Behind the Lens: Jacob Will


Jacob Will poses on the bleachers at Memorial Field with his camera on Hawaiian night. September 3rd, 2021.

Rachel Foster, Yearbook Clubs Editor

When you think of sports at State High, you may think of the insane hype videos of the football team or photos showcasing the spirit of the soccer game. Behind these is sophomore Jacob Will, who has been putting his all into capturing the energy of State College athletics. 

Will found his way to photography through internet influencers. In fifth grade, Will took large inspiration from YouTubers Casey Neistat and Peter McKinnon and wanted to be just like them. He was inspired not only by their vlogging but also by the way they talked about photography. His inspiration quickly morphed into a motivation to get involved with photography. 

“We had this old camcorder lying around the house that I made a few videos on but I wanted to be the real deal. I then bought my first camera. I tragically did not become famous,” joked Will. 

That first camera had a large impact on Will as he began to mess around with settings and just started taking photos of things he saw around him. In sixth grade, Will’s photography career began to take off when he took photos for the Mount Nittany vs. Park Forest football game. Head coach Matt Lintal let him onto the field to capture the game and then asked his dad later that summer if Will would like the opportunity to do media for the home varsity high school games in the fall, to which Will obviously said yes. 

Will has gone far beyond photography, challenging himself by constantly evolving in the world of media. At the beginning of 2020, he began to test the waters with videography and football work. However, Will felt as though he had strayed away from the reason he started photography, so he would go out and take landscape, nature, urban, and portrait-style photos to reconnect with and expand his original passion. 

“I feel like in photography, at least for me, certain skills and styles are almost just picked up over time. If I talk to another photographer or see someone else’s work, it most often inspires me to either change what I’m doing, or incorporate what they are doing into my work,” Will said. 

Will has many reasons why he loves doing what he does, but two stand out in particular. First, he looks at it from the football aspect and the family-like community within the team. 

“The community that Coach Lintal has built around and within his team is indescribable. When I step onto the field with those guys, even though I’m just the photographer, I feel like one of them and I know that they have my back no matter what,” explained Will.

The second reason comes from just being a photographer in general. 

“Taking pictures means something. Having pictures means something. So when I can take a picture of something or someone and have that moment forever. That’s my favorite aspect of photography,” Will said. “That’s also why I love taking pictures for athletics here because being able to capture moments that these athletes have worked so hard for, for them to have those forever. That’s why I do it.”

Will is not alone on the field though, as he has started to form a team of people interested in media to cover State High athletic events. Not only has he been able to showcase his passion, but he has given others the opportunity to get involved. Caleb Craig, another football photographer and State High alumni, expressed his gratitude for what Will has done. 

“Jacob’s certainly trying to bring a legitimacy not typically associated with school sports. It was our collective vision to start a media team at State High and this year he’s done just that. Obviously, there is now an extremely talented set of photographers, videographers, and graphic designers,” Craig explained. 

At the end of the day, Will fully embraces the passion he has for his work. There are many rewards for taking photos, but none match up as much to Will as the reward of people seeing his work. 

“When a player comes up to me after they have a big play, or a race or a game and asks if I got the shot, and I nod to them, the excitement that I see on their faces makes me just as excited as they are. High school sports can mean a lot to some people, so for me, being able to capture these moments for them is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do as well,” Will said. 

Will is bringing a new level of legitimacy to State High athletics media while simultaneously evolving and growing as a photographer. Over the next two years, it will be incredibly inspiring to watch as Will continues to emerge as a leader in the school.