News Column

Kuhn shares stories through his photography

July 2, 2014

By Amanda Dodson, The Stokes News, Walnut Cove, N.C.

July 02--EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a four part series about local sports photographers who contribute to The Stokes News. It will include who they are, what schools they cover, and tips on shooting high school athletics.

Walk into a sporting event at West or South Stokes and you'll hear fans cheering for their team but it doesn't drown out the yells for "Kuhndog", a nickname affectionately given to photographer Jimmy Kuhn. A fan favorite, Kuhn is a regular at games and with a camera in hand is constantly moving looking for the best angle to capture the perfect photo.

"I like getting 'that' shot. That one frozen moment that you can look at the photo and it tells a story," Kuhn said.

And the photographer has a myriad of stories to tell. He captured West Stokes football and soccer state championship wins along with two other games that stand out in particular.

"First would be a grand slam hit by Dalton Boles at West Stokes after his father Ty passed away. That shot of him and then the shot of his mother and grandmother reacting as he rounded the bases are just priceless because his grandmother passed away soon after," Kuhn said. "Second is a dark end zone picture of Austin Long diving into the end zone scoring the game winning touchdown in the closing seconds of the game that sent West to the state championship game."

Kuhn is more than just a technical sports photographer; he is known to take a creative artistic approach in everything he shoots.

"I think it may come from being born in a holler in an old coal camp in WV. I always liked to read and still do. But the bookmobile would come down in our holler during the summer and I would get books on ancient Rome and Greece, on space and the ocean. So I have always been a dreamer. I have always been able to look at something and see it in a different more in depth way," he said.

His likeability and quick wit have allowed the father of five to do more than just capture photos but garner friendships with many on the sidelines.

Denise Tedder, a mother of three West Stokes athletes said his photography is special because he really cares about the kids he photographs.

"I have so many pictures from him of all my kids playing sports. Those pictures mean more to me than anything because the memories of them playing will live on forever," Tedder said. "He has been there since my oldest went through and even beyond that. If you give him a schedule he tries to make the games. I know all the kids look for him on the sidelines and most parents do too. For me, I count on Jimmy to help cherish memories that my kids are making! "

Kuhn's interest in photography was sparked at a young age when relatives visited and his mother pulled out boxes of old black and white photos.

"She also let me take her Kodak Brownie Hawkeye on field trips when I was in elementary school. It was the old style camera that you looked down through the top," Kuhn said.

During the throes of raising a family Kuhn said he put the hobby aside because there wasn't time or money to pursue it. But in 2004 picked it up again and invested in a Canon 20D. Determined to teach himself how to best shoot, he buckled down and studied.

"A lot of it is common sense if the person takes the time to sit down and learn. People think you buy a camera and just push the button then wonder why their pics are not as good. But you would not buy a piano and expect to play Beethoven without practice," Kuhn said.

The practice paid off and soon people were asking to purchase his pictures.

"First, it started off as a hobby and my kids attended West Stokes so I shot there. I never even imagined it would become what it has today. I have shot primarily at West, South, East Surry and Mount Airy because they are all close. But of those schools I have shot mostly at West. I truly care about all the kids no matter where I'm shooting. I hope the work shows that," Kuhn said.

Over the years Kuhn has donated the pictures he's taken to the schools to be used in their yearly annuals.

"I've always appreciated the players, parents, school administrators and coaches that have made me feel welcome," Kuhn said.

Although Kuhn has turned his love of photography into a profession he's quick to share ways parents can capture their own quality sports photos without investing thousands in equipment.

"A carpenter can build their house with an inexpensive hammer. A camera is just a tool and you have to know how to use it," Kuhn said.

He tells parents knowing your camera is crucial. He suggests learning how to shoot in manual instead of auto because it will drastically improve the quality of pictures.

"YouTube is only a click away and has all the information you would ever need to become a better shooter. I used to follow a couple of guys on YouTube and they were called Lightenupandshoot."

Kuhn said he gets satisfaction from seeing a player, parent, or grandparent smiling when they look at a picture he's taken.

"I've captured several special moments over the last few years that would have been lost to history. But now it is frozen forever and it won't just be a story, it'll be a visual history. In a way, I will live forever just like the people in the pics or the photographer that took the pics that I used to look at when I was a kid. Other than my children and grandchildren I'm leaving something behind," Kuhn said.

To view over 30,000 of Jimmy Kuhn's sports pictures visit or contact him at Jimmy Kuhndog Kuhn on Facebook.

Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter @AmandaTDodson.


(c)2014 The Stoke News (Walnut Cove, N.C.)

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Source: Stokes News, The (Walnut Cove, NC)

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