On the sideline, in a gym or maybe just outside in the fresh air, one might get a glimpse of Havre de Grace photographer Kendrick Sumpter relieving some stress.
Sumpter, a 32-year old, is somewhat of a self-taught photographer with an eye for sports. A 2006 graduate of Havre de Grace High School, Sumpter attended The John Carroll School his first three years of high school.
Sumpter then spent a few years at Harford Community College before transferring to Goldey-Beacom College in Delaware, majoring in business administration with a concentration in sports management. Photography was not on the agenda or course curriculum.
It wasn’t until later, as he began taking photos of his younger sister, Kayla Sumpter, playing basketball and running track at Havre de Grace, that his passion began.
“I actually didn’t pick up a camera until, I want to say it was Kayla’s freshman year or maybe sophomore year,” Kendrick Sumpter said. “That’s when I bought my camera, just as a hobby, just to take pictures of her during games.”
And as he points out now, those early pictures of Kayla — a 2019 Havre de Grace graduate — were nothing special.
“When I first bought the camera, it was just, it was trial and error, just point and shoot,” Sumpter said with a chuckle. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
Sumpter, when not shooting pics, works at a hotel in Aberdeen, he’s a varsity boys basketball assistant at Havre de Grace and he’s a volunteer boys hoop coach at Cecil Community College.
He says he didn’t really start taking landscape photos and the like until early last year.
“I didn’t do any of that until probably around the beginning of last year when everything with COVID kind of started it,” he said. “You couldn’t gather, you couldn’t be with people, but you could go on nature walks, so I started taking random pictures here and there at the state park, at the lighthouse, something to keep time moving while we were all at a standstill.”
The camera Sumpter bought some five years go was a Nikon product. He no longer has it. “I actually sold it to another beginner and I switched brands, so I sold all my Nikon gear and went to Sony,” Sumpter said.
Sumpter says he uses a Sony a7 III right now but he’s making changes. “I had five lenses and I actually just sold two of them to get another camera,” Sumpter said. “To get another sports specific camera.” It’s also a Sony.
Regardless of camera brand, Sumpter’s sports specific focus turned to fellow Havre de Grace resident Immanuel Quickley, the John Carroll alum who is now a member of the New York Knicks.
“It was actually, probably his junior year, going into senior year,” Sumpter said of when his work with Quickley began. “We would just be in the gym and I would have my camera and I’d just randomly take...like if he’s working out, hey let’s try this, let’s see how this works. That’s when I still had my Nikon and they were horrible pictures.”
Sumpter says he took pictures of Quickley and Patriots teammate Montez Mathis, but they just weren’t good.
“I looked back at them a couple of weeks ago, I was like, this is so bad,” he said. “At the time I thought they were great, I had no idea what I was doing.”
Sumpter searched out help. Sumpter says he asked the brother of a friend questions, but he had no idea what he was talking about. “He’d give me feedback and I had no idea, so I actually did take a class, I took one class after I graduated from college,” Sumpter said. “I took an intro photography class at Harford, it was a quick eight-week class. One day a week and it got me to learn some of the terminology.”
The class was helpful, but Sumpter says going out with his mentor Kevin Ewing and shooting with him was the best medicine. “They say, to become a better photographer, you have to just keep shooting. No matter what it is, shoot, shoot, shoot,” Sumpter said. “That’s what I’d do. Whenever I could find a pick up game, I would shoot.”
“I was just happy that he allowed me to, I guess, capture some of the journey,” Sumpter said referencing Quickley.
Sumpter has taken several pictures of Quickley, but none came in game action at John Carroll as Sumpter was an assistant coach on the Patriots bench.
“My goal, ultimately, is to be a sports photographer,” Sumpter said. “I do dabble in other things, but I would love to be a sports photographer, whether it’s shooting him, an NFL game, really any. I love sports, so any type of sport, I would love to do. If I can get to Madison Square Garden and they allow me to take it, oh, 100 percent I’d definitely do it.”