BATON ROUGE, La. -- John Battle had a plan in December when he and his LSU teammates made their swag run to Best Buy during bowl week.
While most of the Tigers used their $305 shopping spree at the electronics store -- a gift each player received for participating in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl -- on items you would expect teenage and 20-something college student-athletes to purchase, Battle went a different route entirely.
“Everybody else walked out with PS4s and Xbox and all that, and I walked out with a camera,” Battle said. “Everybody looked at me like, ‘Why you got a camera?’ [I said], ‘Ah, you guys’ll see.’”
Photography has become one of Battle’s hobbies for now, but the senior safety would like to someday follow the path of a fellow LSU defensive back and South Floridian once his playing days end. Travis Daniels, a starting cornerback on LSU’s 2003 BCS championship team, is now a professional photographer after spending eight seasons in the NFL.
“He takes pictures for like weddings and things like that, so I’m trying to be like him,” said Battle, a native of Hallandale, Florida, just north of Miami. “That’s where I really got my idea from. He helped me out with that.”
Battle is a long way from professional-photographer status, however, admitting he is still learning how to use the Canon Rebel he purchased on the bowl trip.
“I still don’t know what I’m doing,” Battle chuckled. “I’m just hitting buttons, and they’re just coming out pretty good.”
Even if he is just a novice, Battle has enjoyed tinkering with the technology available to modern photographers that can turn a simple picture into something that looks more artistic.
Take, for instance, his black-and-white shots of former roommate Jamal Adams before Adams threw out the first pitch at LSU’s March 18 baseball game against Georgia. Or the modeling-style pics he posted on Instagram featuring former LSU safety Rickey Jefferson.
In addition to the photos he posts on his personal Twitter account, Battle also has started an Instagram page specifically dedicated to his new hobby. The wide range of shots there includes animals he spotted on trips to the zoo, photos of downtown Miami and action pics from LSU sporting events, which Battle said he has enjoyed watching as more than a spectator.
“The way I look at the game is different now, so it’s not just like a guy just sitting back in the stands looking,” Battle said. “It’s like all the things that these guys go through that you wouldn’t even think of. So like behind the scenes with baseball and gymnastics, I was like, ‘Man, I didn’t even know gymnastics did all this stuff.’ So it was pretty cool to see that firsthand.”
He even shot during LSU’s football pro day earlier this month. Battle said he hasn't been paid for his photography before -- he would have to clear that with LSU's compliance staff -- but told his former teammates at pro day he expects payment for his services next time.
Where will photography take him? Battle isn’t sure yet. He only has been shooting for about five months, after all, and hobbies sometimes come and go.
“I’m just enjoying it. I’m just out there freelancing right now,” Battle said. “Hopefully, it can turn into something. I would like for it to, but right now, it’s just a hobby.”