DETROIT — Mike Mulholland is working his dream job. He just turned 24 years old.
The Greenville High School graduate (2007) and soon to be Central Michigan University graduate is the statewide sports photographer for the MLive Media Group.
While we all watched the Detroit Tigers playoff run, the Detroit Lions win in Chicago last weekend and even Michigan State’s win over Kentucky this week on television, Mulholland was sitting front row capturing images for publication in print and online across Michigan, and in some circumstances, around the country.
Mulholland has a passion for journalism and more specifically, photography.
I had the chance to talk with the former Daily News intern about his new job and all the things that go along with it.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to work in the journalism field?
A: “When I did the 32 minutes (a sports newsletter put together by Mulholland in high school) thing and leading the Buzz Zone in high school. That’s how it really started. All of my best friends played basketball and I was too short and way too aggressive. I wanted to still be a part of the team and that was the way to do it. It slowly developed into something I wanted to do. I knew the whole online journalism field was going to be huge and that’s what I defined my major as first. But then I took a photo class and immediately fell in love with that and switched. I grew up wanting to be all sorts of different things and journalism just sort of fell in my lap. Luckily, I’ve fallen in love with it.”
Q: How does it feel to be doing something you love on such a big stage, your dream job at 24?
A: “I saw the position posted. The job was created just as I was finishing my internship in Jackson (Jackson Citizen Patriot). I had always dreamed of covering pro teams and shooting for the big leagues. Everyone always dreams of getting there. It is kind of cool being there at 23, 24 years old. You get to see all sorts of cool things. It’s still surreal I think. It’s old hat for everyone that has been there for years, but I’m still giddy about it. Even when you get hit by a foul ball or get run into on the sideline. It’s nice when you can enjoy your job.”
Q: How do you like living in Detroit?
A: “I like it a lot. It’s kind of a culture shock growing up in Greenville and switching to downtown Detroit. It’s not as bad as everyone says it is. I’m sure it is outside of downtown, but downtown is really vibrate and a lot of fun.”
Q: What is a game day like for you?
A: “On a typical day, say for the Lions, since they are playing right now. For a 1 p.m., game I have to be there at 10 a.m. I have to set up and get everything in order so I’m not rushed. We have to prepare just like the players do. I know that sounds weird, but you have to mentally be ready every play as a photographer. I can’t take a play off, I have to know where a play is going and focus all the time. If you miss one (a great play), you’re going to hear it from your boss, friends and everybody. It’s not fun to miss something.
Q: Do you have to or how often do you have to submit photos during the game?
A: “At halftime, I run up to the photo room and put in 10 to 12 images from the first half. It goes into a gallery and runs as soon as the clock hits zero in the fourth quarter. We have a story and a gallery up on MLive as soon as the game ends, immediately. Sometimes I miss part of the third quarter, but usually I’m back in time.”
Q: How many photos do you take during a game?
A: “I shoot about 2,100 during the game. It’s pretty absurd and I will use about 60. With the cameras and the technology, I can do in-camera tagging, so I can figure out which one I like and I can select that before I even put it in the computer to edit. That makes the job a lot faster.”
Q: What happens after the game?
A: “With finishing cutlines, toning and turning everything in, I’m looking at about an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes two if it’s a good game that comes down to the wire.”
Q: What is your favorite part of the job?
A: “Definitely, getting one of those images that go viral or kind of circles the Internet every once in a while. I had the shot from the ALCS with the non-fan interference, where Josh Reddick missed the home run by Victor Martinez. I was the only one to get a clean shot of all the faces. The AP quickly asked for it and the next morning I saw it all over the place. It’s cool to have your photo everywhere, not just in Michigan.