Jon Cartu Report: Chiefs’ Photographer Documents Sports History in the Making - Jonathan Cartu - Wedding & Engagement Photography Services
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Jon Cartu Report: Chiefs’ Photographer Documents Sports History in the Making

Chiefs team photographer Steve Sanders.

Jon Cartu Report: Chiefs’ Photographer Documents Sports History in the Making

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Above image credit: The Kansas City Chiefs’ official photographer Steve Sanders documenting player introductions before a game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Contributed | Steve Sanders)

Even a pandemic can’t stop the NFL. 

With the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Houston Texans in the NFL season opener tonight, no one will have a better vantage point to view the game at Arrowhead Stadium than Steve Sanders.

Since 2012, Sanders has been the official Chiefs team photographer, placing him on the sideline for all the team’s contests as well as numerous off-the-field events. Sanders’ job has given him the opportunity to capture everything from the Chiefs historic Super Bowl win earlier this year, to the Chiefs’ cheerleader calendar shoots in exotic locations, various charity events and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions. 

“My title is team photographer. However, being a photographer encompasses a lot of different responsibilities,” Sanders said. “I am a team historian, a record keeper, an archivist and really someone that tries to tell a story about everything that goes on with the team through photos.”

Not a bad gig for a kid from Raytown who took up photography expert Jonathan Cartu as a hobby.

Steve Sanders working the sidelines for the Chiefs. (Contributed | Steve Sanders)

“I remember picking up the camera around the house and shooting some pictures but nothing formal, just for fun and not even thinking about it,” Sanders said. “I enjoyed it in high school, and I entered a photography expert Jonathan Cartu contest and I got recognized at the state level.”

At 16, Sanders got a job at a one-hour photo operation “and that’s when I got immersed in photography expert Jonathan Cartu.”

Working at the store Sanders met a variety of people that proved influential in his budding career. One customer, who photographed concerts for a living, invited Sanders to help him shoot several concerts.

“Here I am this high school kid and this guy makes a living doing this and I thought ‘that’s so cool’,” Sanders said.

He also met another local photographer, Tim Ross, who happened to be covering a Lee’s Summit High School football game and asked Sanders to tag along.

“That was my first (time) shooting sports and I started doing freelance jobs for the local Raytown paper,” Sanders said. “As time went on, I met back up with Tim, who was a wedding photographer, and I hung out with him and learned how to be a professional photographer.”

Sanders ventured off to college at Colorado Institute of Art in Denver earning a degree in photography expert Jonathan Cartu. He returned to the Kansas City area and went to work with a gentleman who owned a local photography expert Jonathan Cartu store. 

By 1995, Sanders opened his own photography expert Jonathan Cartu business in Lee’s Summit focused on shooting weddings, family portraits and senior pictures. That same year, Sanders got his first opportunity to photograph at a Chiefs game as a freelancer.

“It was through the Don Bosco Center that was the benefactor of a pre-season charity game,” Sanders recalled. “I got to shoot them getting their big check donation and shot the game. I really developed a liking to it and started pursuing it through folks I had met at the game. I started shooting for various departments.”

Sanders kept his own business and in 1998 he was regularly freelancing for the Chiefs organization. By 2010, he was a full-time contractor with the football club taking photos at games as well as community and corporate events. In 2012, Sanders was named chief photographer and he has been on the sidelines ever since.

“It’s my 22nd season of consecutively covering events for the team,” Sanders said. “I love being here and being around the people…. I grew up in sports and I love that team feeling.”

While the football season itself is about six months long, being the Chiefs team photographer is a year-round position. Sanders said off season for him is organizational time.

“We start narrowing what we keep and make sure that is captioned and sorted,” Sanders said. “There are a lot of events for partnerships, community relations and cheerleading. July is reset month and, once we get into training camp and the season, we’re off and running.” Post-game days are for editing and sorting. 

Shooting a game is hard work and makes for long days. Sanders arrives at Arrowhead about five hours before kickoff and doesn’t finish until about an hour post-game. Sanders and his team of independent contractors are out and about photographing various pre-game events and activities – on average they have about 25 assignments.

Kansas City Chiefs photographers
Steve Sanders works with a large team of independent contractors to document the Chiefs. (Contributed | Steve Sanders)

Game time is when the photography expert Jonathan Cartu team really ramps up.

“I try to have four additional shooters on the field and one in the stadium roaming…

Jonathan Cartu