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https://alphauniverseglobal.media.zestyio.com/Alpha-Universe-Profile-Spotlight-Kenneth-Murphy-3.be110857376e1c1dc5afaa178864837f.JPG
Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/5000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400.

Alpha Profile Spotlight: How This Pro Sports Photographer Captures Peak Moments & Why He Switched To Sony

The sports photography on Kenneth Murphy's Alpha Universe Profile showcases his ability to capture the moments of peak action that occur during various sporting events. The batter making contact with the ball, the receiver making the catch – all of these moments require a quick reaction and the right equipment to capture. In this Alpha Profile Spotlight piece we learn why Murphy made the switch to the Sony Alpha system and how he uses it to get those game-defining sports shots.

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G. 1/2500-sec., f/6.3, ISO 1600

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 4000

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 4000

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/5000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master + 1.4XTC. 1/2500-sec., f/4, ISO 400

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master + 1.4XTC. 1/2500-sec., f/4, ISO 1250

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 2000

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 800

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2500-sec., f/2.8, ISO 1250

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1600-sec., f/2.8, ISO 6400

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.8, ISO 3200

Photographer Kenneth Murphy has been shooting professional sports for the last 20 years. When it comes to capturing those peak moments, he needs accuracy and speed, and he’s found that with his switch to the Sony Alpha system. “The technology that is packed into the full frame bodies and pro level glass is something I dreamed about years ago but never imagined was possible,” he says. We saw his Alpha Universe Profile and connected with him to learn more about his experience shooting sports with Sony Alpha. Read more below and create your own Alpha Universe Profile HERE for a chance to be featured on AlphaUniverse.com.

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800

See how pro sports photographer Kenneth Murphy captures peak action and why he switched to Sony Alpha cameras and Sony lenses for all the sports he covers.

Career Snapshot

I have always been interested in photography from a young age. My grandmother bought me a Kodak film camera and I always had it in my hands, even shooting sports when I was in middle school and early high school. I then continued shooting sports in high school with my first film SLR and absolutely loved capturing peak moments. Fast forward about 10 years, I saw a business on fire in the town where I lived and worked. I pulled close to it, grabbed my SLR and proceeded to document the firefight. The Killeen Daily Herald photo editor just happened to be there and approached me. He asked if I was working for someone and I said no. He then went on to ask me if I wanted to be a stringer for this medium daily paper, and so I started to work for them about five days a week, mostly shooting local high school sports, minor league baseball in Round Rock and college sports. 

I loved it just as much as I did when I was a young teen shooting with my Kodak film camera. When Nikon introduced the D1 at an affordable price, I jumped on it. I was one of the first photojournalists in Texas to own one. Before that, there were a few large organizations who had invested in the Kodak digital cameras but they were quite an investment at $25k. The daily I was shooting for was apprehensive about digital but soon fell in love with the tech as the world soon followed suit. I now shoot for MaxPreps and my own business brand. I try to shoot 4-5 days per week. I won the national image of the year in 2019-2020 using a Sony Alpha 9 II and the Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G for MaxPreps/CBS Digital Sports. It was a softball image of a catcher diving for a foul ball. It was selected by and voted on from our network of 550 professional shooters nationwide.

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G. 1/2500-sec., f/6.3, ISO 1600

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G. 1/2500-sec., f/6.3, ISO 1600

Why Sports Photography?

As a former high school and college athlete, photojournalism keeps me near sports and on the sidelines. I love capturing that ‘moment.’ I am not a photographer who likes to shoot artistic sports moments, I want to capture all the sweat flying, grimaces on faces and peak action shots.  My keepers are only the images in which I can count eyelashes. If not, delete. That is important for me. The challenging aspect of shooting sports these days is access to the event especially since the pandemic has taken over all aspects of life the last year or so.  Sometimes, again related to the pandemic, positioning can really challenge your typical vantage point and force one to be creative.  

Why I Switched To Sony

In the Spring of 2019, I was shooting a high school baseball playoff game in North Texas. Before the game started, I was talking with one of the team photographers. He said he used to own the Nikon D500 but switched to the Sony Alpha 9 and never looked back. I was like, what are you talking about guy? He offered to let me take it for a short whirl. I thought it was nice, but how much can you gain after using a piece of gear for one minute? He told all the life-changing aspects of the Alpha 9 and it piqued my interest into mirrorless. I had tried the Nikon Z6 but it just could not perform for action even matched with pro Nikon glass. I took the plunge during the Summer of 2019, sold all my Nikon gear and bought a Sony Alpha 9 and some G Master glass. The proverbial rest is history. 

As soon as firmware V5 hit the Alpha 9, game on! The ability to track a focus point across the sensor, have it lock on and be accurate was game changing. The what you see is what you get in the EVF makes life much simpler and one less thing to worry about. The ability to instantly review your images in the EVF without ever removing your eye was wonderful. Oh, did I mention the 20 FPS…Wow! I was capturing moments that were simply not possible before, routinely. Sony imaging took over the mirrorless world at that moment but would soon lead and drag all camera makers to mirrorless and leave film behind.

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1600-sec., f/2.8, ISO 6400

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/1.8, ISO 3200

My Go-To Sony Cameras & Lenses

Until recently, I used two Sony Alpha 9 II cameras. I now have a new baby in the house, the unbelievable Alpha 1. I use the grip with all my cameras, and my most-used lens is the king of the mountain, the Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. This is by the far the lightest, fastest and sharpest 400mm lens I have ever used – and I have used all of them. The dual linear AF motors are blazing fast and as accurate as it gets. I use this beauty mostly for football, baseball, softball and soccer. 

Not far behind that or equal to the 400mm, just a different use, is the Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master. I use this for many things including sports portraits, basketball and volleyball. It’s always tack sharp! The sharpness combined with the autofocus speed and creamy bokeh is just heavenly. The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master is again a superb zoom lens that I use on a routine basis. I use it mostly for up-close shots with the action right on top of me and after game celebrations and team shots. I also own the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. It never lets me down. It is a lens I use for my day games where available light is present. It is fast and the zoom range is about perfect for softball and baseball when I don’t bring the 400mm. Sometimes I utilize it with my second camera body behind the 400mm. I also utilize the 1.4x matched with the 400 when shooting soccer. It is about perfect since a soccer field is so large and the players are constantly a mile away. 

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800

All of this equipment makes my job so much easier. I know my partner Sony is with me during these sports excursions and the equipment never lets me down. It is always up for any tasks, produces dead-on tack sharp images and is the most reliable equipment I have ever owned. It is always a joy to walk into an event with my Sony Alpha gear on my head and equipment by my side. I take pride in carrying this brand of professional photo equipment.

What Photography & The Alpha Family Means To Me

I simply love capturing light. No matter if under crappy high school stadium lights or shooting championship Texas games under the best of conditions. The ability to be on the sidelines and capturing that ‘moment’ is something I could have only dreamed of as a young person. Shooting perfectly composed sharp images and knowing that regardless, if the parent and/or athlete appreciates how well the image is technically, that they will have a pro-level image for a lifetime brings satisfaction.

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 2000

Photo by Kenneth Murphy. Sony α9 II. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 2000

Being part of a community in which other photographers at some point took a leap of faith into mirrorless and the Sony brand is something that makes me feel special. I believe that we as Sony users are at the forefront of imaging technology. This means that we as a community are sharing in the making of digital imaging history. No other manufacturer has come so far, so fast with respect to a new form of imaging in mirrorless. Like I tell other photographer friends who shoot other brands, until you try Sony professional mirrorless, you’re shooting old, yesterday technology. I tell them how it was when I stepped out and left SLR’s behind in 1999 and moved into the DSLR age with the D1. I had person after person tell me I had just wasted a pile of money. The rest is history. I know the following, Sony continues to make history! (Just see the Alpha 1.)

See more of Kenneth Murphy’s work on his Alpha Universe Profile.

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