My Football Photography Hall of Shame
Hi everybody. I’ve been very fortunate to have shot a lot of both College and Pro football this season, and I’ve been sharing some of my favorite shots from those games here on my blog.
Well, I didn’t shoot any Wildcard Playoff games this weekend, which gave me an opportunity to do something different: dig up some of my worst football shots, and foolishly I’ve chosen to share them here with you.
Now, when I’m out there shooting, and I fall for the fake handoff and shoot 22 frames of a running back carrying nothing, I will normally delete those right in the camera (just out of sheer embarrassment). If I miss deleting them on the field between plays, then when I import the images onto my laptop, I’ll usually delete the really bad ones then, but alas, I still had plenty left over. But today, I’m just going to share a few. That way, I have enough left for a part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5………part 62, part 63……
Here we go (hang on folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride):
Above: Focusing on the player that has the ball isn’t always a big priority of mine. I think the real story here is those guys in the rain ponchos back on the bench, and as you can see—-they are tack sharp! A lot of photographers out there get all distracted by the ball, and the play that’s going on, and stuff like that. Such a shame.
Above: A lot of guys try to make sure they’re in position to nail that end zone corner catch (like these guys here), but then they miss out on getting that really dramatic shot of the blue padding on the goal post, and the ref jogging over after the play, and I think that’s pretty short sided on their part.
Above: I think a lot of shooters out there are all hung up on the action, and miss out shots like this where you really get to use the “rule of thirds” composition technique. It’s not what you see in this shot—it’s what you don’t see.
Above: I know it looks a little soft here, but you should have seen how sharp it looked on the back of my camera. I was psyched!
Above: A lot of shooters on the sidelines are all hung up on the shot being, ya know…in focus, but hey—-you can still tell what’s going on, right? I mean, you can see he caught the ball and all. This would make a great 17×22″ print. Maybe larger.
Above: Touchdown! In an image like this—catching a pass in the end zone—-it’s really all about capturing the player’s emotion. That look on his face is priceless. Heck, you can almost see the ball in this one! Wait for it…..wait for it…..Epic!
Above: Picking the right spot to shoot from, where you won’t be obstructed by the chain gang, or a ref, or a video camera man, is really critical, so I’m always very careful to be in just the right position to capture “the shot.” Look at the expression on the Michigan player’s face. Classic. Could have been a poster. Could have sold millions.
Above: At the end of the day, it’s really about knowing how to frame your shot in the heat of the action. This is one of those shots where it just all came together for me. People ask me why I do it. This….is why I do it.
Above: My rule is: leave a lot of headroom up top, ya know….in case Sports Illustrated wants to use it for their cover shot.
Above: It’s not easy capturing an out-of-focus shot of a field goal kick. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one, but this is the kind of magic that sets me apart.
Above: There was something really thrilling happening there just a moment or two ago—I’m almost certain. Sidenote: look at how sharp the gloves are on the player on the far right side. When you get one like this, it reminds you of why you do it all in the first place.
Above: It’s all about getting tack-sharp images, and if you look closely, you can almost read the brand of drums they’re using. That’s tack-sharp my friends!
Above: I hate it when they run to the other end of the field. Everybody’s so tiny, so I don’t worry about actually composing my shots, which really takes the pressure off.
Above: Capturing that peak celebration shot after a big play, and the raw emotion of these headless players is really what it’s all about.
Above: The referees are such a big part of the game, I try to work them into at least 20 to 30% of my shots each game. It helps me to stand out.
Above: I don’t usually like to brag, but every once in a while you just nail one! Can you say “SI Double Truck!” I’m livin’ the dream, baby!
Above: So many guys out there are all about capturing the entire player, but I say, a chopped off limb here or there, especially a throwing arm, really isn’t a big deal. It’s about the moment—not the individual body parts.
Above: My instincts told me “Hey, this guy is going to catch a pass” and my cat-like reflexes took over. I turned, nailed the shot (BAM!), and headed to the photographer’s work room for a chili dog, knowing I had this one in the bag.”
Above: When you’re covering a big name Quarterback like Donovan McNabb, you have to put yourself in a position to capture the moment. I kept yelling at this player in front, “Hey, move to your right!” but he just stood there—blocking. I was so pissed.
Above: In the NFL, plays unfold so fast that you have to react in a split second. The play was over, so I whipped over to catch this majestic moment, frozen forever like a moment in time. Look how the ref is dragging his foot. Amazing!.
Above: They say that shots where you can’t see the ball, or that are partially obstructed by an official, or that don’t seem to have any focal point or story behind it are useless, but I think this powerful image proves them all wrong. While I’m on the subject; I know as photographers we’re out there to do a job, but when we’re side-by-side shooting, you know what we don’t talk enough about? Love. That’s right. Love. Between plays, we need to share our feelings, and talk about our relationships, and our struggles and dreams. And gosh darn it, if one of us really nails a great shot, we should all go over and hug him. Ya know…or not.
Capturing the moment. Or at least the one right after it.
Well, there you have it, part 1 of some really stunning shots that I cannot believe didn’t get deleted right out on the field. I wish I had 20 more to share. Unfortunately, I have hundreds. Maybe a thousand. Maybe more. I’ve got a playoff game lined up, so hopefully more of these magical shots will be heading your way soon (and if I actually get any decent ones, I post a few of them, too!).
Have a great Monday everybody (and stop all that snickering). ;-)
UPDATE: I added a few more “keepers” over at my Facebook page. Here’s the link. (to see all my Facebook posts, click the “Like” button).