Shooting Notre Dame From the Sidelines

On Saturday, I hopped an early morning flight up to South Bend, Indiana to shoot the Notre Dame vs. Tulsa game, along with my buddy Jim Workman (a lifelong Notre Dame fan), and his son Kevin.

So, first—how did I wind up shooting “The Fighting Irish?” At this past Photoshop World, one of the two inductees to the Photoshop Hall of Fame was NAPP’s Help Desk Director Peter Bauer. He brought his wife Mary Ellen O’Connell along to see him receive the award, and during the opening night party, Pete mentioned that Mary Ellen was going to be honored with the game ball at halftime, and that they were watching the game from the University President’s suite.

That was all I needed. I’m like “Pete….buddy….do you think you can use some of that juice to get me a sideline pass to shoot a Notre Dame game?” and Pete said he’d see what he could do. Well, after a few well placed calls, and Pete “working the system” he wrote me back to let me know he had arranged a pass for me to shoot the Notre Dame vs. Tulsa game (of course, this was all made possible in no small part by the fact that Pete’s wife, Mary Ellen is a Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at Notre Dame, and quite famous in the world of law, and plus, she’s just really cool). Anyway, he worked it out, and I was on my way.

It was an absolutely perfect day in South Bend, with temperatures in the low 60s, under a bright blue sky. Pete offered his season tickets so my buddy Jim could come along (Jim hadn’t seen a first Notre Dame game in person since his dad took him to one back in 1971), and Jim was incredibly psyched!!! Pete had great seats—right behind the goal—10 rows back. Sweet!

(Above: That’s me during the game with my new 400mm f/2.8. Photo by one of my blog readers, Troy Breidenbach, who was also shooting the game on the sidelines that day).

One thing that struck me was how friendly everybody was there. Every one you met working at the stadium was just as kind and helpful as they could be. They all said “Welcome to Notre Dame. We’re happy you’re here.” This was a stark contrast from spending the first of the week in New York, where most of the people I met said, “Welcome to New York. Now give me your wallet” (Totally kidding).

(Above: Tulsa’s coach apparently didn’t agree with one of the ref’s calls during the third quarter and sent his clipboard flying. I love how everybody’s looking at the clipboard).

Camera Settings
Nothing new here. Shot the same two lenses and used the same settings I always do (see my Bucs vs Rams post [link] for all these details. I did use my D300s as my 2nd body this time, because Brad had a concert shoot Saturday night I didn’t want to send him there with a noisy camera, so I left him with the D700, since I really didn’t have any noise issue with a day game, and the D300s worked great (We did put the extra AA batteries in the battery grip to get more frames per second).

(Above: Let the end zone celebration begin! It looked like Notre Dame had this one in the bag—they were trailing by 2 points with less than 30 seconds left to play, but they’re on Tulsa’s 22 yard line, and all they had to do was kick the field goal, but then…..)

(Above: …they went for six points instead, and Tulsa intercepted a Notre Dame pass in the end zone, and it was all over). :(

(Above: I made the commemorative print you see above for my buddy Jim, so he could remember this day. Hopefully, it won’t be almost 40 years before he catches another ND game. I used a 10mm fisheye lens on my D300s, then I used Lightroom’s built-in Lens Correction Profile to straighten the image out. Took all of 10 seconds).

(Above: This shot of me was taken with my iPhone by Eric Szajko, a NAPP member who was also shooting the game. He and his wife Michelle had been to 10 Photoshop Worlds, but we had never met. He came up and introduced himself to me before kickoff, and we hit it off right away, and I pretty much wound up shooting the entire day with him, and we had a lot of laughs).

Well, that’s all from the shoot. I do want to thank Pete Bauer and Mary Ellen O’Connell for arranging all this for me (and for the incredible dinner they hosted at their beautiful home after the game), and a special thanks to Notre Dame’s John Heisler for being so gracious as to let me shoot the game. It really was a wonderful day (the only thing that could have made it better was an Irish win), but I really had a lot of fun with Pete, Mary Ellen, Jim, Kevin, Eric, Troy, and the wonderful people of South Bend.

UPDATE: I added 10 more of my favorite shots from the game over at my Facebook Fan Page. Here’s the link.

  1. Scott,
    You really nailed this game !
    I take it your loving the 400mm, it’s an
    Amazing lens
    I really love the 10mm shot and the one of number
    12 and 25
    Great Job

    How many people would attend a game like that ?

    I’ve shot Irish soccer games with 100 people watching

    1. Hi Russell:
      I am absolutely loving that 400mm. It is “the” football lens for me! :)

      As for how many people attending, it was just over 80,000. It’s deceiving because the stadium doesn’t look that big, but I asked one of the official team photographers and he confirmed it. Also, if you look at the official site, it show the seating capacity at 80,795. The energy at a game like that is amazing! :)


  2. Hey Scott

    Some awesome shots here, love the impact of the first shot you have up. But the shot that’s just made my morning would have to be Tulsa’s coach sending his clipboard flying, definitely love the fact that everybody’s looking at the clipboard. Rather amusing!

    Thanks Scott.


  3. Hi Scott – You add a touch of class to everything you do. Very impressive. When I click on the image to make it bigger it doesn’t appear. May be on my end but don’t have this problem on other blogs. Just started yesterday. FYI

    Love you blog. Thanks for posting.


    1. Hi Dave:
      Yeah, I must be doing something wrong on my end. I emailed my head Web guy and he’s going to fix it, and then let me know what I’m doing wrong. Sorry ’bout that.


  4. It was great to finally meet you in person. I can’t believe you left out “The Story” of your credential…but I guess that is best left to another time :-)

    For everyone of his readers that has not met Scott…he is a jerk (totally kidding). He is the exact same guy you expect him to be. Gracious, funny, and very serious about his shooting.

    Thanks for your time Scott and your advice. I got some great shots fro my portfolio!

    1. Hi Troy:
      Great meeting you, and thanks SO much for that photo of me. I don’t like many (read as: “any”) shot of me, but that one—that one I like. :-)

      Thanks again for the photo, and I can’t wait to see your photos from the game! :)



  5. Damn that 400 2,8 is a dream. I guess your really satisfied with it. I myself got an older version of the 300 2,8 (without VR) and it is lovely @2,8. But I am a motorsportsshooter, mostly, and I would love to have that 400 lens.
    I have to rent it sometime next season, just to try it out myself. Too bad it is such a costly lens, but sometimes you really get what you pay for. :)

  6. Love the photos! So glad you could join us at Notre Dame. It sure is a great place! Being able to work with them is like having another family. It’s great! Let us know next time you’re up and we’ll see if there’s anything special we can get you into!

  7. Scott,

    What sort of size do you print those commemorative gallery prints out at?

    I really like the look of those.

    Looks like you had a great day.


    1. Hi Scott: It’s 17″x22″. I’m doing an in-house test print today and if it looks good, then I’ll send it MPIX for output, matting, and framing. He’ll have it delivered by tomorrow if I can get it to MPIX by 11:00 am this morning. :)


  8. Do you ever sleep? How often do you have to pinch yourself and ask if this is just a dream?

    Can we switch places for just one day? Great stuff as usual! Rock on!

  9. Hi Scott,

    Great stuff as always. Were you able to roam freely down the sideline/endzone all game or did you have to stick to a certain portion on the field? Where did you find you were shooting from the most?


  10. Hi Scott
    Love your blog. Always have a great story that makes it very personal. Awesome shots of this game and the last 2 NFL games. Long time football fan even here in the great white North where we have our own flavour. We even export some of our better products down to the US like Warren Moon.

    I do need to get out to see Photoshop World though

    Great hat by the way!

  11. What a game! I was there for the weekend with my gf who is a lifetime ND fan but had never been to a game. I had the chance to shoot around campus and it was just beautiful. Coming from FL, however, I could have used a little more layers as it was a bit cold out there. The game was a bit disappointing, but the experience was a ton of fun! Glad to see you got some great images (especially the last play of the game … not a great play call).

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. It may be interesting to explain to the folks who Jim Workman is, and why they should care. Jim was the guy you started this whole Photoshop gig with a decade or so ago. I remember going to your first few small one-day workshops at Tampa Convention Center, where you and your wives handled registration in the lobby, and you and Jim published a funky Mac magazine to your cult members. When you explained in the workshop all that “filter stuff” in Photoshop, I left the day thinking I’d just been enlightened beyond my wildest dreams. (By the way, that info on the filters has worked out pretty good.)

    Who would have thought that years later, you’d end up with an international organization that has changed the face of the digital photography industry around this planet of ours? Ain’t it grand when sometimes the good guys DO win???

  13. What?! No picture of Touchdown Jesus? Awesome shots though! One day we will make it INSIDE the stadium for a game. We walked the campus over the summer on a trip to visit my dad who camps in Goshen. Notre Dame, especially the basilica, is a gorgeous place to shoot!

  14. Scott, the clipboard shot is priceless! I like the shot of #25 and #12 as well. Too bad the game ended on a questionable coaching decision, but it sounds like you had a blast. Was there some sort of on-field presentation to Mary Ellen of the game ball? Just wondering if you got shots of that for her. Oh, and that lens is a beast! You should call it the “Hubble”!

    Hope you are feeling better today from the dental work yesterday!


  15. The three of us, Scott, Kevin and myself really did have a great time this weekend and the Notre Dame stadium personel were off the charts in terms of hospitality. Lon Lancaster!!! I have not talked to you in forever but I remember you well. Thanks very much for the little history lesson, I really appreciate the kind words.

  16. Glad you were warmly welcomed at Notre Dame. It was a tough weekend for the students and staff and not only because of the game. My daughter tried to find you but to no avail. It’s hard to find anyone around there.
    Thanks for being there! Kitty :)

  17. Scott,
    It was a true honor to have you by my side the whole game! I wanted to let you know I have some photo’s of you I took, but was unsure of how to get them to you. When you are up this way again, we can see what else there is to do in South Bend besides a football game…. there is always basketball and hockey to shoot! :D Thanks again, I had a blast!

  18. The shots at Notre Dame are wonderful. I’m partial to the Irish since my grandfather taught there. But just one thing I didn’t see? What about the fire hydrents in South Bend, it’s the only place I’ve ever been that paints them like people. I love your books and look forward to more of them. They helped alot with some of my shots. Hopefully next year I will have that new lens as well, the shot look amazing and perfect.

  19. About 12 years ago, i joined NAPP at one of those Photoshop in a day seminars at the LA Convention Center. NAPP was pretty new and the seminar was well very well attended. I won the only door prize of my life which was a free day at an upcoming seminar. After the show was over, I introduced myself and thanked Scott K. and his business partner, Jim Workman. They were stoked at the attendance and beaming at the enthusiasm. After the seminar, I told my wife that these guys Kelby and Workman were onto something big: they had Faith in God, humor, great product, love of what they did, integrity, creativity and gave their customers value. Glad to see that after all the success, the business partners are still great friends. Cool.

      1. I was jazzed to win the seminar in September but could not use the pass because it was on the Opening Day / Picture Day for one of the soccer teams I coached. I sent the ticket back and hoped it could be passed onto another lucky soul who could use it. Notwithstanding my time conflict, I really appreciated the “win.” Over the years you guys have given your customers great service and value—and your generosity to individuals and organizations are a model. Even though I use Aperture, I bought Scott’s Lightroom Book because he was giving the sale proceeds for a couple days to the Orphanage in Kenya. Good stuff.

      2. Funny about the soccer team that you coached. That is one of the things that I have been doing the past five years. Coaching my son’s soccer team here in Oldsmar. Plus working as a band booster for Kevin’s high school band, the “Golden Cougar Band of Pride”

  20. Dear Scott,

    I love your site, and some of your recent sports work looks simply amazing. But that sports work, and one of the recent blog posts from a guest blogger here has me and some friends wondering about some pretty important issues for photographers (pro and semi-pro alike).

    You have talked (or had others talk) about issues like photographers rights, copyright, and some other legal snags that photographers are faced with. But, what about the rights of others in regards to photographers?

    I understand newspaper usage but I have two questions about recent stuff on your blog.

    When you go to the sports events, what are you allowed to do with the images afterward and why? Can you make posters of a football player out of one of your photos and sell them? Books? Calendars? Prints? What about all of these wedding photographers? Can they use there images here to promote and sell themselves as well as the products sold by your company or do they need commercial model releases?

    Secondly, your last guest blogger posted a video that he made using music from the Dave Mathews Band. The video is here helping to attract readers, sell his wedding services, and keep people on this site where there are products, and memberships being sold. So is that music licensed? Does it need to be? It’s hosted on Vimeo which has rules about not allowing commercial videos, and that is a video that by his own post is meant to sell some backdrops and his wedding services. So is it allowed on Vimeo? Are you as the owner of this blog (or me as the owner of my blog) responsible for people posting things on my blog that are not allowed? Should we all be screening what we allow on our sites if we sell things?

    Any comments would greatly help clear up something that really confuses me and so many other semi-pro photographers.

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