Capturing moments in time and being among those in the esports industry’s frontline of success is Stephanie Lindgren, 2019’s Esports Photographer of the Year at the Esports Awards. Stephanie is an esports photographer who’s traveled the world to the most prestigious esport events. She’s caught the emotions within and immortalized them for the world to see.
Esportz Network held the privilege of interviewing Stephanie, learning how she reached the top and continues to blow the esports industry away.
Esportz Network: How did you get into photography?
Stephanie Lindgren: So, I have always been kind of a creative person. I’ve always drawn or painted or been into some creative outlet for the longest time. Actually, when I was in high school, I thought photography was quite useless because I thought anyone could take a photo, so it’s not really art, so I used to actually trash talk photography a lot. And then slowly but surely, I saw what some people in my art class were doing with photography and some of it I thought was trash, and some of it actually inspired me. It kind of provoked me as well.
I thought that if you just point a camera and take a photo then why don’t I just do it? So I kind of copycatted what my classmates were doing and got a decent camera and just started exploring but it didn’t really take off until I started volunteering at DreamHack, where I met other photographers. And again I was kind of provoked when I saw that their photos were amazing. “What do I need to do to get that level?” I thought. So that’s what kind of got me to take it a lot more seriously than I did previously.
EN: What made you get into esports photography?
SL: I have always been a gamer, and I’ve always played video games. I don’t really know who I am without video games. It’s a huge part of my identity, my upbringing, and everything, so when I heard about cool events like DreamHack and other LANs, it was perfect because it kind of combined my interests. Specifically, with DreamHack, festivals with lasers and people and there are videogames, so it’s like the best of both worlds for me. I initially kind of went as a fan of video games, and then, as I said when I volunteered at DreamHack. Originally it was with their social media team. I have a strong belief that you cannot do good social media without good content and the good content was exactly what the photographers were providing that inspired me at DreamHack. It has always been an interest of mine, but then meeting these other photographers and knowing what good synergy there is between good content and social media and marketing, that’s what got me excited to help that out.
EN: You’ve taken tons of photos, but among all those photos, are there any favorite shots, any captured moments that you consider your best photo taken?
SL: Yeah, I have a couple. The first one that comes to mind naturally for me is a photo I took of Arslan Ash at EVO last year when he won. That was probably one of my favorite photos of all time that I’ve taken, and I’m incredibly proud of it, which is unusual for me to say. That’s how you know I feel strongly for it.
After that, it’s almost every single photo I’ve taken of SonicFox, especially when he’s playing against GO1. Those always turn out amazing, but specifically the one that caught the first COMBO BREAKER when he beat GO1 for the first time, and he popped off extremely hard. That was both epic for the audience and the stream. And everyone was waiting for it. Everyone was waiting for the moment for him to beat GO1 the first time. That was exciting.
The Spaniards at EVO last year when Shanks made the top eight. A recent one was from Redbull Kumite in Japan of 801 Strider, eyeing down his opponent in the cage. Romain Bigear from Riot Games at Worlds last year as French Pantheon. I would say that those are definitely the favorites that come to mind off the top of my head.
EN: Moving past your favorite captured shots, are there any events that you consider memorable?
SL: For sure. I would say every event that I go to is memorable because everyone has the good or the bad hope of an event. Maybe my most memorable… probably Redbull Kumite, last year’s EVO when I became staff for the first time because it seemed so surreal seeing my name on the screen as a staff. My first COMBO BREAKER, but also my whole first year of grinding the European events. When I went to my first couple European events, no one knew who I was and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I went to all those events for free and kind of grew together with all those events I shot my first year. It’s memorable for me in a very sentimental way and it’s very cool to see how I’ve grown since I first went to these events and how the events I’ve been to have really stepped up their game. Just seeing the evolution of all the events I go to, I guess everything is memorable at that point.
EN: You’ve captured a lot of moments in your career. Among all the esports gaming categories like Dota 2, League of Legends, Smash, and so on, is there anything in particular, you’d consider your favorite?
SL: I am not quite sure actually. I just think that there is no moment or event that particularly stands out. It’s all about the energy of the people, and the energy of people has been apparent whether I’m in France, or whether I’m in the States in Chicago for COMBO BREAKER or for EVO. It’s a very universal feeling, so nothing really stands out to me, but I mean the FGC is my kind of niche. They bring it every single time. That’s why I continue to do what I’m doing despite the Fighting Game Community not being the biggest genre of esports.
EN: You’ve recently been awarded Esports Photographer of the Year, how did it feel? Was it surreal, was it expected?
SL: I’m not quite sure. I had different emotions because I was nominated along with a lot of other talented photographers, so honestly, I think it was anyone’s game. And at the same time, I was also thinking that this year, meaning last year 2019, was the year I got my best shots. If I don’t win this year, I don’t know how I’m going to top myself. It’s really hard to imagine me doing that, so I was happy that I won, but at the same time, I don’t feel that much different than all the nominees because everyone was fantastic. It feels good to be recognized, but I’m definitely not far off. There’s not a big gap between me and the nominees. But overall, I’m just scratching the surface and I still have a lot of people to prove myself to.
EN: The journey to success is always one of sweat and hard work, for other young men and women out there that wish to be in your place in the future, what is one advice you can give for any aspiring esport photographer?
SL: I would say, first and foremost, don’t get into this thing if you think you’ll be making a lot of money if you hear that esports is making so much money. Most people in the industry aren’t seeing much of that money. Do it because of the passion and I think one thing that makes or breaks people in esports, regardless of photography, or commentating, or tournament organizing, is that everyone is here out of passion. If you don’t have the passion for it then you’ll become resentful and will not have a good time. This is an industry of passion and people, so if that’s what makes you excited, then keep doing what you’re doing.
In specifics to esports photography, I’d say do your best and do what you think looks aesthetic. Do what you think looks right. But also keep in mind that myself and others might take really cool pictures and emotional photos, but there is more value to it than looking good. The point of esports photographers, in my opinion, is we’re supposed to capture those events and immortalize those moments in time and get people excited to go to these events.
This is marketing material and this is also moments in history. We are captivating that, so we need to make sure that whatever we are experiencing in person at an event translates into that photo and will get people excited about going to the next event and will get people who are at the event look back and reminisce at those photos. Capture that emotion and think about the longevity of your photo. Not that it looks pretty, but what does this photo actually mean, how can it be used.
Additionally, also keep in mind that you will not capture every single moment. You will miss some moments and that’s completely okay because that’s why events should have teams of photographers. Even if they don’t, it’s okay. The only person that will remember those moments that you didn’t capture is yourself. I’ve missed plenty of them, and I can’t remember them. It stings a little bit but you kind of just get over it and do your job, so I guess accept failure here and there.
“This is an industry of passion and people,” said Stephanie Lindgren.
Stephanie Lindgren is one of the contributing factors for the esports industry’s success. She inspires people around the world and considering those who cannot go to such events, Stephanie provides the presence of events with her photographs. Esportz Network would like to thank Stephanie for taking her time to be interviewed. We wish her endless prosperity and abundance for the new decade of 2020.
Written by Jay Hunter