2,946 pictures. 

Between home games and creative content for the Vegas Golden Knights and Henderson Silver Knights, that’s an average week for photographer Zak Krill. Krill serves as the main – and usually sole – photographer for all HSK home games, as well as part of the VGK photography team at The Fortress. 

So, how does he distill a hockey game into these snapshots? 

“One of the mottos I’ve always lived off of was from a coach when I was in college,” said Krill. “He told me: ‘you have to know the players better than the players do.’ You have to be able to expect and read that this guy’s getting in position over here, or that [the opposing] goalie is really bad on the left side, so we’re going to be firing a lot on that. This is our main guy who has a great shot – when he’s getting into position, you want to be ahead of the puck so you’re ready to go. You always have to be ahead of the play.”  

In sticking to that philosophy, Krill has captured some historic photos for both the Golden Knights and Silver Knights franchises over his years with the organization: Jake Leschyshyn celebrating the first goal in HSK history; a strobe-lit still of Paul Cotter scoring the inaugural goal at The Stronghold; an iconic shot of Mark Stone lifting the Stanley Cup over his head after the Golden Knights’ victory on June 13, 2023. 

But Krill’s personal favorites in his Knights portfolio extend well beyond those that go into the teams’ time capsule.  

“Some of my favorite moments aren’t actually the major ones that everyone expects,” he said. “A lot of them are old juniors teammates playing against each other for the first time. Or seeing guys that have grown up together, like the Alaska guys: [Isaiah] Saville, [Pheonix] Copley, and [Jeremy] Swayman. Whether it’s in the AHL or in the NHL, I always try and grab photos of them together. Even though they’re on different teams, their faces light up when they see each other during warmups. Little stuff that captures the friendship that comes with hockey. I always want video and photos of milestones, like a first goal or a playoff win. But I hear players talk about all these little great moments, too. That kind of photo is really special to me.” 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 11: Isaiah Saville #31 of the Vegas Golden Knights and Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins talk prior to a game at T-Mobile Arena on January 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Zak Krill/NHLI via Getty Images)

Game photos and other on-ice content make up the bulk of the nearly 3,000 shots that Krill takes in a week. But creating photographic content for two professional hockey teams also encompasses community events, cast and fan activations, and on-location shoots for specialty or Theme Knight jerseys. 

Those kinds of shoots present an entirely different kind of artistic challenge compared to game action – one that Krill relishes.  

“I love getting to be quick on my feet and having to adapt to these settings,” he added. “I’ve had to photograph people horseback riding in the middle of the desert, or posing in a gold mine, or at a space-themed Illuminarium shoot where the entire thing is made of light panels. With every shoot, there’s this challenge of ‘okay, how can I make this work? How can I make it great?’ For example, in the mine for the Nevada Day shoot, I worked with more directional lighting and very subtle detail shots. We had the soft light from the lantern, which created these really interesting shots.” 

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NELSON, NEVADA – OCTOBER 24: A Henderson Silver Knights employee poses in the team’s Nevada Day jersey at the El Dorado Canyon Mine on October 24, 2023 in Nelson, Nevada. (Photo by Zak Krill)

“And we always get really good stories from these shoots, because they’re part of what our brand is known for. In the mine, we ended up with six or seven other people on the initial tour. One of the couples on the tour was from California, and she was just fascinated to see the process. For her, it was the coolest day ever. She couldn’t wait to see [the jersey], and she ended up following us [on social] just to see the finished photos and video. With a game, you’ve got thousands of other people watching the same moment, which is incredible. But there’s also so much to celebrate in more private moments like these shoots. Like, when we did the Reverse Retro jersey shoot for VGK, there were only around ten of us that knew about it. So getting to be just a part of creating and unveiling that story was incredible, and to see the fan reaction was even better.”  

The process from shutter to social isn’t instantaneous. After each shoot, Krill culls any shots that don’t quite make the cut. He then meticulously edits the remainder of the photos by cropping, aligning, and color balancing each image. 

Some of these photos will be posted directly to the team’s social channels. But others will go on to be a part of the Knights’ branding in other ways. Many of the team graphics and posters are built up from Krill’s photos, ranging from specific poses taken on media day to action shots from throughout the season. 

“It ends up being really cool to see what [graphic designer] Austin [Zima] is able to do with the photos, and how he makes posters of them, victory graphics, goal graphics, etc.,” said Krill. “I’m very much shooting storytelling. I want to try and shoot in a way where it fits as a main photo, and also as a complement to it. It gives me a good challenge to try and expand what I’m capable of doing and see the imagery in a new way. And there’s days where I have a specific player that I’m following, or a specialty jersey, something like that, where I’m trying to tell more of a one-time story

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HENDERSON, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 15: Mason Morelli #11, Brendan Brisson #19, and Adam Cracknell #24 of the Henderson Silver Knights celebrate a goal at Lee’s Family Forum on November 15, 2023 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Zak Krill)

– but they’ll be used beyond that specific game. I want to make that count.” 

Officially, of course, a photographer has no favorites. But are there any Knights that he’s particularly enjoyed being able to capture on camera? 

“I love when you can clearly tell that someone is loving playing the game, so I love taking photos of [Mason] Geertsen and [Mason] Morelli. And with Geertsen, there’s one guy that they’ve known each other for years and years, so every time they’re on the ice they’re chirping each other. That’s made for some great photos. Brendan [Brisson] has great celebrations, too. Whether it’s in front of an NHL crowd or an AHL crowd, he’s always going absolutely crazy. When you’ve got that much love for the game, it makes everyone else’s job really easy. I’m not trying to shoot that one frame where he looks really happy, I’ve got a whole series of 30 or 40 photos where in every single one of them Brendan looks like he’s the happiest person alive.”

“I’ve gotten some comments on photos joking about ‘accidental Renaissance,’ which is a fun compliment. So much of the Renaissance is made up of paintings that were done because they were the most important parts of great moments. So in a hundredth of a second, you’re able to do what painters took weeks or even months to do. That’s part of what makes being a photographer so great. I do this because I enjoy it, and I want to be here every day. But I also do it because I love to capture it for our players, the coaches, for team history, for family, for fans. No matter how badly a shoot felt like it went, when people talk about an amazing photo the day always feels like it was so worth it.”


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