Macalester's unofficial, official sports photographer

By Nate Wilson-Traisman

His bearded face is visible at many Macalester sporting events, yet chances are you’ve never heard of him. The man is Chris Mitchell, and in short he is Macalester’s unofficial, official sports photographer. His photos can be seen gracing the pages of The Mac Weekly, or on the team pages of the Macalester athletics website.

A Mac graduate of the class of ’01, Mitchell spent his junior year in a peace and studies conflict program in the Middle East (Jordan, Israel and Palestine). Mitchell’s first experience with photography came on that trip, where he fell in with some photographers.

“I had a pretty bad case of culture shock when I came back,” Mitchell said. “I worked landscaping for my parents, and they got me a camera in return.”

Shortly after, with the permission of soccer coach John Leaney and women’s cross-country coach Jordan Cushing, Mitchell began taking photos at games and meets.

For two years, Leaney paid for Mitchell’s film and development costs, for which Mitchell is grateful.

“Both John and Jordan Cushing were really supportive of me,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s role in the Macalester sports community has rapidly grown, as he now takes photos for all the Mac varsity teams. Still, his favorite sports to photograph are the active ones, primarily soccer and track.

“There’s more variety,” Mitchell said of the sports. “They just have so many things going on.”

Despite his love of photography, Mitchell has yet to make it his career. He spends his days working on telecommunications policy at the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, a local think tank in Minneapolis.

“Ideally I wouldn’t be working full time in policy,” Mitchell said. “I’d do that a couple days, and photograph a couple days.”

Although Mitchell majored in political science at Macalester, he originally intended to major in computer science. He has applied his tech savvy to his website, macsportsphotos.net, where he compiles his Macalester sports photos so that they are accessible to student-athletes as well as their families.

“I have a strong tech background, so right away I thought I have all these photos, I should do something with them,” Mitchell said.

Aside from Mac, Mitchell takes photos for the University of Minnesota soccer team where he is the self-proclaimed “go- to-guy for soccer.” His photos have been published in the Star Tribune and used as posters for Gopher Sports.

Mitchell noted that it is important to differentiate the kind of photos used for schools compared to publications. Whereas publications are desirous of dramatic photos, schools prefer flattering photos, even if they’re not necessarily in context.

“I’ve tried to specialize more to know what schools are looking for,” Mitchell said.

As of late, Mitchell has seen his photographic opportunities expand. He recently had the privilege of shooting a Minnesota Vikings game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The University of Minnesota got Mitchell credentials to get shots of alumnus and Eagle fullback Thomas Tapeh for its media guide. It was the first and only professional sporting event Mitchell has had the opportunity to shoot.

Still, Mitchell’s largest aspirations lie in soccer, the sport that launched Mitchell’s photographic career.

“I have ambitions of shooting both the men’s and the women’s world cups before I hang up the camera,” Mitchell said.