I was extremely thankful again this year to be asked back by the NFL to photograph Super Bowl LI as a part of their photo team. The amount of talent and experience in the group is nothing short of phenomenal and it was extremely flattering to be asked to be a part of the team again.
Compared to shooting regular season games, Super Bowls are their own animal that are generally approached a little differently. Normally when I cover games I’m shooting with at most one other person and occasionally by myself and I’m totally comfortable with that. I follow the game up and down the field and try and put myself in the best position to capture impactful moments. Working with a larger group of eight other photographers at the Super Bowl, my task is different…stay in one spot (this time, a corner of the Falcons end zone) and make sure I have that area covered. Working with a team of other photographers is always something I enjoy. Everyone has each other’s backs and you know if something is out of your range, someone else has got you covered.
Sometimes you are lucky…yes, lucky enough to be in a spot where action comes your way. From experience, that doesn’t always happen. I was fortunate to be in a position to capture some pivotal plays of the game and when added to the amazing shots captured by the rest of the crew, we ended up with a body of work that we all can be proud of.
My post-game assignment was to follow the winning quarterback. Immediately I knew I was going to be in for a challenge as the post game scrums after the Super Bowl rival some of the actual rugby scrums I was in in college. Luckily the last play of the game, the winning touchdown scored by James White, happened right in front of me. I was able to make any image of the score then sprint over to Tom Brady and try my best to stick with him amongst the chaos and hopefully make some nice images. I’m always critical of my performance, so I’ll let my editors determine how successful I was, but I’m always up for a challenge and I think I made a few frames that captured the emotion of the moment.
As a photographer covering the NFL its your job to tell the story of the game? Well, yeah…but…
As a photojournalist your assignment is to capture the action and emotions of the game in an unbiased way. You photograph both teams, just trying to make great images and tell the story. It doesn’t really matter who comes out on top.
Well, as a team photographer, my assignment is a bit more challenging. Only 50% of that action and emotion has any use to my client…The Ravens
Although, I am shooting the game…I am really shooting the Ravens. My photos are published by the Ravens and exclusively seen by Ravens fans. So regardless of how good or bad the Ravens play, its my job to make images that are useable by the team and that interest those people who follow the team.
This was one of those games where that assignment was extremely challenging. Although the Ravens did have their moments the Steelers essentially controlled most of the game before ultimately winning with a field goal in the final seconds.
At the end of the day, I can’t control the outcome of the game. All I can do is let the action unfold and try to capture the images that benefit the team. Sometimes there are more..sometimes less.
Its challenging…and thats why its fun. Here is my take on the game…
The Ravens had their first home preseason game on a somewhat rainy night last friday against the Detroit Lions.
I typically don’t like to shoot in the rain. Despite having equipment that can tolerate getting wet, it complicates everything I do while shooting and generally makes it harder or impossible to do some of the things I normally do on gamedays.
However, the rain was escorted in by a vibrant blue sky which made a perfect backdrop for some nice pre game images. It also seemed oddly appropriate that the sky was nearly identical to the color of the Lions uniforms who ended up winning the game.
I was really excited to shoot this game because it was the first chance I had to test out some new gear I loaned from Canon…the 1DX body and the 400 2.8 “II” lens. I don’t want to turn this blog post into a equipment review, so I’ll keep it short…WOW.
The 1DX has by far the best autofocus performance out of any camera I have ever used. I’m very critical of image focus, and I’ve never had so many sharp images to choose from. It rarely missed.
The high ISO performance was impressive as well. The only thing that I have to get used to is the full frame sensor. During much of the game I felt like I wasn’t close enough to the action, but thats something that I will adjust to over time, so I’m not worried.
Anyway, I have the camera and lens for another week and a half, but I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to buy them already.
Anything that allows me to capture better images is a worthwhile investment.
U2 performed at M&T Bank Stadium on June 22nd to a near sellout crowd. One of the many benefits of working with the Ravens is that I also get to cover big events that happen at their stadium even if they aren’t related to the team directly. Although I am not a fan of U2 myself, the stage production they put on for the show was a spectacle to say the least.
The only bummer was that all of the photographers got stuck on this little platform on the corner of the stage and we couldn’t move around at all. Even though it wasn’t an ideal spot and my 70-200 didn’t really get me as close as I wanted, I tried to make the best of things and stay creative. I did get some special access after the first three songs were over. I was able to shoot some images from the upper level of the stadium and a few of those turned out really nice. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy…