’s still a unique genre with challenges that really test the photographer as well as the gear. So selfishly I was excited to see your appointment because I and others like myself want to learn from you and this will hopefully give you a broader platform form which to encourage and educate a growing action shooter user base with Olympus. I know I could pester you with questions to no end. Cheers!
Jerome Terry(non-registered)
Great to see a micro 43rds Photographer that is shooting sports. Love your images.
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I am a sports photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I primarily photograph sports (action, events, and portraits) ... and my feet.

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