Cameron Look takes pride in his work. He keeps some of his favorite photos hanging up on his bedroom wall. There’s a shot of Shareef O’Neal at the Hoophall West tournament in Arizona, where he is standing perfectly between a set of fiery phoenix wings painted on the gym wall. There’s an image of a 14-year-old Bronny James on the court during his freshman year at Sierra Canyon with a sold out Nationwide Arena crowd behind him. Another shows LeBron James walking over to the sideline to dap up Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center. Look’s portfolio tells the story of basketball’s past, present, and future.
Look, also known as Koolmac, is a 28-year-old photographer from the Bay Area. He wanted to shoot product shots for a clothing line so he purchased his first DSLR camera in July 2017. It quickly became about more than just shooting clothes. He began make connections with some of the biggest names in high school basketball and grow his network. In the span of five years, he’s already gained a reputation as a go-to photographer capturing amazing moments at every level of basketball including the NBA.
“I already had an idea of what I wanted my pictures to look like. I knew where I wanted to shoot them and how I wanted to edit them,” says Look. “In my mind, all I really needed to do was learn how to press the button and take the picture.”
Purists may frown upon some of Look’s signatures, which include blurred movement or overexposed lighting, but Look is learning the art of photography on his own terms and it has worked to his benefit. He says it’s kept him open-minded. Certain things he may have been told to stop doing in classes have become part of his repertoire.
“I think that’s why my work is so unique and nontraditional,” says Look. “Some of the basic principles or rules that people take to approaching photography, I don’t know what those are. They aren’t reflected in my work. I’ve had friends that I’d shoot with and they’d try to give me tips early on. I would never get much praise from them, to be honest. They would tell me that my skin tones were off or I needed more contrast. I think that just goes to show that art is so subjective.”