Name: Anthony Mazur
Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas
MM: Can you tell me how you first got involved in photography?
AM: I joined my yearbook class as a sophomore in high school, and I had never picked up a camera before, but I felt kind of interested. I went to the first football game and just fell in love with it. I just wanted to keep shooting, so I went to all of the football and volleyball games, and when I went to [the annual journalism conference], there was a teacher and student from Argyle, Texas who mentioned that they sold their photos. I thought, “I could be doing that, too.”
MM: How did selling photos go for you?
AM: One day, I got called down to the principal’s office, and they said that I had [to take my website and photos] all down. He told me that what I was doing was illegal, and that they owned the copyright to the photos, and that I was violating students’ privacy, and he even [implied] that I wasn’t paying my taxes.
When my parents got there, he told me that he would give me an administrative directive to take down all of the photos and that if I didn’t comply, I could be suspended or banned from going to the games. He mentioned that the system could be appealed. And so, I knew that I was right and that this is wrong and that I had to fight this. The truth is, I own these photos, and I’m not going to take “no” for an answer.
MM: Were you able to keep your website and photos online?
AM: [We appealed]. When we finally got the reply in the mail, it said that I did not violate student privacy, FERPA or any other school district policy. And so, we thought that it was pretty clear. But he still said that I couldn’t post my photos online. He just said that I didn’t do anything wrong, but that I still couldn’t do it, so we had to appeal to the school board.
By this time, I posted about it online because it made no sense, and all of a sudden, I have all of these photographers and journalists writing in on Twitter and social media. #IAmAnthony became this huge thing, and then I was sitting in class and got a call that a news crew was outside my house, so I had to get pulled out of school, go back home, and then Fox 4, WFAA, and NBC were all there interviewing me.
We weren’t sure what was going to come from all of this, so we went to the school board meeting and met in private, and it [was] just a bunch of board members who have no idea what they’re talking about. They never really answered the question, but because we came so far and they just left it kind of vague, we just put the pictures back up, and they didn’t really do anything.
MM: With all of the attention from new stations and social media, did anyone noteworthy discover your photography skills?
AM: As this was blowing up in the media, [one of the people who interviewed me] happened to know the photography editor of Sports Illustrated, and so he contacted me saying that he wanted to talk to me, so we started exchanging emails and phone calls. He offered me an opportunity to work for Sports Illustrated.
MM: What was the first event you shot for Sports Illustrated?
AM: We eventually found, coming to Dallas, the U.S. Weightlifting National Championships. It was being held at one of the hotels in Dallas, so I went there for four days of fun and shooting.
One of my favorite parts of that was not only the competition, but the stories around it. Everyone was asking who I was shooting for, and when I would tell them, their eyes lit up. When a photographer is there, they really appreciate their sport being covered.
I had a blast and eventually got published on the site. I really love taking all of these photos and going to all of these big events. I’ve really gotten the hang of it, and it’s really cool.
MM: Why aren’t you majoring in photography if you enjoy it so much and have had this many real-world experiences?
AM: I didn’t want to get a degree in photography because sometimes it’s really hard to get a staff job that’s well paid, and the future is uncertain, so I didn’t want to spend my life’s savings on college to get a degree in photography.
In my opinion, it matters more about your portfolio, and resume. You don’t show the newspaper editor your degree. You show him your pictures.
And so, I chose political science because there is also a basis in constitutional law that is something I’m interested in, especially going through this whole ordeal through the school, fighting for what was legally right and which rights were violated. I really developed a passion for law.
MM: Which route do you want to go with when you graduate from college?
AM: The dream is [to become a] Getty Images photographer. I want to be a photographer, but law and political science is a backup. I’m still interested in it, so it’d still be a cool job, but Getty Images is the dream. I want to be there.