The Man Behind the Camera: Jacobsen Enjoys Time with Jayhawks

Sept. 4, 2011

As more than 41,000 fans begin their day of Crimson and Blue pride in Memorial Stadium, they may not be aware of the other competition occurring on the Jayhawk turf. As the crowd waves the wheat for yet another Kansas score, 60 year-old, Jeff Jacobsen is running down the sideline to capture the moment with the best possible photograph.

“I want to win as a photographer, I want to work harder and be better than the next person. It’s hard to find anyone more competitive than me,” said Jacobsen.

With over 40 years of experience covering college athletics, Jacobsen has worked within the University of Kansas Athletic Department since 1997 and has been a full time employee since 2000. Jacobsen got his start as a photojournalist for the Topeka Capital Journal in 1969 covering college sports. His role as staff photographer at Kansas was uncommon in the 1990’s.

When Jacobsen started with Kansas, only seven universities had a photographer working full time. And it is hard to find a photographer that takes as much pride as Jacobsen does in his work. While the majority of Jayhawk fans intensely follow the football and basketball team, Jacobsen is eager to cover all athletic events extensively with the same passion.

“Athletes from the other sports got less coverage before I started doing this,” said Jacobsen. “That’s the legacy I would like to leave.”

This Saturday starts very early for Jacobsen, with the assistance of his wife Laura, it begins at 8 a.m. to photograph the cross country team. Then, in the afternoon, he must keep up with the frenzied pace of a volleyball match. Finally he has time to prep for the evening’s football game and the Jacobsens will not be done until nearly three hours after the lights go out at Memorial Stadium. Despite the long hours, the couple relishes their time together.

“He says that this is like the oxygen he breathes and it truly is,” said Laura, who also works in the athletic department as an academic and career counselor.

With 15 years of experience at Kansas capturing Jayhawks behind the lens, Jacobsen has as much fun as he did when he was 18 years old and working for the first time in Memorial Stadium. Next time you might just notice the crowd of photographers all trying to get the best shot and Jacobsen, toting his 35-pound telephoto lens, leading the pack down the sideline.

“I still love being out here doing this and I’ve been at it for almost 43 years. I couldn’t have been more blessed in my life,” said Jacobsen.