Jody Hou is a professional photographer based in Los Angeles, California. I first became aware of her work documenting the Los Angeles Clippers games this season and was able to met in person at a Toasted Life event in Salt Lake City, Utah during All-Star Weekend earlier this year. Jody graciously accepted to be featured in a Q&A article for 9450 Media.
1) Your work feels incredibly dynamic while still capturing your subjects in a personal and intimate way. Is there an emotion or feeling you strive to evoke in viewers through your work?
I always try to find a unique or deeper aspect past the surface level.
2) Your work is incredibly eclectic, having photographed a wide array of athletes, celebrities, and high-profile events. Has there been a subject or event that has blown you away? Or a photo shoot that you’re most proud of? Similarly, is anyone on your dream list who you would love to photograph?
To be honest, every new opportunity is super exciting for me the first time around. I feel like my journey is barely beginning and already I’ve been able to do so much in the scene. Getting to work with celebrities and athletes in a space with huge brands that I love (Redbull, Google Pixel, Whatsapp, etc.) has all been pretty surreal.
Dream bucket list: Photograph J. Cole (my favorite artist & I love that he has hoop dreams as well.)
3) Life as an NBA photographer is a dream role for many and seems like it would have moments of glamor balanced with high intensity and rigor — could you highlight a perk and a struggle about your job that people may not expect would be part of your position?
The biggest perk IMO is being trusted to be in close proximity and to be able to interact with these athletes on a personal level. On top of that, a huge part of my job is to watch basketball being played—can’t complain about that!
One of the struggles would be the amount of times you’re told “no” or restricted access. The results from the camera often do not reflect the actual circumstances that we shoot under.
People aren’t seeing that, they’re seeing the shots that you dared to capture despite the restrictions. It almost becomes a personal mission to get those shots regardless of the obstacles.
4) Basketball is obviously a fast-paced sport with players always going full throttle, which seems to be a similar theme with how you approach your career and brand. Can you talk about what specifically draws you to basketball, as opposed to the other major sports?
Ultimately, Basketball is the sport that has created so many bonds, friendships and opportunities for me, as well as allowed me to challenge myself physically and mentally.
5) As a professional photographer, you worked during the second-highest scoring NBA game in February when the Kings squeaked past the Clippers with a final score of 176-175. I have to imagine there were more photographs taken during that game than usual, but can you tell me what it’s like to photograph a historic event like that? Does your approach change as the score continues to balloon in the second half?
At that point, I found myself looking for intense displays of emotions or iconic moments that will remind people of the historic game. Being able to witness games like that just make working during the game that much more enjoyable.
6) While you have been interested in photography since grade school, your journey in sports photography is a bit fresher, starting back in 2020 while watching athletes train at a local gym where you worked. What was it about these athletes that you found inspirational and compelled you to pick up the camera?
I think it was the exposure to their grind behind the scenes. Although I’ve played basketball myself, it was my first glance into professional athlete’s daily lives. Their work ethic and desire to be in the gym training consistently was very inspiring to see, I would say comparable to a creative’s work ethic in their office. At one point, they even motivated me to wake up early and catch runs at 6am on a weekly basis (not too many things will get me out of bed that early.)
7) Your ascent in the sports photography world speaks volumes about your passion and talent. Is there anything you have learned over the past few years that you wish you had known when you first started on this journey?
SO MANY THINGS! But that’s the beauty of a journey, right? You learn as you go and you grow from it. I cherish every mistake as a learning lesson I needed.
8) The NBA and its popularity continue to expand at a rapid pace — do you have any advice for fans or up-and-comers who love your work and strive to work in a similar role?
Keep doing the work, Keep connecting with others, Keep having fun with it and always love what you do! Also, be patient with the process, it takes time to level up. No amount of words will take you straight to the prize, you’ve got to put the work in.
9) You’ve already accomplished so much with your photography — is there something you are striving to achieve either personally or professionally in the next few years? Can you give a glimpse of what’s next for you?
I’m always brainstorming and full of ideas, what I’d like to be able to accomplish is laying down the tracks so that more of these ideas can come into fruition. Other than that, just striving to work with more people and organizations all over! The possibilities are endless, and I'm always excited to see what new projects I will be called upon for. The beauty of sports is that as much action as there is during season, there's just as much in the off-season.
Thank you to Jody Hou for allowing us to conduct a Q&A article for 9450 Media. Thank you as well to Josh Laufer for contributing the questions that went into creating this article.
Photo credit courtesy of Tyler Ross
Contributor: Josh Laufer (@joshlaufer)
Editor: Josh Bhagratie (@jshyb_)