In the Locker Room with Maggie Balderstone, Basketball Captain, Student Photographer


Photo courtesy of Thomas Hill

Maggie Balderstone at a game against Penn State Behrend.

Third-year Sociology and History major Maggie Balderstone is captain of the women’s basketball team. When they’re not on the court, they’re working as a student photographer for Oberlin Athletics. Their photos can be seen on, as well as their Instagram account: @mmbphotography15.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When did you start playing basketball, and what made you decide to play in college?

I think the first organized basketball I did was when I was five. I was in kindergarten, and my church had a girls’ league, so it was with my neighbors. We would play at the church, which had a basketball court. That was the first time I got a pair of high-tops and played.

For me, playing in college was always the goal in high school. I originally wanted to play as a tool to get an education or to go somewhere that I may not have academically been able to get into on my own. But I think for me it was always just like, “I don’t want these four years in high school to be it. I want to keep playing just because I love it.”

How did you get started with photography, and how did you start taking photos for Oberlin Athletics?

I bought my first camera at 16. My twin sister was a gymnast for 10 years, and I started photographing her at her meets because they were really long and I wanted something to do. From there, I did family portraits and stuff over the summer, and in my junior year of high school, I helped out the school newspaper. I would go to sports events for them, edit photos, and post on my Instagram. That became really fun because in my senior year, there was a group of us who did photography and videography — we’d all show up to games and take photos together. When I got to Oberlin in the fall of 2020, I was sad that we didn’t have actual meets or competitions because I really wanted to help out and take photos. I was planning on doing it for free, but after my media day photos, I talked to Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Amanda Phillips. She said, “We need photographers. Do you have your own camera?” And I was like, “Oh, yeah, I’m all set up.” I really enjoy it, and I like being able to have an artistic lens that I don’t necessarily get through playing basketball or being in school.

People enjoy the photos, too. I like giving people something that they’re happy to look at. I’ve had people come up to me and be like, “Oh my God, the pictures are so good. I feel like you made me look so good.” It makes me happy to catch people in a moment of intensity and joy.

What is your favorite genre of photography?

My favorite — my girlfriend often talks to me about this — is a series of self-portraits that I did. I was also planning on making a video when I got top surgery over the summer to document the process or my own feelings toward it, but I focused on recovery and didn’t do that.

I really love doing stuff that’s more artistic, more indie, but sometimes people don’t want to do that. I don’t necessarily have as much time, but I do love, love, love shooting basketball. I’ve also done a couple weddings — I love that because it feels so special to be a part of somebody’s special day, capturing a moment that’s only gonna happen once, so that’s another one of my favorite things. I had a really fun time going through and editing the photos and just putting stuff together for them that they would enjoy.

How do you see photography as a form of art?

Personally, I love capturing other people’s moments of joy. That feels really special. One of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken is of one of my really close friends — I shot her brother’s wedding this summer, and the photo is of her and him in the kitchen before the wedding eating pierogies over the sink. It wasn’t posed, they were just eating the pierogies because they were hungry, but they’re in full dress, makeup on, all ready to go. I know she’s gonna like it forever, and it’s so reminiscent of their relationship. On the sports side of it, I know the amount of work people put in and the intensity it takes to be in those moments, so it’s really cool to catch teammates being excited on the sidelines. Most people are pointing the camera on the court, but when you pan over to all the people who work with you every single day and they’re excited for you, that’s also beautiful. I think that’s art in and of itself. It’s cool to get the action shot, but it’s also cool to catch moments of the coaches in their intense moments and players reacting to that.