The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The faces behind the camera

Rick Smith, Hannah Ally capture work of student-athletes
Hannah Ally also works as a photography intern for the New York Yankees. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Ally)

You may not recognize sports photographers Rick Smith and Hannah Ally if you see them at a game, but you’ve definitely seen one of their photos. Smith and Ally are two of the athletic department’s most active photographers, shooting for media days, practices and games. 

Smith, who started out his photography career as a commercial photographer’s assistant and then transitioned to working for the Associated Press as a photojournalist, didn’t like sports photography when he first started in the business. However, a meeting with the assignment editor of The New York Times in 2005 completely changed the course of his career. 

“He looked at me and he said, ‘You really like to shoot sports, don’t you? You’re really good at it,’” Smith said. “And well, [I’m] not going to tell the assignment editor, the guy that gives assignments out for the largest newspaper in the world, that yeah, sports is not my thing, right? … Here I am, eighteen years later shooting sports for Lafayette College, so it’s been quite an adventure.”

Ally had a slightly different path into photography. After playing as a Division III basketball player at Centenary College, she started coaching basketball for the Phillipsburg High School basketball team.

“I actually started running their social media and I found myself taking more photos of them than actually coaching them,” Ally said. “[I thought] maybe there’s something to this. Through there is where I got my first real camera and started experimenting, and then it kind of snowballed from there.”

Six years later, she has worked for both the Lafayette and Lehigh athletic departments and is currently the head photographer for the Somerset Patriots, the New York Yankees’ double-A affiliate. She is also a photography intern with the Yankees, which means her schedule is very busy during baseball season. 

Rick Smith traveled to Duke to photograph Lafayette’s football team last week. (Photo courtesy of Rick Smith)

Ally emphasized how important it is to interact with student-athletes to create the best possible photograph. “I feel like the closer you are to teams, the better engagement you get with the camera,” she said. “You kind of have to build a rapport and trust there so that they know they can interact with the camera … I feel like Lafayette really adapted to that mindset that I had and then brought me into their teams.” 

Smith and Ally work with Phillip LaBella, the director of athletic communications to figure out which sporting events they can and cannot shoot. 

“I used to be very college sports-focused, but right now the professional sports are kind of taking a spin in my life and I feel really grateful that both Lafayette and Lehigh are really understanding of that and actually are really supportive,” Ally said. 

Smith, on the other hand, does not do a lot of freelancing outside of Lafayette.

“I don’t do any other athletics,” Smith said. “I am always asked to, but I’m not interested in professional sports. I’m not interested in traveling … I’ve been published in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times and all that stuff. But I’m kind of past that point of the excitement by being published … And I found a home. I found what works for me at Lafayette and it goes from year to year to year and I really love it.”

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About the Contributor
Grace Sanborn
Grace Sanborn, Assistant Sports Editor
Thinks hitting a ball with a stick outside for four hours is fun.

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