Creator Stories: Featuring @TapekageProd, Joshua Koester

Apr 12, 2023
Joshua Koester’s passion for sports and photography led him to his dream job as a Live Content Correspondent for the NFL. Growing up in Buffalo, he played football and baseball with his brothers, but it wasn’t until college that he discovered his love for photography.

I grew up in Buffalo, New York in Riverside as the youngest of 3 boys. Our parents had us playing every sport possible all year but football and baseball became our main sports for us. It wasn’t until I was in college that I made the connection that I could use a camera to stay connected to the sports world for a living. Originally, I was aiming to be a high school physics teacher, and three years in, I realized I didn’t love the field enough to stay in the books 24/7 so I changed direction. At the time, I already had a minor in photography, so I was thinking about something camera-related, and Media Production jumped out at me because it included audio and video production. I felt it would help me be more well-rounded in the media field.

From there, I got a job with a local Division 1 football program, the University at Buffalo, as a videographer. There wasn’t much cinematography at all in the job, as we shot what was “22 film”, or film where the entire field of play is in the frame for coaches and players to study after games. I was happy to be around sports, but I wanted to create content that was meaningful, and that wasn’t it, so I reached out to the University of Buffalo’s athletics department about working with them, and they gave me a few hours each week to edit pieces for them when they were overwhelmed during the season. At the time, I was also attending small college basketball games and making highlight tapes, and filming random events my friends were hosting like parties, baby showers, or whatever I could get for the experience. I was also creating NFL highlight tapes with whatever footage I could scratch off the internet, and making highlight tapes for the UB Players with footage that the Media Department filmed.

Since I couldn’t get consistent work filming colleges, I decided to start filming local high school games in my area starting the year that COVID hit. In my first year, I filmed about 60 games in total between football and basketball (all on my own time), and I created a buzz for myself in the area. Not many videographers in the Buffalo area were creating at that level for the kids, so it got a lot of shares and I became sort of a staple in the local high school athletics scene. In just my second year of filming, I hosted a Best of Buffalo Showcase along with Pro Training Basketball where we had boys and girls upper-class, and under-class games showcasing some of the best basketball players in the area, it turned out to be a huge success.

After a year or two of being a backup editor with the University of Buffalo, I told my supervisor Matt Walfrand that I felt I wasn’t maximizing my opportunities and I wanted to film more. They didn’t have a budget for an extra videographer, so I told him to just get me a pass, and I would film for free. I ended up filming the entire UB football, and basketball season (the COVID year) and my social accounts were gaining a bit of traction. People were finally able to see what I could do with my camera and what I could edit with my own footage at that level.

An assistant coach from UB saw my work, and Wes Scheier sent me a message asking me to join UB’s alumni team in the TBT (Blue Collar U), where I drove to Ohio State to film them. I was the only cameraman on the team so everything footage-wise was on me, and it was up to me to be creative. I did so well that GM Bryan Hodgson (who is currently at Arkansas State Basketball) brought me out to Alabama for a game and had me make a recruiting video for the University. By this time, my reel was getting pretty strong, and I had a good amount of experience filming sports at pretty high levels.

The summer of ’22 was when the doors would really kick open for me. I was looking at big events that summer that I could film and I found The Battle, a group that hosted showcases for top high school basketball players. I emailed them about getting a media credential for their New York City event and Jackie Nunes replied asking if I’d like to film internally for them. I flew myself out there and filmed a weekend that consisted of covering 22 games creating great work for them. I was also able to make my own edits from the weekend, and a post I made of Bronny James somehow reached him, so he commented on it and reposted it. The post blew up and was my first to reach 1 million views and helped solidify my relationship with The Battle. They called me back a few months later for the “Blue Chips Reunion”, where the same showcase would happen, but in Akron, Ohio at LeBron’s old High School, St. Vincent St. Mary’s. I made some more content for them that weekend and ended up making a post of LeBron and Bronny doing a handshake that hit 17 million views, which blew my personal Instagram up. My portfolio had just gotten that much stronger.

Soon after that, I noticed that the NFL’s Live Content Correspondent program was hiring in Buffalo where I lived, which had been a dream job of mine since the beginning. A friend of mine, Mike Hunter, was already an LCC for two years so I applied and asked him if he could refer me. A few weeks after applying I received a call for an interview. By this time I had created so much live content with The Battle and Blue Collar U I knew I was prepared for the job. A few days passed and I was a part of the LCC team. Every home game you can catch me on the sidelines working my dream job for the NFL.

A few weeks after the LCC Job came through, I got a DM on Instagram from Juan M. saying someone referred me for a live content position with the NHL. You can also find me at a handful of Sabres home games creating for the NHL. It feels great to know there are people watching my work and suggesting my name for jobs like this. It’s been amazing, and I can’t wait to see where it ends up going.

My advice for creators trying to get into the industry would be a few things.

First, relationship building is as important as creating in this industry. All of the professional league jobs I’ve landed started with me being recommended by peers. The video work I do has its value because I’m fulfilling a client’s request, but it’s that person you worked with, or met a year ago that may have the link to an opening with the NCAA, where they can think “Oh yeah, Josh would be perfect for this!” That could be the difference between me getting the opportunity or not.

The second would be to reach out to companies. I’m in Buffalo where outside of the Bills and Sabres, there really aren’t any major sporting events. When it comes to EYBL, Summer Pro-ams, and big events, I’m not getting called up to go film, and they aren’t coming to Buffalo. I’m sending emails to request media credentials, or even to inquire about possibly working with them. They may say no, but that’s okay. Even with businesses in your local area, your chances of working with them are much better when they know you exist, so send an email!

The third would be to have a reel ready at all times. Most people hiring for content positions want to see the quality of your work or its reach and Gondola can help with that. If you’ve filmed some big events, you need to have one single video of your absolute best shots, or even a Gondola Profile to show the potential of your abilities/reach. They may not spend too long on your application if they can’t see what you’ve actually done.

Lastly, would be to invest in your business. As a freelancer, I always have up and down months, but whenever I can spend money on gear, I try to because I know it can help me bring the vision to life more effectively, which leads to more business. Also, invest your time wisely too. Creating content can burn you out so fast. Try to find time to relax and give your body and mind a bit of a reset.

Fun Facts about Joshua:

  • I get a lot of musical inspiration from Frank Ocean when selecting tracks for content
  • My first time ever Filming hockey was for the NHL.
  • I’m a huge Anime Fan. My favorites are Naruto, Attack on Titan, and HunterXHunter

I’m also hosting a podcast called Tape Talks where I sit and talk with some WNY Athletic Legends. Feel free to check it out:

Follow Joshua on social:

Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | TikTok | GondolaWebsite