NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - The NBA is 48 minutes of speed, elegance, force, deftness all at once. But a photograph can a capture a single moment becoming a story in and of itself. That is what Steven John Irby sees in the New York Knicks through his lens. In February, Irby collaborated with the Knicks to be their official photographer through one of their several Black History Month initiatives.
"I started a magazine called Street Dreams Magazine with my friends in Vancouver and it's a photography publication that focuses on bringing an equal platform for all photographers," he said. "And over the past four years as a photographer myself I guess the Knicks noticed my work after a while, and especially being a born-and-raised New Yorker they hit me up and were like 'Hey are you interested in working with us for Black History Month?' And I was like, 'Are you serious? Is this a prank call?'"
A lifelong Knicks fan from Rosedale, Queens, who remembers his mother yelling in joy as John Starks would drain threes in the 1990s, Irby took a unique path to becoming a professional photographer.
"I actually was mugged in college when I was 18 years old—I basically worked every single job to figure out that I was tired of investing in other people's futures besides myself," he said. "So that's when I started my whole photography career."
Completely self-taught, Irby photographed the Hawks, Bucks, and Wizards games this February. But his favorite photos are from non-game days.
"Going to the practice facility was so intimate," he said. "It was an experience not a lot of people get to have."
And his lens seems to gravitate to certain players, including Kyle O'Quinn, who is also from Queens.
"His emotions speak volumes and you just gravitate toward people like that," Irby said. "He's super-photogenic."
You can see Irby's work on his Instagram account @stevesweatpants and now he will take this experience to launch his career even further.
"Now with all this information that I've learned from the Knicks games and all these photos that I've been able to take, I'm planning on making a little documentary out of this whole thing with one of my good friends I grew up with in Queens," Irby said. "We're hoping to launch the documentary at Tribeca Film Festival."