Latrobe native makes most of 'dream job' as Baltimore Orioles photographer
A day at the office for Dan Kubus is cheering crowds, the crack of the bat and a front-row seat to America's pastime.
The Latrobe native still has to pinch himself every time he enters Camden Yards in Baltimore, but he's getting used to being the assistant team photographer for the Orioles.
“It's been awesome working here. I've grown tremendously as a photographer in the last two years,” he said.
A 2012 graduate of Greater Latrobe Senior High School, Kubus, 23, is one of two staff photographers tasked with documenting the Orioles and making them look good regardless of how they play.
Although chief photographer Todd Olszewski has been his mentor since the start of the 2016 season, Kubus acknowledges the influence of his father, Jim Kubus, Pittsburgh Pirates photographer Dave Arrigo and a host of Pittsburgh-area news photographers.
“This tight-knit group of shooters pushed me and accepted me into their world and gave me some of the ins and outs,” he said.
Kubus began his path to the major leagues while in high school, when he took freelance assignments from the Latrobe Bulletin and the Tribune-Review. At Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, he worked for the athletic department, shooting football, basketball, baseball, field hockey, track and other sports.
As he neared graduation, he got an internship with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he learned about the importance of photography in the operation of a Major League Baseball team. He got the job with the Orioles in March 2016, as he was completing a bachelor's degree in visual communications and a specialization in photojournalism.
“Dan was fortunate to get a dream job early in his career,” said Jim Kubus, chief photographer for the Tribune-Review from 1992 to 2005.
Dan Kubus describes his father as his biggest influence and his best teacher.
“What he did always interested me. There'd be times when I'd be watching a Steelers game, and I'd also be watching to see where my dad was on the sideline,” he said. “Once I started showing interest, that's when he started giving me advice and pushing me to grow as a photographer.”
Jim Kubus, director of creative services for 535 Media, said he enjoys following his son's career on social media.
“I know Dan is very passionate about his job. He loves to document the rich history of baseball,” he said.
Kubus' photographs of the team's home games are used by the Orioles organization on its website and its social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He submits photos to the social media team, which posts them during the game.
His photos are used in more traditional ways by the team — for tickets, billboards, programs, media guides and other in-house publications. Portraits of each player usually are shot during spring training in Sarasota, Fla.
Kubus does not travel with the team for away games. Although he was not at this year's spring training, he hopes to go next year. He last shot the Orioles when they were in Pittsburgh Sept. 26-27.
Kubus said shooting a game as a team photographer is different from shooting a game as a news photographer.
“It's not exactly what happened in the game. It's like a PR showing of the good things the team did regardless of result,” he said. “Even if the team lost 0-10, I still need to come up with a gallery of good things the team had done.”
When the Orioles are away, Kubus still works a 9-5 day archiving photos and filling photo requests.
Now that the 2017 season is over — the Orioles finished 75-87 Sunday with a loss in Tampa Bay — he is busy editing, archiving and getting ready for 2018.
Since he shoots 500 to 800 photos per game, there are a lot of images to go through. He appreciates the freedom the Orioles give him to choose the best shots.
“There's a trust in me that I can produce a gallery of important moments from the game,” he said.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280.