DPPF Grant Winner Jaden Powell is a Conway, Arkansas-based photographer studying at the University of Central Arkansas, where he is the first African American and youngest head athletics photographer for their athletics department. Jaden was also the recipient of a year-long mentorship with the DPPF, and he is working primarily with photographer Jamie Squire. More about Jaden

Jaden shares back stories of three photos from his winning portfolio.

This photo is of Ro Dominguez – we are both huge Kobe Bryant fans. So, after complications on media day I was able to get a one on one shoot with Ro. There was no better time than to try this out. This shot was inspired by Jon Soohoo from 1998. Though I was not born till 2000 I grew up seeing this image. Knowing at that moment I had full control of the lighting, along with the wood court I thought why not recreate one of my favorite images of all time.
This was my first one-off project with my school’s athletics department aside from shooting games. As they introduced our school’s Social Justice Committee formed by all athletes. They used the phrase “We Are One” coming out of the horrific social climate of the summer of 2020 to promote unity across races, cultures, jobs, economic status etc. The images created featured a custom helmet and shirts dedicated to this committee and to show what our athletes stand for not just off the field but on the field as well. The athlete featured here is former bear and my fraternity brother Dwight N. Blakey, who is a founding member of this committee.
This photo from the finals day of the 2021 Texas Relays features Shaun Maswanganyi, who later represented his home country of South Africa in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. He anchored the 4x100m relay to at that moment a NCAA leading, and 2nd in the world time of 38.39.
My track career ended after a reoccurring injury my freshman year of college in 2018. Being a sprinter and anchoring the 4x100m and 4x400m, I remember the preparation and that feeling of crossing that finish line. So I stood from the start of the day through the blazing sun for this one moment. I understood who was there and what they were capable of and I loved every minute of it.
The DPPF is thrilled to be able to further Jaden’s promising career!