BALDWIN (WQOW) – Two years ago, Sam Niebeling found a talent for photography.
“The first time I held a camera was my freshman year, and I was like, ‘ooh, I like that,’ said Niebeling, a student photographer at St. Croix Central High School.
He never had a passion for sports, but through connections with Spring Valley and St. Croix Central High Schools, he began showing up to games with a camera.
“The first game I shot with Central, when I shot the game, I was like ‘how did I do that? “Said Niebeling.” It was cool because I brought the guy down to the sideline and I was impressed. with, let me see what else I can do. “
School staff were also impressed and asked Sam to contribute to the yearbook.
“They used three or four of my photos and I was like wow they used my stuff!” Niebeling said.
It even caught the attention of a rival neighborhood.
“Baldwin needed more photographers so I reached out and they said ‘here is your press card, ready to go! “
Sam has been on the move ever since. He has shot nearly 500 games in his community.
“I will probably shoot two or three days a week,” Niebeling said. “I average about 1,000 frames per game, which is down to probably 60.”
He does all of this on purpose to avoid trouble and free his mind.
“With photography what I have been able to do is use my time effectively,” said Niebeling. “I can actually create an escape from a crazy world.”
Most importantly, he knows that the images of his community are worth a thousand words.
“I give back to people because there have been enough people in the community who have done more than enough for me.”
Many photos of Sam are shared in Facebook groups for the St. Croix Central and Baldwin-Woodville school districts. You can find a link to the St. Croix Central group here, and the Baldwin-Woodville group here.