Bob DeChiara is a pretty busy guy.
He works in the graphic design industry, is a husband and father to three children and has one of the coolest part-time jobs around – he’s a sports photographer.
In just six years behind the lens, DeChiara, know around town as “Deech”, has an impressive sports resume.
He’s been to TD Garden to take pictures of the Bruins and Celtics, he’s photographed the Patriots at Gillette Stadium and he’s been to Fenway Park for the Red Sox. In April, he photographed the Boston Marathon.
DeChiara was on the field in 2013 as the Sox celebrated their World Series championship and he took pictures when the Bruins made the Stanley Cup playoffs.
David Ortiz, LeBron James, Tom Brady… yep, DeChiara has captured them all, up close and personal.
His work has been in Sports Illustrated’s commemorative book celebrating the Red Sox championship and he had a photo in SI of Alex Rodriguez’s 500th career home run, which occurred at Fenway.
“He’s everywhere,” laughed BHS hockey and golf coach Bob Conceison. “You see him everywhere.”
But the 1982 graduate of Burlington High insists without hesitation, the ventures into the world of professional sports aren’t his favorite assignments with the camera.
In fact, he doesn’t even need a GPS or a parking pass for those.
“The pro stuff comes second to the high school stuff,” said DeChiara. “I’m more attached to the high school kids. When the boys hockey team lost to St. John’s Prep [in the Super 8] last year, I almost cried. It was so disappointing.”
But disappointment isn’t a word that’s thrown around very often when DeChiara and BHS sports come together.
Instead, words used most frequently include awesome, tremendous and creative.
Get the, um, picture?
What turned out to be a potentially interesting hobby evolved quickly into something much larger, as most things seem to do with DeChiara.
“When I do something, I go all out and do it,” he said, “especially if it’s something I like.”
DeChiara did the same thing with golf, transforming a renewed love for the sport into a 5 handicap thanks to hours of practice that included early-morning trips to the links.
A graphic designer for the past 14 years, DeChiara first start dabbling with photography in 2006 after a seminar for work that involved the software Photo Shop.
DeChiara decided to buy a camera and, of course, followed up his purchase with extensive online research and reading of books about photography.
He first dabbled with snapping photos at his son’s little league baseball games and got hooked.
As things progressed, he found a job producing images for Max Preps, an online company that deals with high school sports. DeChiara went all over the state for Max Preps and shot just about every sport offered at local schools.
DeChiara kept searching for new opportunities and eventually started shooting for Cal Sports Media. His first assignment was to shoot the Beanpot hockey tournament in Boston and then he started working minor league hockey games in Manchester, N.H.
As DeChiara’s experience grew, so did his appetite to shoot bigger, more-important assignments.
Around 2011, he applied to several nationwide organizations including Getty Images, US Press Wire and the Associated Press. DeChiara heard from US Press Wire, which is now the USA Today, and was hired to work for them.
“It was luck how it all happened,” said DeChiara. “I was very fortunate.”
And as the old Master Card commercials used to say, getting the best seat in the house for some of Boston’s most memorable sports games?
DeChiara, who managed the boys hockey team while a student at BHS, would also take photos of Burlington High football while his son Cam was on the team. Luckily for many Red Devil athletes, DeChiara decided to keep shooting in the winter and brought him equipment to the Burlington Ice Palace for hockey games.
His love of creativity and design eventually took over.
DeChiara, who had already volunteered to help with the hockey team’s alumni game and developed a website for the boys hockey program, asked Conceison about possibly taking some portrait shots of the Red Devil players.
A photo shoot followed and the results have been some of the most unique and impressive displays that most high school athletes will ever see.
“It’s great,” said Conceison. “It just enhances the interest in our program. It’s funny, if you have an idea about something he’ll say ‘Sure, tell me what your idea is’ and then he’ll work on something and send you an image. He’s that type of a guy.”
“It’s amazing stuff,” said BHS Athletic Director Shaun Hart. “He has God-given talent that’s easy to see.”
Some portraits of the seniors on the football team were hanging on the fence at BHS before the Thanksgiving Day football game against Lexington last year. Fans of both the home and away teams could be seen admiring the images before, during and after the game.
DeChiara said the BHS athletic community is quick to thank him for his efforts.
“I get invited to all of the banquets and the kids can’t thank me enough,” DeChiara said. “They are very appreciative.”
Last year, DeChiara expanded his talents, doing Game Day posters that promoted upcoming seasons or important matchups.
“Did you see those?” said Conceison with a laugh of admiration. “He’s so creative. I’ve had other people look at our website and the pictures and say ‘Wow, that’s amazing. How do you afford that?’ It’s awesome.”
″[The Game Day images] started last year during football,” he said. “When I did it for hockey, I put it on a 20×30 poster.”
DeChiara also did a panorama for the girls hockey team after it won the Middlesex League title that saw each girl individually cut out and featured in a 10×30 poster.
It looked like something that would be seen on a cover of Sports Illustrated.
“He does a lot of the sports,” Hart said. “If we could get him to go to games for all of the teams, we’d do that in a second. We love what he does.”
“I love it,” said DeChiara, who shot all three Red Sox games at Fenway Park last weekend. “It makes me happy knowing that the kids are happy. Not everybody has the cameras or the software to do it or the knowhow to do it and I’m lucky that I can do it for them.”
DeChiara already has his game plan for 2017.
“This year, I’m going to shoot portraits of all of the kids,” he said. “But I’m going to have them do different things like screaming, all sorts of cool things so I can use those pictures for the Game Day photos. We have a lot of cool stuff ahead of us.”
That’s usually the way it works with Deech, full speed ahead.
“The kids love it,” he said. “They’re getting the college and professional treatment at the high school level.”
“Obviously,” added Hart, “it’s art, but he has a clear eye for how to make kids look intense. I almost think there’s another level you can get to as an athlete when you see yourself looking the way he presents you. It’s unbelievable.”