Al Bello, sports special correspondent for Getty Sports, has been named Sports Photographer of the Year by three different committees. // Photo courtesy of Al Bello.
Getty Sports sports special correspondent Al Bello spoke to Professor Mario Gonzalez’s Multimedia Video Journalism class on Thursday, March 31, about his career as a sports photographer. Bello will return to Hofstra University in the fall to teach a sports photojournalism course and plans to mentor young photographers.
“If you want to be successful, you have to want it,” Bello said. “You have to work hard, tirelessly, long hours, off hours, strange hours. It’s not a 9-to-5 job, without a stretch of the imagination. You don’t turn off the computer and that’s it. My work can start at five o’clock in the morning and end at 11 o’clock in the evening.
Bello returned home to New York last month after working at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics for Getty Sports. He was at the games during the month of February and was in Tokyo just six months before that for the Summer Olympics.
In Tokyo, Bello photographed water sports and focused on diving in underwater photography. This year in Beijing, he and his camera headed downhill.
“Now it’s freezing cold every day, I’m bundled up. I have a vest with heated pockets; it’s minus 20 degrees every day. My fingers are split; they bleed,” Bello said. “So every day it’s kind of a challenge to get to the mountain. You climb mountains at 45 degrees and ski to the top. It’s physical, right?
Students getting into sports reporting have found it helpful to hear Bello’s anecdotes.
“[It’s] most interesting to learn how it positions itself where the action is, uses shutter speed to slow down the game, how to watch where the best lighting is, and what it takes to shoot different sports said Avery Torff, a sophomore in sports journalism.
Bello got his start in photography after taking a course in the subject during his freshman year at Stony Brook University. As a player for the Seawolves football team, he first began photographing his teammates and friends in other sports programs. Once Bello realized the impact his photography had on his friends, he was hooked.
“For them to just say, ‘Oh, wow, that’s really cool, Al. I’m so glad you did that for me. That’s when I realized I could get people to react,” Bello said.