Mason Rife: Creating athletics inspired content

Tearing his shoulder his sophomore year of high school changed Mason Rifes' life forever. He was struggling with where to go next, knowing his playing days were behind him. This was a daunting challenge for Rife until he found God. 

“I did not really want to do anything for a while. That was just really sad for me. I turned to God and asked him, ‘what should I do?’ That injury gave me a different perspective on life,” Rife said. “Things aren’t always going to go the way that you want. There is always a different path and God has a plan for everybody. Everything happens for a reason.”

As just a freshman in college, Rife has made an immediate impact on campus by taking photos for basketball, football, baseball and softball. 

“I knew I loved doing this video and photography stuff and decided to do that full time and put all my energy and effort into it,” Rife said. 

Everything that Rife learned has been self-taught from YouTube. 

“I never had a teacher. Everything I have learned is through trial and error and just going out and shooting myself,” Rife said. “I will take a picture and say, ‘oh that does not look good. What do I need to do to fix it?’ I will come back to my workstation and take notes on what I need to do next time. I will go on YouTube and see what top graders are doing to their stuff and why is it so good.”

The inspiration to begin doing photography started in third grade when Rife and his friends started a YouTube channel where they played wiffle ball and basketball. 

“The YouTube channel got a lot of positive feedback from people online. As the channel grew and we just continued to create videos that were fun, I became interested in buying new equipment and learning how to use a camera. I would just watch YouTube videos all day on how to edit and how to improve the videos,” Rife said.

Rife credits his success partially to being a former athlete.

“By playing basketball, football and baseball in high school, I can relate to many different athletes regardless of the sport. You understand what the players will think is worthy of posting,” Rife said. 

Rife’s favorite type of shot to get is what the athlete is doing without the ball and capturing the emotion that happens after a big play.

“A lot of photographers focus on players shooting. I like to focus on athletes without the ball. What are they doing when they are not the main focus? This brings something different to the table. People like different things,” Rife said. “I would rather capture the emotion that happens after a big play than the play itself.” 

Rife credits a number of people for helping him become who he is today, but he specifically mentions his father for his work ethic.  

“My dad works his butt off by providing for our family by starting his day at 5 a.m. and not getting home until 7 p.m. He leaves before breakfast and gets home after dinner,” Rife said. 

Rife also mentions YouTuber NickInTheCut for his influence on Rife’s photography and videography. 

“NickInTheCut has shaped my work,” Rife said. “I look at his work and am amazed by it.”

Rife's piece of advice for upcoming photographers is to just start and, if you have a dream, chase it–understanding that it is not going to happen overnight and having patience in the process.

“You have to be a minnow to become a shark,” Rife said. “You have to just start and be consistent. Being consistent is what you have to focus on the most.”

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