Brad Bradley: The 100-Year-Old Sports Photographer

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Brad Bradley photographed his first Cotton Bowl in 1948 with a Graflex Velocity Graphic when he was simply 26 years outdated. When he pictures the 87th version of the annual school soccer recreation on January 2, 2023, he will likely be 100 years outdated, having turned a century in July 2022.

Bradley has repeatedly coated 74 Cotton Bowls previous to 2021, which he missed as a result of COVID pandemic. He’s additionally a member of the Cotton Bowl Corridor of Fame.

Brad’s Early Years

James T. “Brad” Bradley has been often called Brad ever since he can keep in mind. He was destined to be a farmer earlier than World Warfare II interrupted his plans. After becoming a member of the companies, he ordered elements for B-24 bombers within the 92nd Air Depot Group. The tip of the conflict noticed Bradley, a Technical Sergeant within the US Military Air Corps, honorably discharged in 1945.

On June 2, 1946, he tied the knot with Betty Laughead, whose father, Jim Laughhead (pronounced Legislationhead), was knowledgeable sports activities photographer for the reason that Thirties. To his credit score, Laughhead even had a LIFE journal cowl of Audie Murphy, probably the most embellished soldier of WWII, the place his photograph assistant was his daughter Betty.

audie murphy cover

Bradley began serving to out his father-in-law, who was additionally a photographer for an organization that constructed B-24 bombers in Fort Value, Texas. This mentorship helped Bradley study the photographic ropes rapidly and the 2 grew to become a crew.

“Most of Brad’s photograph coaching got here on the job with Laughead apart from Kodak sponsored classes specializing in coloration photography and architectural design,” says Floyd Stanley, who’s married to Bradley’s daughter Iris.

“He [Laughead] was a very good trainer,” Bradley tells PetaPixel. “He had endurance with me. One of many issues that I did that I used to be fairly happy with was not solely did I’ve the duty of photography but additionally, he tapped me on the shoulder and mentioned exit and name on some companies and see if we are able to get some work within the metropolis of Dallas.”

This led to a long-term relationship producing publication images for the Ford Motor meeting plant in Dallas.

18 Leica
March, 2022. Brad Bradley recreates gaining perspective on the motion earlier than bringing a Leica M5 to his eye. Picture by Tim Pugliese.

“Huck ‘n’ Buck” Soccer Images

Motion photography was not frequent in soccer then, and the duo began the enduring “huck ‘n’ buck” motion pose for soccer gamers. This was a way of posing athletes to look as in the event that they have been in motion.

13 DickButkus Bears 1
Chicago Bears coaching camp, most likely early Sixties. Shot from the knees on a Velocity Graphic digital camera mounted on an angled steel body nailed to the sector, with a pre-fixed focus. Dick Butkus prepares to launch into the enduring “Loss of life Dive” posed motion shot. You possibly can faintly see the chalk mark that Butkus is meant to hit earlier than leaving his ft. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
14 DickButkus Bears2 1
Dick Butkus gleefully completes the “Loss of life Dive” posed motion photograph sequence. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

The poses could look contrived by in the present day’s requirements, however even Sports activities Illustrated was operating solely illustrations on its cowl and inside for coloration motion photos in these days.

43164 cover image

The “huck ‘n buck” idea started when the photographic duo was capturing at Mississippi State, and one of many Bulldogs’ linebackers was having problem getting his footwork proper for a very good “posed” motion pic. The photographers requested him to run laterally whereas crossing his legs and shifting his arms backward and forward.

Progress was solely made after many makes an attempt when a teammate requested the linebacker to do the Hucklebuck Dance, which was all the trend on campuses within the Fifties.

21 RooseveltManning72FalconsDeathDive 2 2048x1634 1
Atlanta Falcons spring coaching, 1972. Roosevelt Manning of the Atlanta Falcons follows by means of on the enduring “Loss of life Dive” photograph sequence. He would possibly seem like he was having enjoyable – they usually all did, says Brad. This photograph was made right into a life-size cutout and posted within the School Soccer Corridor of Fame “Huck ‘n Buck” exhibit that includes Bradley and Laughead. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
20 RooseveltManning72FalconsDeathDive 1 2048x1329 1
1972 Spring Coaching, Atlanta Falcons. Shot from the knees on a Velocity Graphic digital camera mounted on an angled steel body nailed to the sector, with a pre-fixed focus. Roosevelt Manning provides his title to the scores of athletes who’ve participated within the iconic “Loss of life Dive” posed motion photograph. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

The fashionable which means of the phrase viral was not in use in these days, however in any respect soccer fields, photographers quickly started asking their athletes to come back “Huckin and Buckin.” And an ideal phrase for posed-action photographs was born.

Capturing Sports activities with a Velocity Graphic View Digicam

The Velocity Graphic was a press digital camera — a medium/giant format view digital camera utilized by press photographers within the early to mid-Twentieth century — produced by Graflex in Rochester, New York. The “velocity” within the title refers back to the most shutter velocity of 1/1000 sec. utilizing the focal airplane shutter.

The digital camera was very sluggish to make use of. Firstly, slit width and spring stress needed to be chosen for the focal airplane shutter. You then needed to insert a movie holder, open the lens shutter, cock the focal airplane shutter, take away the darkish slide in entrance of the movie, focus the digital camera, after which click on the shutter.

Graflex SpeedGraphic
Graflex Velocity Graphic David, CC BY-SA 2.0

“You didn’t have a lot depth of area,” says Bradley. “In fact, due to the velocity of the sport, we had to make use of a better [shutter] velocity on the digital camera, and that reduces the depth of area. So, we needed to anticipate the place the soccer was going to be.

“We shot from the sideline. The one time we have been ever in a special location was for an finish zone play.”

Brad With Speed Graphic
Brad along with his Velocity Graphic © Tim Pugliese

Modifying Velocity Graphics to Take Roll Movie Holders

One of many issues was utilizing sheet movie in movie holders, which allowed simply two exposures per holder by flipping it after every shot. And photographers must carry a number of preloaded movie holders onto the sector.

17 JoeNamathBama65 1 scaled 1
1965 spring coaching, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Shade transparency shot from a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 100-125 shutter. Quarterback Joe Namath poses for the digital camera – as he nonetheless does in the present day. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
10 Brad Legend
Might 3, 2019, SMU Athletics Corridor of Fame Awards Ceremony, SMU. Brad Bradley is all dressed up as he receives the SMU Athletics Corridor of Fame award. He’s solely the second individual to ever obtain this award, following legendary SMU coach Hayden Fry. Picture by SMU. © Kevin Gaddis Jr

“It was a lot simpler to reload after we began utilizing 90 mm movie that Kodak had,” explains the centenarian. “In fact, we needed to get in a darkish room to vary that movie. After Kodak made the 90 mm movie that was precisely 4 x 5, it was doable to make use of it in a Velocity Graphic.

“After we obtained the 90 mm movie, our soccer exercise was a lot simpler than it ever was earlier than. It was only a depressing factor to vary all of the movie holders earlier than… It was sort of like a brand new life for us.

“The Kodak cartridge held about 75 photographs, I consider. We had a man who repaired our cameras and was additionally good at constructing issues. He drilled holes into the again of our cameras, and we had screws that might maintain the movie cartridge up towards the cameras. We had perhaps a dozen of these movie holders and that’s all we wanted.”

8 1971 Cotton Bowl Texas v Notre Dame 980x642 1
Jan. 1, 1971, Texas vs. Notre Dame, Cotton Bowl. Kodak Ektachrome 35 mm slide. Shot from the sideline with a hand-held Leica digital camera (most likely M2), 90mm lens. Billy Dale (22) can’t escape a Preventing Irish tackler as Notre Dame ruins an undefeated season and 30-game successful streak for the Longhorns. Notre Dame 24-11. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
12 BrooksRobinsonBat scaled 1
Baltimore Orioles Spring Coaching. Miami, most likely February 1968. Shot hand-held with a Velocity Graphic digital camera and Kodak 3.5×5 coloration transparency movie, 100-150 shutter at most likely f8. Brooks Robinson, Corridor of Fame third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles poses for the season’s Topps baseball card. Zoom in on the bat and you’ll learn his signature on the barrel. “I had actual good luck with my focus,” says Brad. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

SMU, Dallas Cowboys, and the NCAA

Bradley and Laughead began with SMU [Southern Methodist University] in 1947 after they obtained the contract to do yearbook footage.

“Our job was to {photograph} the coed physique,” remembers Bradley. “Up till that point, Laughead had achieved sports activities for SMU, primarily soccer. It was a studying expertise for us, and alongside the best way, SMU was having one in all its finest years in soccer, and although it was a variety of work, it was a terrific pleasure to be round at the moment.

“That affiliation has lasted all these years, though we don’t do as a lot work as we as soon as did as a result of they’ve added photographers to their workers.”

7 1968Cowboys Redskins1
November 28, 1968. Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins at Dallas. Shot from the sideline with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 5,6 or perhaps f8 aperture primarily based on the obvious obtainable mild and depth of area, 1/100 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 90mm movie. Jethro Pugh (75) continues to make life tough for the Redskins as quarterback Jim Ninowski (11) digs in. Cowboys 29-20. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
16 JimBrown Browns 24 Cowboys 17 11 21 65 1
Nov. 11, 1965. Browns vs. Cowboys, Dallas Cotton Bowl. Shot from the sideline with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, f8 or perhaps f11 aperture primarily based on the obvious obtainable mild and depth of area, 1/100 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 90mm movie. Jim Brown (32) gained 99 yards and the Browns overcame a late Cowboys rally to win 24-17. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

Bradley had a ring-side view of the delivery of the Dallas Cowboys franchise within the Sixties. He has photographed Tex Schram, the unique president and GM of the Dallas Cowboys franchise of the Nationwide Soccer League.

22 Shaq
Oct. 21, 2015, SMU Athletic Discussion board, Dallas. A tall order: Brad Bradley greets Shaquille O’Neal after taking VIP images at a reception previous the SMU Athletic Discussion board program. Shot with an iPhone digital camera. Picture by James “Jimmy” Bradley 2nd. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
23 Staubach63vsSMU 2
Oct. 11, 1963, Navy vs. SMU, Dallas Cotton Bowl. Shot from the sideline with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, digital camera mounted flash, 90-100mm lens, doubtless f8 aperture, 1/200 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 4×5 movie. Roger “The Dodger” Staubach works his magic vs. SMU in his Heisman Trophy-winning season, however can’t overcome the Mustangs, 32-28. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

Because the Nationwide Collegiate Athletic Affiliation (NCAA) grew, so did the scope of Bradley’s work.

“Throughout these years, my job was to go to wherever the NCAA had yearly conferences through the second week of January, after the bowl video games,” Bradley says. “We went all around the whole nation over a interval of about 7 or 8 years. I’ve by no means loved something greater than all of that as a result of, in that course of, we met folks that we had labored with in soccer. […]”

“LSU [Louisiana State University] was primarily liable for that [growth]. The athletic director, in about 1954, mentioned, ‘I need to contain you extra with Southeast Convention colleges.’ With that, he picked up the cellphone and known as Auburn, the second faculty we did after LSU. After that, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida [and more].”

9 BarrySanders Brad DerrickHenry 1
February 19, 2016, Doak Walker Awards Banquet, Dallas. Brad Bradley (middle) instructs Alabama Doak Walker and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry (standing) as Oklahoma State Doak Walker Legend and Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders battles the flu. After sitting for footage with VIPs the earlier evening, Henry acknowledged, “I would like my image taken with THAT man,” motioning towards Brad. Shot with an iPhone digital camera. Picture by James “Jimmy” Bradley 2nd.

Bradley has additionally photographed skilled baseball groups, together with the Cardinals, Cubs, Twins, Braves (Milwaukee), Orioles, Yankees, Pink Sox, Reds, Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Senators (now the Twins), Mets, A’s, Phillies, Angels, Padres, Giants, Pirates, Giants, Dodgers, and Brewers.

The sports activities photographer additionally had an task of photographing President Ronald Reagan at Dallas Love Discipline Airport.

An Eyewitness to Integration in Soccer

In 1948, Penn State had two Black gamers – Wally Triplett and Dennie Hoggard.

Triplett grew to become the primary African-American to play within the beforehand segregated Cotton Bowl, though he needed to keep in a separate facility from the remainder of his teammates as a result of no resorts within the Dallas space would enable blacks and whites to remain collectively. Triplett scored the ultimate landing in a 13-13 tie with SMU. – Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame

“SMU completely had no concern about enjoying the sport,” remembers Bradley. “To me, the climax was, the sport was a tie, and after the sport was over, each groups got here again to SMU and sat right down to dinner on the pupil union. To me, equally [great], was the best way that SMU dealt with Jerry LeVias [first Black player in the Southwest Conference]. I totally loved Jerry, and I believe he considers me a buddy.”

3 1949 Cotton Bowl 1 scaled 1
Jan. 1, 1949. Oregon vs. SMU at Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Shot with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 5,6 aperture, 1/100 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 4×5 movie. An SMU Mustangs runner (doubtless Kyle Rote) confronts Oregon defenders within the open area as SMU wins 21-13. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
2 60vCardinals GeneCronin
Oct. 23, 1960, Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Cardinals at St. Louis. Shot from the sideline with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 5,6 or perhaps f8 aperture primarily based on the obvious obtainable mild and depth of area, 100-125 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 4×5 movie. The Cardinals kicker sends the ball by means of, if not into, the road of scrimmage. St. Louis 12-10. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

When USC got here to Alabama in 1970, it was the primary time a totally built-in crew was enjoying within the state.

“Alabama known as me and requested me to come back to the sport,” says Bradley. “I keep in mind particularly that each groups have been on the sector, and coach Bear Bryant was standing in one of many finish zones.

“I went down there and talked to him just a little bit. He was all the time pleasant to me anyway. He instructed me he could be glad when the sport was over. I believe he considerably dreaded enjoying the sport. It ended up in such a means that the Southeastern Convention determined that to be extra aggressive, they needed to recruit Black gamers.”

Age is Only a Quantity, Even When it’s 100

Bradley says he owes his large power and energy at age 100 to the pleasure of his job.

“I simply felt so good, so constructive, concerning the job that we have been doing that it gave me the braveness to proceed,” says the sports activities shooter. In the present day if I’ve a job in photography, I really feel prefer it must be achieved in the very best means.

“I used to be blessed with power and energy to endure some elements of the sport that have been tiring. I’ve all the time been capable of relaxation just a little bit after which get again up and do it once more.”

6 1968Cowboys Redskins
November 28, 1968, Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins at Dallas. Shot from the again of the tip zone with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 5,6 aperture, 1/100 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 90mm movie. Jethro Pugh (75) and George Andrie (66) set their sights on Washington quarterback Jim Ninowski (11). Cowboys 29-20. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
5 1960vColts EddieLeBaron2
Oct. 30, 1960, St. Louis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Cotton Bowl. Shot from the sideline with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 5,6 aperture primarily based on the obvious obtainable mild and depth of area, 100-125 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 4×5 movie. As was the case with a lot of the Cowboys’ inaugural season, Dallas quarterback Eddie LeBaron struggles to search out passing room towards the Cardinals. St. Louis 12-10. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

In 1984 New York Mayor Ed Koch organized a ticker-tape parade honoring triumphant U.S. Olympic athletes with a complete medal tally of 250. Brad walked your complete parade backward as he wished to give attention to the motion repeatedly.

1 60vCardinals 1
Oct. 23, 1960. Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Cardinals at St. Louis. Shot with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 5.6 or perhaps 4 aperture primarily based on the apparently obtainable mild, 100-125 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 4×5 movie. David Sherer of the Dallas Cowboys punts from deep in his personal territory. St. Louis 12-10. © James T. “Brad” Bradley
4 1949 Cotton Bowl scaled 1
Jan. 1, 1949, Oregon vs. SMU, Cotton Bowl. Shot with a hand-held Velocity Graphic digital camera, 90-100mm lens, 5,6 aperture, 1/100 shutter, predicted focus upfront of play, 4×5 movie, destructive corrupted with obvious water droplet. Oregon makes an attempt a late-game comeback bid with this landing go, however the SMU operating recreation of Doak Walker and Kyle Rote was an excessive amount of to beat. SMU 21-13. © James T. “Brad” Bradley

Bradley’s first digital digital camera was the Nikon D90, however he didn’t shoot any sports activities images with it. His first digital digital camera for work was the Nikon D300S.

“Final yr I did the Cotton Bowl Corridor of Fame induction, shot footage within the press field on the recreation, did SMU Athletic Discussion board, Tate Lecture Sequence, and Doak Walker Award,” says the now digital sports activities photographer.

19 onthejob
Brad works a crew photograph shoot on a blustery day with a Nikon D300 digital camera.

And no, Bradley has not taken up capturing images with a smartphone… but.


If you already know different photographers nonetheless working at age 100 anyplace on the earth, please tell us as we could also be excited by telling their story.


In regards to the writer: Phil Mistry is a photographer and trainer primarily based in Atlanta, GA. He began one of many first digital digital camera courses in New York Metropolis at The Worldwide Heart of Images within the 90s. He was the director and trainer for Sony/Well-liked Images journal’s Digital Days Workshops. You possibly can attain him right here.


Picture credit: Header photograph (composite) © James T. “Brad” Bradley

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