Thanks Mark A. Carruthers for inviting me to be part of your “One Frame” blog!
I’ve been fortunate in my career as a photographer to witness a lot of interesting subjects, visit a lot of interesting locales, and most importantly meet a lot of engaging people and fellow photographers. Truly, I feel blessed by all the fortunate things that have happened for me in my photography career.
To give you an idea of how fortunate I’ve been in photography; I met my wife at the Calgary Olympics! Not many people can say that... and keep saying it for 27 years last month.
Sports photography has always been one of my staple subjects and I’ve spent a lot of time over the years at events chasing many large men and women around various courts, fields, and assorted playing venues. I do have to say though that football has always been my favorite sport to cover.
The upcoming football season will be my thirty eighth year of covering the NFL. I can remember covering my first games with no idea as to what was going on and what was going to happen. Thirty-eight years later, I still have no idea what is going on or where it is going to happen.
Really, football photography is pretty crazy. Even after covering hundreds of games (it could be thousands, my math skills aren’t that great), I still struggle with positioning myself in a manner that will allow me to capture the best photos. Chaos reigns on a football sideline. It seems to me like photographers are actually hatching on the sidelines as the game goes on. Every game seems to have more photographers and every single one is younger than me! Throw in officials, cheerleaders, and the various hangers on and the sideline pretty much resembles the subway at 5:00. Securing a position is challenging enough and being in the right position borders on divine intervention.
The challenges are great, but the rewards when it all comes together are greater.
Over the years, I’ve developed a number of positions that make certain pictures in certain situations.
When this photo of Derrick Mason of the Baltimore Ravens happened it was a magical moment. All the photographers were checking the back of their camera and checking it again. It was that unusual and that good. The image was shot with a 50mm f1.8 lens. I’ve always kept a camera with a short lens around my neck pre-focused at a certain distance for something that happens close by. All the planets were aligned and after Mason made the catch, he was upended and landed on his head. The light was pretty flat allowing for detail in his face. It was one of those freak plays where everything worked out.
I don’t go to this position much anymore, as I’m not doing editorial coverage very often at games. I let the guys who really need story telling moments take the risk of being flattened by a player. I’ll work another angle most of the time now like the end zone or up around the bench to shoot the reaction. It’s not that I’m a coward; it’s just that I’m a coward. I’m afraid I don’t have that many hits left in my body. One good slam and I’m probably donating my brain to that CTE study.
If there is a message in any of this pontification, I guess you could say that being prepared has its privileges. Nothing worse than being the photographer fumbling for a lens or camera while a great action photo is happening. Staying focused and being prepared goes a long way toward successful coverage of any event, be it sports or anything else. Of course a little luck never hurts…
Equipment: Canon Mark III with a 50mm f 1.8 lens
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