Warrior Spotlight

Warrior Spotlight: Tyler Leipprandt

Capturing extreme photos and dangling out of Coast Guard helicopters are part of daily life for Tyler Leipprandt, a 2008 graduate of Rochester Christian University.

Leipprandt is the founder of Michigan Sky Media, a full-service media company specializing in drone videography and photography. Leipprandt has taken photos of iconic Michigan landscapes and views from the top of the Mackinaw Bridge.

Leipprandt has a “bucket list” of dream photographs to capture. “I want to seek out bucket list photos to give people a new perspective,” Leipprandt said.

This October, Leipprandt grabbed one of his bucket list photos by capturing a jaw-dropping panorama shot of the Big House during the Michigan/Michigan State game from a helicopter 3,200 feet above the field. It shows a Coast Guard helicopter flying directly over the block M on field.

The picture itself is flawless, but getting the actual shot was a challenge. “I have dreamed of getting this shot, and seconds before I did, I thought I blew the opportunity,” he said. As Leipprandt was getting ready to take the shot, the helicopter landing skids covered the view of the field. Acting quickly, Leipprandt moved his camera angle between the helicopter and the landing skids, held the shutter down and captured the photo, which has attracted the views of thousands of fans. Over 1 million people have seen Leipprandt’s photo on Facebook and Instagram.

Leipprandt studied education at RCU and worked in that field for a number of years, but he had an idea to purchase a drone to take real estate pictures. “Drones had just come out and I really wanted one. My wife told me that if you can figure out a way to make money with this, go ahead and get it.”

Before purchasing the drone, Leipprandt already was talking with real estate agents about taking photos from the sky of the houses and properties they were selling. Then, he envisioned taking drone pictures and videos of famous Michigan landscapes.

Leiprandt built up Michigan Sky Media while still working in education, and then he quit his teaching job to work full-time as a photographer in Traverse City, Michigan.

In addition to Michigan Sky Media, Leipprandt also works on Trekin Outdoors, a hunting TV show on the Sportsman Channel where he and his best friend travel the country showing the “real and raw realities of hunting and being outdoorsmen.” Leipprandt mostly films and edits, while also sometimes hunting.

Before he was capturing once in a lifetime shots and trekking across the country, Leipprandt grew up in Ubly, Michigan, located in the northern part of the thumb. Leipprandt’s father was a basketball coach who was active with the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, where he met Garth Pleasant, professor of sport management and former RCU men’s basketball coach.

When Leipprandt was in high school, he played basketball and was recruited by RCU to play at the collegiate level. Jon Horst, general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks who graduated in 2006, grew up in the thumb of Michigan and saw a few of Leipprandt’s basketball games and encouraged him to consider playing at RCU.

On his recruiting tour at RCU, Leipprandt and his father were shown the old gym on campus, which is now the Warrior Center. “My dad told me that day that if Garth Pleasant can do something special with a gym like this, then this is the right place for you to be.” In 2004, Leipprandt’s freshman year, the men’s basketball team won the USCAA national championship.

Leipprandt has fond memories of his time at Rochester Christian University. “It was a great experience. I grew up in a Christian home and I liked that aspect of the community on campus.”

Leipprandt met his wife, Rachel, (Stuewer, 2010) after seeing her on campus with his brother, Joel, who also played basketball at RCU and is now the Lead Pastor of Kensington Church’s Traverse City campus.

“I saw Rachel a few times on campus, and one day I was with my brother and told him ‘See that girl right there, I am going to marry her one day.” And now we’ve been together for 14 years and have three children and a mini-Aussie doodle.”

Leipprandt is donating a print of his Big House fly-by-photo to the RCU Alumni Association to use in a silent auction at RCU’s next Partnership Dinner on April 22, 2023. You can visit www.michiganskymedia.com to view and/or purchase any of Leipprandt’s photos. To hear the full story of the Big House fly-by-photo, click here.