For the 4th year in a row I was fortunate enough to be selected to shoot along side some of the world’s best photographers at the Super Bowl as part of the NFL photo team. Let me take a quick moment to thank NFL lead photographer and photo editor Ben Liebenberg for once again inviting to be a part of the crew. My shooting position was on the field in one of the Eagles’ end zone corners. If you saw the game you know that there was a lot of touchdowns scored. As luck would have it, not a single one actual occurred in my corner! That’s just how it goes sometimes. Despite not being super close, I finally had a nice angle on the last touchdown of the game…a spectacular dive (and bobble…and catch) into the end zone by Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz which proved to be the pivotal score of the game.
After the game my assignment was to photograph the closest quarterback to my position. That just so happened to be Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles. I was able to find him relatively quickly and stick with him until he made his way up on the winner’s podium. This year’s post-game scrum was noticeably less chaotic than in previous years and I’m not exactly sure why. When I first got to Nick Foles, shockingly there was hardly anyone around him at all. The crowd of NFL personnel and photographers slowly grew but the PR staff quickly isolated Nick away from the majority of the other players on the field. In fact, much to my surprise Tom Brady never made his way over to shake his hand.
Some of my favorite images are the moments Nick shared with his wife and daughter after the game. I know that my wife and two young children are my biggest motivator in life and it’s nice to see that emotion shared with big time professional athletes.
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.
In the last 8 years I have photographed a lot of NFL football games…all of which were shot as a team photographer for the Baltimore Ravens. A few days ago I photographed my first NFL game that did not involve the Ravens…It just so happened to be the Super Bowl. A few weeks ago I was contacted by the NFL asking if I wanted to be a part of their photo team if the Ravens didn’t make the Super Bowl. Of course I said yes. (Insert a giant thank you to Ben and the rest of the photo crew for having me along)
I was excited to be able to approach a game purely as a photojournalist, not caring who won or lost, just there to capture what happened. Although this was my first time shooting the Super Bowl for the NFL, it was not my first Super Bowl. I was with the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl two years ago. Naturally things were a little different. As a team photographer I am allowed on the field during pre game warmups, in the locker room and inside the bench area. That was not the case in Arizona (which I expected). During a game for the Ravens I roam the entire sideline working opposite the team’s other photographer Phil Hoffmann. For the NFL I was stationed in the same corner of the field for the entire game.
My assignment? Shoot whatever happens in front of my lens. After the game, I had a more specific task. Originally I was supposed to shoot the winning coach. Just before the game things got switched around so that each photographer would just shoot the coach/QB on their sideline. I just happened to be on the Seahawks sideline. Although not as fun as shooting the winner, I made a few frames of Pete Carroll shaking hands with Bill Belichick then somberly walking off the field. After that I tried my best to work my way back into the media scrums which were already jam-packed.
All in all it was a great experience for me. Although I’d love it if the Ravens went to the Super Bowl every year, if they don’t, hopefully I’ll still make my way on to the field.
For the second week in a row the Baltimore Ravens defeated a team led by a future hall of fame quarterback…and this time they didn’t need a field goal in double overtime to pull it off.
Although the first half of the AFC Championship got off to a slow start at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the Ravens absolutely dominated Tom Brady and the Patriots in the second half of the game.
But hey…you already know the details and you already know that the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl…pretty sweet!
However that also means one very important thing… I AM GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL
Let me have my little kid moment.
It really hasn’t sunk in yet. To have the opportunity to photograph on the biggest stage in football, amongst THE BEST photographers in the world is a crazy and somewhat daunting thought.
Luckily I have two weeks to let that thought marinate and focus on shooting the biggest game of my career.