We had the good fortune of connecting with Cooper Neill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cooper, how do you think about risk?
As a full-time freelance photographer, I am my own business and stepping away from a staff gig with a newspaper to go out on my own was one of the riskiest things I could have done but sometimes you just have to bet on yourself. I left the newspaper and the salary / benefits that come along with it to build something of my own which looking back on it was a great decision. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I were in our early 20s, no mortgage, no family we were responsible for and could afford to be broke – and for a while we were. It takes time to build your own business but I have always been a very driven person and am incredibly lucky to have an incredibly patient and supportive life partner. If I had stayed in the newspaper world I would most likely have lost my job in one of the many rounds of layoffs but instead I just covered my third World Series for Major League Baseball, have been traveling the country for the NFL and working on national news stories and campaigns for folks like The New York Times, ESPN, iHeartRadio and a handful of other clients and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Growing up my passion was sports and when I was in school I fell in love with storytelling. That’s what brought me into the world of journalism and has turned into a career as a visual storyteller. I always felt there was a disconnect between the sports world and the longform storytelling I loved to do and over time have been able to blend the two together for outlets like The New York Times, ESPN and others. Everyone has a story and I love finding a unique way to share that no matter what it is.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite spots around town are all close to downtown. Hide in Deep Ellum is my favorite spot for drinks, The Bomb Factory has some great shows, Big Guys has my late night food fix and Ascension has some great breakfast / coffee options for the morning.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to my incredible wife, Laura, who has stuck by my side through it all!