I’m a staff photographer at Sports, Illustrated magazine. I’Ve been a professional sports photographer for 27 years and I shot for the National Football League, creative services division for the first fourteen years of my career, I thought we talked today a little bit about football. Photography for those of you that are new to shooting football, for your high schools or for your local teams. I thought perhaps I could give you some ideas on what I like to do and things that helped me become a better football photographer one of the things that is really really important when it comes to shooting football is to prepare accordingly, I always kind of know Who’S in the game at any moment of the game, I know who’s gonna play that day, if they’re not gonna play that day, I think all those things are important. I think preparing equipment. I think preparing yourself for bad weather.
All those things play an element in making better pictures when it comes to shooting football. Obviously, the key to shooting football is to be able to anticipate action. If you don’t understand the game and you, the best thing that you can do is to understand what your team does, what players like to do in certain situations in certain places on the football field, I think that’s critical, the lenses and the things that you will Select to use to make those pictures will also come as a result of where they’re out on the field and as you learn your technique, you’ll be able to make better pictures accordingly.
What I like to do is position myself in places where I mean it’s gonna give me the most excellent chance to make the best pictures possible. If I can get into a place where I think the play is going to go or a place where I can make the most of the opportunity that I have to make a great action picture, then that’s what I’m gonna do one of the places That I like to do is get into the corner of the end zone somewhere between the goal line and the end line on the sidelines, because of so many plays go to that corner and I’ve made so many covers. So many big pictures from being in that position in college football games or National Football League games that the same things happen in high school games that happened in in those games as well.
You make the picture of a guy making a touchdown. Then you don’t want to forget that the action on the sidelines or the reaction of the players is so vitally important, especially with today’s digital cameras. Because what happens is is everyone tends to look at the camera to see what picture they’ve got, and I always advise against doing that at least until you know that the players are leaving the field and there, and it’s clearly over. If you don’t do that, you’re going to miss a great picture, so it’s always good to keep your eyes moving. Well, no matter what you do, all the time always look around, and that includes the stands: the sidelines, the coaches players, the opposing team reaction.
All those things count, the other thing to do is to make sure that you shoot the periphery of the game, not necessarily what’s also going on in the field, but your cheerleaders, potentially all the things that happen, the pageantry of the game, homecoming everything the whole. You know the homecoming court, all those things that go on it’s just like a college football game, there’s a lot of parades and high school football, and you want to record that as an event. And I would do that. Every single game that you go to photograph, whether it’s a you know an away game or a home game. If it’s a home game, there’s gonna be more pageantry involved with your home team. You know, you know, player Huddle’s when they take the field. All those things look for something different.
Every time you go out, and you’re gonna make a lot better picture. Another cool thing you can do is maybe go and get permission from your high school coach. Talk to him beforehand meet with them ask about going into the locker room before a game. You’Ll get things that you never thought you could get when players prepare for a game at that level, they go. Some of them go through rituals.
Some of them go through different things that make them more intense when they hit the football field, and you can get in there and make some of those pictures you will create some of the most exciting pictures you can possibly imagine it’s probably better to do that At a home game than necessarily a power game, but it’s something that you can do and the other thing you can ask permission for us to maybe go into their team huddle right before they take the field and you can get in there and make some really Interesting pictures with a wide-angle lens that will give you some of the most interesting pictures.
You can possibly make it a game. That’S that’s, no action. One of the things that’s really really important to do is to watch your backgrounds. It’S sometimes hard to do when you shoot and react to sports action, but you can do this primarily if you look through the frame all the way from the foreground to the background and make sure you don’t have funny things run out of people’s heads. You know, or cars parked in the background, or you know anything that might show up in a high school Stadium, particularly in a day game where everything is lit pretty evenly. The other thing to do – and this is something that is a very very common mistake – is when they go and do sideline portraits. You have, you know the team managers or maybe a chain-link fence or something in the background.
You got to be very, very careful not to have those things growing out of a head or growing out of the top of the head or distracting the background. So make really really careful that you watch your backgrounds all the way through the frame when you’re shooting any kind of feature picture that where you want to focus in on a player’s face now in terms of anticipating action. What I try to do is if I think that they’re gonna pass and then I want to get an exchange between a defensive back and a receiver.
I want to be downfield a little bit because I know the ball is gonna. Come to me and therefore I can kind of anticipate what lens to pick up in what situation, and if I know it’s gonna go to a certain player, then a lot of times. What I’ll do is I’ll actually pick up the player when he comes off the line of scrimmage and therefore I know exactly when I can fire the camera and make the best picture possible a lot of times when you shoot outdoor sports you’re going to encounter inclement Weather, it’s inevitable, it always happens. It’S happened to me throughout my whole career from blizzards to del Tuija’s, and when it rains, it’s not good for equipment, and it’s not good for you. So the first thing you need to do is to prepare for that.
In the event that that happens – and you need to protect yourself so make sure you bring good rain gear to make sure that you’re protected, because if you get distracted, it’s very hard to make pictures when you’re distracted. The other thing to do is to get some coverings for the cameras and, depending on what you use, I use professional covers for mine, because the equipment is very expensive, as you can imagine. But if you don’t have the big lenses that we have, and you don’t have that you sure you certainly should bring towels or plastic bags or something to cover the equipment to give you the maximum chance to make pictures and bad weather.
But something else to think about don’t forget that the bad weather can sometimes you make some of the greatest pictures. You look for the mud. Look for you know, feet, look for things, splashing, all those things they make great pictures when you go out, and you start shooting, and you find it you’re gonna make mistakes, don’t worry about it, because that’s the time that you’re going to learn, you go back, And you look at your pictures. The learning curve is when you make mistakes, and you go back the next time, you’re gonna do a better job, and you’ll find out what you made. You know what you did wrong and you’ll correct it.