People who can honestly say they are working their dream job are few and far between. But Joe Lemke is one of those people. The Twin Cities native is a life-long Vikings fan and a professional photographer; last year, he got the opportunity to combine the two into one pretty sweet gig.
At 27 years old, Lemke has been taking photos professionally for seven years, but he has been supporting the Vikings for as long as he can remember. Need proof? The first jersey he owned was none other than Warren Moon!
The photographer has extensive experience—regularly shooting editorial, portrait and wedding content as his own business and also working as one of two concert photographers at the Xcel Energy Center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium. However, he had never done much sports photography and always thought it would be an incredible job to work for the Vikings.
Lemke decided to go out on a limb, reaching out to full-time team photographer Andy Kenutis. As a fan, Lemke loved the action and intensity of the player shots Kenutis often posted on Vikings.com and via social media. As an artist, he admired the detail and impressive quality of Kenutis’ work.
Lemke contacted Kenutis, sending him a link to his own portfolio.
“Honestly, I was just hoping to meet for lunch and pick [Andy’s] brain about his football shots,” he admitted. “He wrote back to me, liked my work, and we got lunch. He’s a great dude.”
Ultimately, Kenutis offered the Vikings fan the opportunity to attend mini camp and work on taking some photos of practice. Lemke captured some unique shots over a few days at camp; before he knew it, Kenutis brought him on as a part-time member of the photography team.
“Getting to walk out onto the practice field at Winter Park for the first time was amazing. Standing on the field with many of the players that I watch every Sunday during the regular season was a pretty surreal experience.”