Olivia Dabinett ’25 loves sports, whether it’s playing on the soccer field or capturing action footage of athletes during a game. After deciding to retire from the women’s soccer team this fall, Dabinett remains involved in the world of college athletics through photography and videography.
Dabinett has always loved photography, but she never had the chance to fully pursue it, she explained. “In high school, I shot a lot of sports stuff,” she said. “I would do it on the side, because I practiced a sport that took up a lot of my time[and I was] trying to get into college, trying to get recruited.
When Dabinett took a year off to play football in Spain before coming to College for her freshman year, she began experimenting with different types of photography, such as landscape, urban architecture, and portraiture. She also took many photos of her friends and teammates.
Last summer, Dabinett was a video production intern at The Financial Times and Money-Media, where she learned about different types of video and photo editing software. Thanks to this work, she was able to get in touch with a fashion photographer who invited her to follow him during an open photo shoot in New York.
After taking her first professional portraits at the photoshoot, Dabinett decided to host a self-directed photoshoot, also in New York, where she rented a studio for three hours and took free photos. Among his subjects were two models from New York Fashion Week.
“I created a mini ad and posted it on my Instagram,” Dabinett said. “I was like, ‘[It’s] mutual portfolio building – I want to build my photography portfolio, you want to build your model portfolio, your business, your CV, your LinkedIn. ‘”
Over the summer, after battling health issues and talking to her coach, who Dabinett said understood her situation very well, Dabinett decided to quit playing on the women’s soccer team. But thanks to her passion for photography and the experience she has under her belt after the summer, she and her coach have found a new way for her to stay involved. Today, Dabinett works with the women’s soccer team taking portraits of her former teammates, taking photos during matches and creating content for the team’s Instagram account (@ephswsoccer).
Dabinett says her media work with the women’s soccer team — now an official paid job on campus — is a great way to spend time with her former teammates, even if she’s not on the field. “While it’s really hard for me to walk away from the sport game-wise, I still want to be involved in a way that I love,” she said. “So [the coach and I] I worked on this stuff and found that it would be mutually beneficial, because for me, I would cover all my friends and everyone I had played with. And for her, it can be a way to get our team out – it could help team morale and it could also help attract potential recruits.
Using photographic equipment she bought with the money she earned from her summer internship, Dabinett organized a media day for the women’s soccer team, during which she took photos of her former teammates and created Instagram reels using short video clips of the team. After the media day, other sports teams began approaching him about his photography and videography skills.
“A lot of D[ivision] I schools do this for their teams no questions asked, but here it’s different – it’s a D[ivision] School III,” she explained. “They don’t really do that stuff here. So, for me, I saw an opportunity to do something, and a bunch of people jumped on it.
Although Dabinett has not yet worked out with the College how she can work for other sports teams, she said she hopes to be able to organize media days for other teams in the future. For now, she remains busy with her work for the football team, as well as her work as an action photographer for Sports Information.
“It’s so gratifying, because [I’m] give something back to the team,” she said. “I love giving back to other sports, because I know what it’s like to give back, and you want to watch it back.”
Dabinett, who now has her own professional website, also works with other members of the College community who seek photography services. On Sunday, Dabinett hosted a free portrait session at the Spencer Studio Art Building. Ten students signed up for time slots.
Dabinett said that while she loves sports photography, she also finds joy in taking personal portraits. “I love covering sports,” she said. “I’ve watched the sport all my life and I love every team here. But I also like the portrait. I think it’s amazing. It’s like a completely different form of expression.