Interview: Rod Mar

If you attend sporting events in Seattle, chances are you’ve seen photographer Rod Mar roaming the sidelines, cameras and lenses in hand. A former photojournalist with The Seattle Times, Mar is now a freelance photographer whose clients include the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Mariners, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN. Born and raised in Seattle and a graduate of the University of Washington, Mar dreamed of being the first Asian-American to play in the NBA. But his “height and athleticism” weren’t up to par. Nonetheless, he’s found himself with the best seat in the house at sporting events like the Olympic Games, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and the NCAA Final Four. Despite the glamour of those events, Mar has a special affinity for photographing the Special Olympics — another one of his clients. “Special Olympics athletes are my favorites, as they play and compete purely for the joy of sport,” he said. Follow him on Instagram @rodmarphoto

On the job 

Camera Nikon
Camera bagThink Tank Photo
Sports/action lens Nikon 600mm/f4 telephoto
Extras Lip balm (I’m addicted)
Snack Red Vines

Inspiration Board

Photo Movie Stills Database

Photo Movie Stills Database

Musician Miles Davis
Book To Kill a Mockingbird 
Travel Anywhere with sun and a beach.
Movie Lost in Translation. So beautifully photographed. It feels patient and intentional and never forced, things I try to bring to my own work.
Inspired by Pete Carroll. Hands down. He’s so contagiously positive. And at 65, he’s still pushing every day to get better and has a blast doing it.
Quote “Control the controllables.”
Most moving photo “Tank Man,” the photo of the Chinese protestor in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Instagram Art Streiber (@aspictures) is a commercial photographer who is so generous about showing his work and how he achieved it. Brad Mangin (@bmangin) shoots wonderful iPhone photos of sports, especially baseball. Kohjiro Kinno (@kohjiro_kinno) shoots amazing landscapes and waterscapes.

Favorite places

To meet friends Photo workrooms in stadiums and arenas, all across the country.
To relax On the daybed in my home office, with my dog.
To ponder life On the sidelines, just before the snap of the ball, 60,000 people roaring, the play about to begin, my lens trained on the quarterback, and I think to myself, “This is just the coolest moment — how did I ever get here?”

Q&A

Photo courtesy Keith Allison via wikipedia commons

Photo courtesy Keith Allison via wikipedia commons

Around how many photos do you take at a sports event? 3,000-4,000
How long does it take you to pick out your favorite photos? I pretty much know instantly.
Have you ever been hit by a ball? Ichiro nearly killed me with a slicing foul ball that just missed my head.
What’s the first thing you do after a game or sports event? Watch replays of the game on the web or TV so I can see what it actually looked like. From the sidelines, everything is a blur.
What advice do you have for young photographers? Frosty Westering, the longtime football coach at Pacific Lutheran University, used to say, “Make the big time where you are.”

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is the managing editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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