posted Monday, March 13, 2023 at 3:45 PM EDT
SportsShooter.com, a popular online resource for sports photographers, has announced that it will shut down this week on March 15.
As reported by PetaPixel, SportsShooter.com’s origins can be traced back to an email newsletter that USA Today photographer Robert Hanashiro began in 1998. Hanashiro shared his thoughts about photojournalism and sports photography with colleagues. The newsletter eventually reached a subscriber list of around 7,000 readers and featured contributions from many pro photographers.
Freelance photographer Brad Mangin began archiving each newsletter issue of Sports Shooter on his personal website, sharing the original content plus new photos and links. That content evolved into the dedicated SportsShooter.com website in 2002, complete with a searchable database.
In a farewell post, Jason Burfield explains that many people were instrumental to growing SportsShooter into the bustling, lively community it became. Robert Hanashiro’s original newsletter was instrumental, of course, along with work by Joe Gosen, Brad Mangin, Grover Sanschagrin, and Burfield himself.
“We built a site that brought people together from all over the world. They interacted and shared ideas. They looked for feedback on their work. They shared great photography. They learned from each other,” Burfield writes. “Over the years we have added features and removed features. We’ve worked to try to stay on top of everything and do our best. But, at the end of the day, this was a passion project for us and not something that would replace our day jobs.”
For many years, SportsShooter.com was among the only places where dedicated, enthusiastic sports photographers could gather to discuss technique, gear, and photos on the web. When the website launched, social media was still a long way off.
Original contributors became less involved over time. Web content and how people consume it has changed. Burfield writes, “It’s time to turn off the lights.” SportsShooter.com has had a “great ride,” adds Burfield.
In a forum post about the website shutting down, many longtime users have offered their thoughts. Photographer Kevin M. Cox writes, “I joined the site on that first day, June 21, 2002, and got a member ID of 73. SportShooter.com was such an awesome resource for me when I was transition from student to professional all those years ago; it really did have a large impact on my career.” Cox found his second newspaper staff job, where he worked for 15 years, via a classified listing on SportsShooter.com.
Photographer Ron Erdrich adds, “It’s been a minute since I contributed to a thread, but it can’t be understated what an invaluable resource this site became. Just look at that photo, I’ve got brown hair.” Erdrich is referring to his profile photo in which he has a head of dense brown hair. Based on his remarks, I’m guessing that’s not the case anymore. Nearly 21 years is a long time, and much has changed during SportsShooter.com’s lifetime.
Dirk Dewachter, an early subscriber to Hanashiro’s original newsletter, remarks that “Throughout the years, I learned from the best and sometimes the most specialized photographers…I am forever grateful for the experience and to this date formed friendships with people who I otherwise never would have met.”
Over the years, the website has included 1.1 million images, nearly 73,000 contest entries, more than 42,800 message threads, over 400,000 message board posts, and 2,645 news articles. To view some selected highlights before the website shuts down, read Burfield’s full announcement.