Throughout the month of December you can catch the ‘Respect the Shooter’ photography exhibition at Camaradas (115th St. & 1st Avenue) in East Harlem, where a variety of basketball action shots from photographer Jon Lopez grace the walls of the lounge while capturing the culture of the game at its different levels. A diverse portfolio that includes photos of streetball tournaments, an elite grassroots showcase, and NBA stars at international competition, the exhibition drew a packed house on its premiere night last Monday. Lopez grew up in the Lower East Side and played high school ball with Luis Flores at Norman Thomas HS before transferring to a private boarding institution called the Millbrook School with the help of The Boys Club of New York. When it came time to make a college decision, he passed on athletic scholarships from schools recruiting him in favor of an academic scholarship at Colgate University. He spent two years trying to walk-on at Colgate and was with the team when they played Carmelo Anthony’s Syracuse in 2002. Today, you can catch him at games locally and internationally, doing a different kind of shooting, capturing some of the best moments in the hardwood and blacktop.
Scroll through the photos above to check out some of his art work displayed at Camaradas. Any fans of basketball or just of art in general that live in the NYC area should definitely stop by in December to take in the exhibition, as the four shots above are just some of the many impressive pieces on display.
Below, Lopez explains the story behind the exhibition and how he got here.
The idea of Respect the Shooter is a double-entendre of my affinity for the game, essentially. I grew up playing at the high school level and at the collegiate level. I played playground basketball all of my life. It was an analogy for me because I play my shot on the court as a shooter and then I play my shot from the sidelines as a photographer. So with that in mind, I tried to showcase that through the images that I chose for the gallery viewing.
I took a liking to photography after my grandmother got me a camera. And so overtime I started using the hashtag “respect the shooter.”
The basketball court has always been a sanctuary for me. When I started making pictures, the process—from conceptualization to composition to editing all the way down to the final print—allowed me to express myself in a similarly cathartic way.
For example, the Dyckman photo. I was writing for Bounce Magazine at the time. I was living uptown so I decided I was going to cover Dyckman for that particular summer. That particular photo was from the 2009 championship. I put it on the blog and it got crazy hits. I ended up being published internationally in different publications. That one really got me noticed and changed my career path.
Then I also wanted to show love to some of the other tournaments I’ve been covering. Every summer, I make it a point to hit all the major tournaments in the city. I’ve built relationships with many of the tournament directors and players.
Bobbito [Garcia] started his tournament two summers ago. So one of the photos is a girl climbing the fence, so I called it “Forget the Scooter.” That was at Bobbito’s tournament in Riverside Park. It’s a dope concept because 21 is a New York City thing. It’s certainly played in other places but it’s really a New York thing. So for him to make it a full-court outdoor concept was really dope. And so to have that little girl climb that fence in that particular moment when the guy was taking a jump shot was pretty fantastic and captured New York City basketball at its essence.
Then there’s the one with Team USA doing the Shmoney dance after winning the gold medal at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. I saw this shot from the perspective that not many Europeans even knew what the Shmoney dance was about and what that celebration was for. It represented American basketball in many ways.
In general, photography is just a form of expression.