S.I.gh The End of Sports Illustrated

February 02, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

It was announced that Sports Illustrated is likely to lay off the entire staff. END OF AN ERA!

I still remember how excited I was when I had my first photo published in Sports Illustrated back in 2011.

I still remember how excited I was when KLC fotos had our first photo (not taken by me) published in Sports Illustrated.

It was a credit line that legitimized your work.

Sports Illustrated was not only the magazine for sports writing content, but it was the magazine for the best sports photography taken by the best sports photographers. I looked to the magazine each week to be inspired. To see what made the "double truck", SI version of centerfold. And in a pre-social media era, the credit lines made legends out of the best photographers whether they were staffers or other credit lines you came to recognize.

Early in my career, I assisted Peter Read Miller at games and I assisted John McDonough on a portrait session when they were Sports Illustrated staff photographers. Being able to watch them work left me inspired. As with any community, there are superstars, and in the niche sports photography community Sports Illustrated staffers were the KINGS.

I marveled at the idea that I was at a place in my career where I was covering major events, and these legends would say "Hi, Kelley" and occasionally "nice picture from xyx" thinking "oh my goodness. They know my name! They know my work. The like my work!?"

For a moment, it seemed like Player's Tribune was the next Sports Illustrated. A platform that allowed player's to tell their own stories (through ghostwriters and great PR teams) it felt groundbreaking to hear player's be so vulnerable on a major platform and see photos of them off the court/field that humanized them. These were the next-gen of sports photography, portraits, not just action.

But now it seems, "we" have no patience for long form content. Every site is click/ad driven. Every player has a "brand". I no longer know where to look for inspiration from my fellow colleagues. Reverting back to just checking imagn/Getty/AP websites.

I will not make any claims or even aspirations to have kreadivs be the next Sports Illustrated. But I do hope it can at least be the space where we feel inspired and learn from each other.

How About You?

Were you an avid Sports Illustrated consumer?

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I don't want to wax on too much about Sports Illustrated. I wouldn't argue it was diverse in it's staff or ideas, even less so as it transitioned to AI writers. And the swimsuit edition (though it made strides in recent years) certainly had it's own issues. (get it... issues)  But I do want to recognize the good people and the incredible content (before content was common language) that was created.


Find an old SI cover and see if you can recreate it.


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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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