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Cronkite graduate Brady Klain, who has covered more than 200 athletic games and has helped reestablish the Cronkite Sports Network photo department, was recently named winner of the 2020 Greg Crowder Memorial Photojournalism Award for his sports photography.
Klain, a sports journalism major from Carmel, Indiana, will receive $1,000. His winning photos will be exhibited on the third floor of the Cronkite School for a year beginning in the fall. Second place went to Harrison Zhang from Irvine, California, and honorable mention went to Marlee Smith of Englewood, Colorado. Both will be juniors in the fall.
Like the best professionals, Klain has tremendous enthusiasm for his work: “Sports photography is one of the coolest things,” he said. “To see a video of a player jumping over another player is one thing, but to freeze that millisecond in time and see how high off the ground that player actually is, is the kind of thing that drives me to sports photography.”
Cronkite selects one student photographer each year to receive the award named for Greg Crowder, a 1980 Arizona State graduate and longtime photojournalist at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. After Crowder’s 2005 death, his parents established the award and endowment to honor his life and spirit. The first award was presented in 2010. Crowder Award winners have gone on to work at leading news organizations around the country.
“Greg provides a model for our students of what a photojournalist can accomplish,” said Kristin Gilger, the Cronkite School’s Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism. “His legacy lives on in this award, which, each year, provides encouragement and recognition to young people who want to follow him into the profession.”
Judges for the 2020 contest were Con Keyes, former photo editor for the Los Angeles Times, and Mark Morris, an independent visual consultant and former director of photography at The Sacramento Bee. Morris wrote: “Brady Klain’s dynamic images combine the technical and creative elements of visual storytelling to capture the viewer’s imagination. His sense of timing, composition and the aesthetics of light allow him to reveal the power and grace of athletic accomplishment and are deserving of the Crowder Award.”
Keyes credits the Cronkite School with providing its photography students so many opportunities to shoot major sporting events, working alongside professional photographers.
Klain became interested in photography his senior year in high school and shot photos of his high school’s football team practices, but he never shot a game until he came to Cronkite. As a freshman at Cronkite, Klain covered an ASU football game against Northern Arizona University and persuaded ASU’s Blaze Radio to run his photos on the station’s website. He has now covered more than 200 games, from high school sports to the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also covered the 2020 College Football Playoff championship game in New Orleans and the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis where he took a photo of actor Kevin Hart that went viral.
As a Cronkite freshman, Klain became friends with fellow student photographer Nicholas Badders and the two reactivated the photo department at the Walter Cronkite Sports Network, a student organization. Over the next 2 ½ years they grew the staff to over 10 photographers covering every Sun Devil sports event.
“We were able to learn from each other along the way,” Klain said.
Both became award-winning Cronkite photographers. Badders won the Crowder photojournalism award in 2019.
Klain credits Cronkite photography instructor Joe Camporeale with helping him learn the ins and outs of the photography industry and serving as a mentor. Additionally, Klain said, Cronkite faculty members Brett Kurland, Paola Boivin and Lori Todd “helped me grow beyond just shooting the action in front of me and had me focus more on the story around the game.”
Klain is seeking a career as a sports reporter or anchor, but still plans to do freelance photography. He has shot for Getty Images, ESPN, USA Today, The Arizona Republic, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy 500, MLB.com, the Sun Devil Athletics pages and almost every Cronkite student media publication.
“Sports is one of the few places where you are not in control of the environment right in front of you,” Klain said. “You can’t know where the referee will move or when he’s going to walk right in front of your lens, or when a player will be celebrating a touchdown and completely trampling you and break your camera lens—and, yes, all that has happened to me.”
Klain will be honored during the Cronkite School's 11th annual Greg Crowder Memorial Photojournalism Award Reception in the fall.
For more information, contact Maureen West at Maureen.West@asu.edu.