BY LAUREN ADIOVA
It’s rather uncommon to find a successful female sports photographer in what’s largely a male-dominated field.
The job involves carrying a lot of heavy equipment, being in dangerous positions setting up equipment, and worrying about athletes falling on the camera.
But that doesn’t stop one young lady from pursuing her dreams of being a photographer. Shooting at baseball, swimming, tennis and other sporting events is none other than Lida DeGroote, a 19-year-old college student born and raised in Laguna Beach.
Currently attending the University of Arizona, DeGroote works two internships, puts herself through school, juggles 16 units, works a part-time job at a pharmacy, and participates in monthly community service or a philanthropy commitment for her sorority.
“Having played sports myself and being involved in extreme sports, I think it surprises people how strong I am and what I am able to handle,” DeGroote tells Patch. “So far I have been blessed to work with very supportive teams and co-workers that all want to help, teach, and encourage me to become better. I think the hardest thing has been that most of the athletes and other photographers think I am a cheerleader or one of the girls on the pom line [dance team], and are taken aback when I tell them I am a photographer. I think sometimes they might not take me seriously until they see my work. Then they are impressed.”
Despite this, DeGroote chose this profession for her “love of sports and being able to capture a moment, the thrill and emotion of what is happening at the time, and how much athletes and the community appreciate that image.”
In Laguna Beach, DeGroote attended TOW, Thurston, and graduated in 2011 from Laguna Beach High. At LBHS, she was influenced by Peter Tiner, her photo teacher, and Carolen Sadler, her yearbook teacher.
“They were both very patient and they allowed their students to use their creativity,” said DeGroote. “Whenever I had a suggestion, they encouraged me to use and develop my ideas. They always said my ideas were good, and I think that developed confidence in the work I was doing. Mr. Tiner always believed in each one of his students, and always gave them positive reinforcement. He always loved my work, and he inspired me to do my best.”
Continuing her career as sports photographer after high school, DeGroote has shot the NCAA baseball championship super regionals, the USA Olympic women's water polo team (featuring her LBHS teammate Annika Dries), the PAC-12 men’s basketball tournament, the Angels, the Clippers and the Lakers.
DeGroote continues to do her best at what she loves, and says that women add to the field of sports photography through their telling of “the story of the game through photographs, and that usually means capturing the emotion of the game, knowing when that emotion is going to occur. I feel that women have a real sense of that, and having played sports, maybe I am able to read that and anticipate it better because of that, too."