It all started with a raised hand. Larry Newman put his in the air, because someone needed to take photos of his son’s freshman football team at Valencia High School in Placentia, California.
In the fall of 2005, Newman set out to document the football team’s season. With no former photography experience to speak of, he started by simply bringing a small digital Kodak camera onto the field. Eventually, he found himself photographing Valencia’s end-of-year varsity California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) match.
“When I was on the sideline, I thought, ‘This is cool,’” Newman said of the experience. “I was able to get a little bit of equipment the next year and that’s when I started.”
Newman’s photography career has always been tied to his son Michael, both in its conception and evolution. When his son enrolled at Chapman and played football in the fall of 2009, Newman’s camera, upgraded to a Canon EOS 20D, came with him and stayed, even after his son had stopped playing.
“Again, I put my hand up to take photos,” Newman said. “Two weeks into football practice, an old knee injury came up so he was gone, but I hung around.”
He served as team photographer that year, returned in 2010 and between 2011 and 2012, gradually began to photograph other sports. The following year, he began his current role, taking photos for all 21 of Chapman’s NCAA Division III teams.
“I have roots here. I’ve watched the school grow,” Newman said. “(Athletes) are here for the love of the sport, the camaraderie and the friends for life that they make while they play here.”
His connections to seniors is especially strong, given his four-year documentation of their athletic careers that will eventually conclude, for many, with the last time that they don a uniform.
“I love to watch the seniors on these teams, because it’s four years of sticking with it,” Newman said. “The seniors will take the time and come over to say, ‘Thank you Mr. Newman for everything you do.’ I really appreciate that and it happens a lot.”
Newman is entering his 10th year as a photographer for Chapman. He can often be found on the field or court during pregame warm-ups, where he diligently captures in-game moments in fine detail until the clock runs out. Over the course of any given game, he takes upwards of 1200 photos and spends hours sifting through, selecting and editing his favorites.
“Whatever hours I spend shooting the event, I spend equal hours editing,” Newman said. “I try to get 80 to 100 good photos out of the deal.”
As an integral part of Chapman Athletics, he’s described by head football coach Bob Owens as a historian. Over the course of his 10 years on campus, he’s become well-known and has accrued a great body of work that shows the depth of Chapman sports – especially amongst Owens’ team.
“Our players have great respect and admiration for Larry,” Owens said. “They really appreciate his effort to photograph our games and give them that access. He means the world to them.”
Newman says he now feels like part of the campus itself. He’ll often spend most of his week on and around Chapman territory with his camera, snapping away. He spends countless hours searching for that perfect shot, and even though his son and nephew have long since graduated, his connection to the school is as strong as ever.
“I feel at home when I walk on campus,” Newman said. “It’s a labor of love for sure.”