Former NFL player finds passion for photography


Deep down, Ty Schmitt knew he wanted to be a photographer. It just took hypnosis for him to realize it.

The Seattle Seahawks drafted Schmitt as a long snapper in 2008, but a severe back injury during his first NFL preseason ended his career. He then fell into a deep depression. Desperate to find a path in life, he turned to a hypnotherapist in Arizona.

The session included hours of escalating relaxation techniques. At the end, the hypnotherapist asked him what he would do if money were no object. It was then he discovered an unrealized passion for landscape photography.

The thing was, Schmitt had neither training nor experience.

“I got a chance to look deep down inside, and for some reason, landscape photography jumped out,” he said. “And so I said, ‘I have to do this. I don’t care if everyone thinks I’m crazy — this is a calling.’”

Schmitt’s only camera at that point was an iPhone, so he bought a DSLR camera from his aunt. To figure out how to use it, he watched a ton of YouTube videos. And he shadowed experienced photographers. But more than anything else, Schmitt just snapped a lot of pictures to hone his style.

“A lot of it is getting out there and seeing what intrigues you.”

In only a few years, despite being self-taught, he built a career as a photographer. He chalks up this quick ascent to “an obsession for photography that’s with me day and night.”

Many of his pictures capture how light plays on landscapes. “I think it’s the coolest thing to experience nature like that.”

Bliss 101 in Encinitas is hosting “Chasing Light,” Schmitt’s first gallery showing, from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. A San Diego State University graduate, Schmitt lives in La Jolla.

Schmitt found his calling, yet does he miss playing football?

“To be honest, I’m so much happier doing what I’m doing now, because it’s actually something that comes from within. Rather, the NFL was something I pursued because others wanted me to pursue it.”

Visit to view his work.