Brad Deel (@braddeel_sports) is a Southwest Virginia-based sports portrait and game day photographer and videographer. His dramatic sports portrait work has recently blown up on TikTok and Instagram, and for good reason…these are not your dad’s sports photos. Deel’s creative eye takes it to a whole other level. “My main focus as far as photography goes is the dramatic sports photos,” he says. “I try to just give the kids something that nobody else does and to be as unique as I possibly can. I've been doing that for almost three years.” We connected with him to learn more about how he started posting his work online and how it’s gained popularity across platforms. (Note: You can enter the 2022 Sony Vlog Challenge on YouTube, Instagram AND TikTok for your chance to win a Sony ZV-E10 camera. Learn more about how to enter here.)
These are not your dad’s sports photos…Brad Deel’s dramatic sports photography has caught attention across social media, and for good reason.
When Deel first began posting his work on Instagram about a year ago, he started simply by posting only images. Then he started creating videos of his dramatic sports portrait sessions, which found some popularity on Instagram. But the real magic happened when he began posting them on TikTok, something Deel wasn’t sure about at first.
“People kept asking me to join TikTok, and about a month ago, reluctantly, I did,” he explains. “And one of my first posts on there was at 4.6 million views. Then that was picked up by @SportsCenterNext and they reached out to me about posting it and then that hit another 7 million views. And my phone has not stopped with requests from anything and everyone you can possibly imagine from anywhere and everywhere in the entire country.”
Deel uses the Sony Alpha 7R IV for his work, noting how incredible the Real-time Eye AF is for getting those sharp action sports portraits. He also has a variety of Sony lenses – the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master, Sony 85mm f/1.8 and Sony 50mm f/1.4 – in his kit. “It’s such fast glass and the focusing is great. All of the images are sharp. They are Sony lenses and so they are designed so well to work with the Sony camera and it’s well worth the investment.”
Deel’s success on these platforms proves that photographers have plenty of room to inspire others and can also benefit from sharing their work in this space. “Not until recently did I ever video my photo shoots, I just did the photos,” he says. I started doing a little bit of the behind the scenes and those seemed really, really popular so we decided to keep it going and it took off. So now we film virtually everything and I'm definitely going to keep doing that.” His videos on both Instagram and TikTok continue to attract millions of views.
His videos on both Instagram and TikTok continue to attract millions of views, and his Instagram has grown from 2500 followers to 34K in the past three weeks. Follow him on TikTok @braddeel and Instagram @braddeel_sports to keep up with his work.