In seventh grade, Maddie Malhotra took a digital media class at Sierra Middle School in Parker, Colorado. She found it interesting — and she convinced her parents that she “needed” a DSLR camera. She knew there was a yearbook at her school, but she was not aware of what being on staff actually involved.
Her neighbor (conveniently, an adviser at another school) noticed her interest in photography and suggested that she consider yearbook as an eighth-grader. Malhotra took that advice and signed up, even though she had “no idea about the program’s national reputation or what being on staff could mean.”
The stars seemed to align.
Malhotra wanted to learn as much about photography as possible. She was looking for opportunities to shoot, get feedback and challenge herself as much as possible. She often accepted assignments photographing athletics.
“I didn’t really know anything about sports, and I am definitely not athletic, but I found myself loving it,” she said. “Other staff photographers tended to shy away from those assignments, but I thrived on getting past the creative and technical challenges.”
By year’s end, it was a given that she wanted to continue yearbook in high school. By continuing to shoot sports and improve her craft, she captured top honors in NSPA’s Picture of the Year competitions for both Sports Action and Sports Reaction, as a junior.
Her adviser took note of her other skills as well. She liked design, was a writer and was great at conceptualizing. By senior year, she was editor-in-chief of Golden Images at Chaparral High School. The volume she edited won a Gold Crown from CSPA and was an NSPA Pacemaker Finalist, making both lists the first time it was recognized nationally.
“Being EIC was a full-time job” she recalled, “but I loved it, and I knew I wanted to major in journalism.”
So, she headed to Boston University where she designed her studies around a focus on photography while continuing to take design, reporting and editing classes.
Her work at The Daily Free Press involved more work in sports. “I shot a lot of hockey,” she said, “but I also got to shoot concerts and campus events.”
After graduating in 2018 and still seeking opportunities to learn, Malhotra stayed in Boston, assisting the creative director for BU marketing and communication.
On top of that, she interned for an array of publications and media outlets, including a Little League organization, The Players’ Tribune, the NFL as a Patriots correspondent and the Boston Red Sox. After less than a year with the Red Sox organization, she was named a full-time staff photographer.
Now her work involves all of the team’s photo needs. “People have no idea how much effort it takes to support a team,” Malhotra said.
In addition to herself and the club’s photo manager, the marketing department’s creative services team includes a pair of photo interns, several designers and a number of social media specialists.
“Whether it’s a game day or not, we are working and posting,” she explained. “Game days are definitely longest. It’s normal to arrive four to six hours ahead of the game to set up the file structure, gear up and shoot pre-game appearances and other assignments.”
After that, it’s off to the clubhouse and batting practice for some behind-the-scenes work.
Interns often cover the pre-game and warm-ups, then Malhotra moves behind home plate for the first couple of innings before moving into the photo pits near the dugouts.
“Though we edit during the game, there’s a mad rush to edit afterward,” she said. “It might take another hour or so to pack up after.”
Looking to the future, Malhotra said while Boston feels like home now, she knows she may need to be open to following opportunities that will allow her to advance and keep shooting full-time for a major sports franchise. But she trusts her passions will continue to open doors as they have in the past.
After attending Rocky Mountain Journalism camp repeatedly as a student, she returned twice more as a camp assistant and photographer. When Herff Jones was looking for an adviser/editor team to make instructional Yearbook Academy videos, Malhotra and her middle school adviser Jed Palmer accepted the assignment and starred in the six-part series on photography.
Because Malhotra traces the roots for her work back to her yearbook experiences, it’s easy for her to see connections.
“There was nothing like opening the first box of the book I edited,” she said. “I couldn’t stop smiling all day.”
And, though she now sees her work being shared constantly, it still has an impact.
“Now it’s less about me and more about the team, but it still helps connect people,” she explained. “That’s what it’s all about.”