Sports and portrait photographer Casey Schneider, Defy Focus Photography


We got ‘In the BUFF’ with sports and portrait photographer, Casey Schneider! Shedding light on his inspirations, style, and more, Schneider shares with us his influences, creative process, and why he uses Paul C. Buff, Inc.

What sparked your interest in photography?

My interest in photography started at a young age. My aunt was a photographer and she sadly passed away in a rafting accident when I was 13. My one wish after that, was that I wanted her cameras so I could learn to shoot photos on 35mm film. I spent a couple years teaching myself the basics of working the cameras and how to set up my photos. When i got into high school, I took photography but the classroom stuff just didn’t interest me, so I left my passion of taking photos behind and pursued a career in firefighting. I soon found myself taking photos and enjoying photography once again a few years after that. Once I picked up my first DSLR camera, that’s where it all really took off. I packed my stuff and moved 12 hours away from home to chase my dream of being an action sports photographer. That was five years ago, and here I am still doing what I love with an amazing job and passion for taking photos. 

What made you choose Paul C. Buff, Inc. for your studio strobe needs?

After seeing some of the top action sports photographers using external flashes, I knew I had to get one of my own and become more unique in this world of sports photography. Action Sports are very fast paced, so after doing some research, I soon realized that the Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 was gonna be the perfect light for me and what I wanted to accomplish. Portability and power made this light an easy selection for me!

Sports and portrait photographer Casey Schneider, Defy Focus Photography

 When did photography turn into a business for you?

When i first moved to Southern California, I wasn’t known at all by anyone and really had to prove myself and my work in order to actually find work. After months and months of perfecting my own style, I finally had made a name for myself that people within the sports world could recognize. At that time, I knew I could succeed doing what I love if I kept working hard at it.

 Do you have a “Go To” lighting setup?

Because I currently only have one light, my “Go To” setup is the Paul C Buff Einstein 640 strobe with the long throw hood and/or the beauty dish. I also use the Cybersync setup to trigger my strobe wirelessly and without hassle. 

What’s your creative process leading up to a shoot?

I always get to all my shoot locations early. I love to look at what landscape I have around me, where the sun will rise or set, best position for my lighting, and a few other things. While using the Paul C. Buff strobe, I absolutely love shooting directly into the sun. This is something not a lot of photographers chose to do, but that’s part of what keeps me separate from the rest. 

What/who influences you and your work?

I am a very self motivated individual but I do have influences in my life that keep me pushing to be the best and to never stop learning. The athletes I work with are hands down the biggest influence to me. Many of them have been around and know exactly what good quality and good angles are. They constantly help guide me and give me suggestions to better myself and my work.

What would be your dream photo shoot?

My dream photo shoot would probably be an epic sunset photo session done on a sand track right on the beach somewhere exotic. I’m a huge fan of shooting during the “golden hour” and during sunset. If i could find a sand track, some palm trees, and good motocross riders to rip around while I shoot, that would be my ideal shoot and I know I could provide some incredible images to share with the world. 

Is there a photographer, either past or present, that inspires you?

There are a few photographers that have really stood out to me in the past years. First one is sports photographer, Chris Tedesco. Chris has become a good friend throughout the past few years and has given me a ton of advice on lighting and camera settings. I owe him a lot of credit for all he’s done and his motivating work he puts out there. Another photographer I’ve always looked up to is Nicholas Cahill. He is an award winning film maker/photographer who has taken some amazing images that highly motivate me to keep pushing my knowledge of my cameras. He has taken time to answer questions, leave feedback, and compliment my work. For that, I cant thank him enough! 

Sports and portrait photographer Casey Schneider, Defy Focus Photography

Do you have a favorite photograph you’ve taken so far in your career?

Tough choice on this one! I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some amazing opportunities to work with some very talented people. I have a few photos that come to mind when thinking about my favorite images. I have an image of legendary freestyle motocross athlete Nate Adams that really stands out to me. It was taken out in a place known as Wyvern Ranch. I was using my Einstein 640 at the time and the image came out beyond amazing and ended up getting published in my first magazine ad. Couldn’t have created the image without lighting equipment from Paul C. Buff!   

What advice would you give a photographer that is just starting out with off-camera flash?

My best advice for someone starting out with off camera flash would be to keep testing new angles and ideas. Don’t be afraid to use the sunlight for your images, but also don’t be afraid to shoot looking directly into the sun. I am where i am today because of constant trial and error. I spent countless hours playing with power levels, camera settings, and angles to figure out exactly what works best to create the image you see in your head. You can’t be afraid to fail sometimes! Failure is a great way to learn and teach yourself how to succeed. If something doesn’t work the first time, change it and try it again. I see too many photographers get frustrated and give up just because their images aren’t coming out the way they want them to. Never give up! Keep trying ’til you get it right and then remember what worked and what didn’t.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals that i have set for the future, are to continue to build my lighting collection from Paul C. Buff and to also build up my portfolio of unique images that match the creativity of my mind. Once I get some more equipment in the collection, I have some ideas to create images that I’ve never seen attempted or created before. I want to continue to stand out from the rest by learning more and more every day and bettering myself as a photographer in the action sports world. I have some big plans to get a full art gallery up containing some of my favorite images throughout the years that people can come look at and purchase. I want to reach a point in my career where I can be the influencer, and the one who can speak and motivate the new generation of photographers trying to succeed in the sports world. I would love to host classes where I can bring new comers out to the moto track and really learn how to get some amazing shots to take home. Motivation and hard work are what got me here, and I want others to see that they can also do the same thing to become a successful photographer!

PHOTOS BY: Casey Schneider

About Casey Schneider

Sports and portrait photographer, Casey Schneider of Defy Focus Photography

Casey Schneider is a sports and portrait photographer based in Southern California. Photographing everything from wildlife, action sports, vehicles, portraits, and more, Schneider capitalizes on his passion for creating unique and impactful images.


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