You’d think that a photographer with press passes to every major wrestling event on the planet — including world championships and the Olympics — would make a ton of money from his shots.
You’d be wrong.
Larry Slater — a state champion wrestler on Staples’ 1974 team, now an attorney in Arizona — takes those photos as a hobby.
He pays his way everywhere: to Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions in Oklahoma. To USA Wrestling and international events. To the Beijing Olympics in 2008. To London this summer.
Then he gives his photos away, to anyone who wants them.
Mostly, it’s the wrestlers themselves (and their families). Sometimes, it’s the media.
Larry’s expensive hobby began a decade ago. He represented Arizona State University wrestling coach Bobby Douglas during contract negotiations. When Douglas took over as Olympic coach in 2004, Larry started shooting. Back then, it was a way to get good seats at his friend’s tournaments.
Larry’s photographed every national and NCAA championship since then. He spends hours crouching by the side of the mat, then hours more preparing his photos for distribution. He uses sites like Smugmug, and also posts on Facebook.
What does he get out of it?
“Access. Passes. Front row seats. And I get to know the wrestlers personally,” Larry says.
Last May, when the US Greco-Roman team wrestled Republic of Georgia in Chicago, Larry was there. Two months later, a Georgian won a bronze in the Olympics. Larry was proud to provide him with photos.
Midway through London, the Americans had yet to win a medal. But Larry was having a great time. He was watching a sport he loves, meeting world-class athletes, helping promote the sport — and giving them lifetime mementos.
So how does Larry like the Olympics?
He spends most of his time taking or working on photos. But he has gotten out to see the usual tourist sites.
“The organizers have gone above and beyond,” he reports. “Everyone’s been great.”
And — unlike Beijing 4 years ago — “they all speak English.”
(Click here for a link to Larry’s London Olympics website.)