Russ Hons learned to take photos working as a private detective. Five years ago, he started taking sports photos to bring his attention-starved mind into focus. Today, Hons’ commercial photoshoot schedule on any given week might include a University of North Dakota Men’s Hockey, a National Hockey League playoff game, a trip to Medora to capture wild horses or a night spent laying on his back in a dirt field north of town after midnight to capture the northern lights. His hectic schedule and diversity of photo shoot-settings helps make him a better photographer, he says, and for a person that is always curious and looking to see the details of life, it is how he prefers to operate. “I can’t imagine doing things any other way,” he says.
Hons portfolio of work will leave you wanting more, or at least the chance to sit down with him and ask him what it was like to be in attendance at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, spending the day with former UND standout hockey player and current NHLer T.J. Oshie and the Stanley Cup, or watching a massive buffalo bull roll in the dirt in the badlands only 100 yards away. (Through his detective agency, he still captures crime scene images).
Like most in his line of work, he loves the attention his photos get and the smiles they create for people. His approach is to rely on very little editing. “My photos feel raw. I try to get it right in the camera,” he says. “I’m going for a natural look without a lot of manipulation.”
Because his style doesn’t require major time for editing, Hons seems perfect for the culture of now. For hockey events, he takes photos and has them ready in between periods. For GRAND, Hons pulled off two photoshoots in a single morning and had all the shots print-ready that evening. “I know how to change the settings of my equipment on the fly for the setting I’m in,” he says.
Despite his success and love of sports photography, Hons has succeeded in nature work, commercial set-ups and nearly everything else. His national client list is growing as his portfolio grows. A student of the craft, he has traveled to sports photography academies, constantly studies the work of other photographers he admires, and, in his downtime, experiments with unique shots. “Figuring out where to shoot from and the right setting to do it in is exciting and fascinating,” he says. “I’m constantly learning what makes a great photo and I’m always chasing the next opportunity.” G
// To view the full story, check out the digital issue here
PHOTOS BY: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY