A decade ago, if someone had told Cary Edmondson one of his photographs would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated, he would have laughed.
“It was a dream of mine while I was working at Save Mart during college to get one of those two-page photo spreads in Sports Illustrated,” Edmondson said.
Reality surpassed that dream earlier this month when Edmondson, the Fresno State head photographer, read a late-night email from a colleague. He and his wife, who works at Stanford Hospital as a nurse, had fallen asleep on the couch at home when he woke up around 12:30 a.m. He said he was brushing his teeth and decided to check his email in the process.
The colleague’s email read, “Congratulations. I’m so mad at you right now, but congratulations!” with an attachment showing a photograph Edmondson had taken of Stanford football player Shayne Skove celebrating an interception during a game last November. The photo was on the cover of the Sports Illustrated’s Aug. 19 issue.
At first, Edmondson was hesitant to believe the good news and thought it was a joke. “I was like, ‘This is a pretty mean joke!’” Edmondson said. He then took to the Internet on his laptop to do some investigative work and found out that it was, in fact, true.
Edmondson said he woke his wife to tell her the exciting news and she tiredly replied that it was great.
“She needed to wake up a little more and then she was excited, too,” Edmondson said.
Edmondson, originally from Clovis, graduated from Clovis High School before attending Fresno City College for his associate’s degree. He then attended Fresno State, where he said he “jumped majors like everybody else does.” He settled into art, mainly focusing on painting and drawing.
In 2001, Edmondson underwent Lasik, a vision-correction surgery. Shortly after that, he discovered photography while watching a fellow classmate give a presentation of his senior project. The presentation included sports photographs, which caught Edmondson’s attention.
Edmondson later worked for The Collegian as a photo editor before joining The Selma Enterprise and later going to work in Florida for a year. He returned to California to work at California State University, Stanislaus before moving back to Fresno State as a photographer, allowing him to return to his roots and reunite with his friends and family. He didn’t hesitate to accept the job at Fresno State, he said.
Edmondson also has his own business in wedding photography, having shot roughly 75 weddings this year alone.
James Ramirez, student assistant photographer, has worked with Edmondson since last May. Ramirez said he has learned photography techniques and made professional connections through Edmondson.
“I guess it first started with your eye, learning about having to have an eye for a picture composition and everything like that,” Ramirez said. “Then as I started picking it up on my own, he helps me even with a lot of professional advice, like if I get freelance gigs. He’ll be there to give me assistance and give me his two cents from his own experience.”
Since his return to Fresno State, Edmondson often can be seen around campus with his camera and observing daily life, which he said is his favorite subject to shoot.
“Sports photography is awesome, but I love photographing people as they go through a day in the life,” he said.
Todd Graves, the senior graphic designer for University Communications, designs print materials for the campus. He works closely with Edmondson in the photography studio and said that he is proud of Edmondson’s work inside and outside of the campus.
“It’s amazing,” Graves said. “To see what he does outside of the university, just on the weekends. I’m a huge football fan and I think he’s made me more of a bigger football fan. Yeah, it’s definitely a big accomplishment. I’m very proud, I think he is well-deserving of it.”
Among his various sports shoots, Edmondson recently photographed a preseason National Football League game in San Francisco, where the 49ers took on the Vikings on Aug. 25.
Edmondson has encouraging words for those who want to join the photography field.
“Exercise patience, always try to wait for the moment and never leave early,” he said. “You never want to leave and end up thinking to yourself that you should have done this or that. Also, practice makes perfect and you have to love what you do.”