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.
Not long after I posted some of my favorite images from Super Bowl week on this blog, I received an email from Paul Gessler from Fox 45. He was interested in doing a segment with me about my story as one of the team photographers for the Ravens and our journey to the Super Bowl.
I was pretty shocked that there was even that much interest in what I do and at first I was a little hesitant to sit down on the opposite side of the camera and spill my guts.
However, I agreed and Paul and his cameraman Jed came to my studio to do a sit down interview. We talked for quite a while and I went through some of my favorite images from the post season including the Super Bowl and provided the stories behind how I made them.
The segment aired last night and I thought they did a great job. Im always still amazed at how much content gets edited out to make a 2 minute video segment. It is definitely a little weird to see myself talking on TV, but at least I didn’t embarrass myself…I think.
The end is pretty hilarious, its the clip of the “Harbaugh handshake” from the Super Bowl. You can see me getting mugged by all the photographers around me. I am still amazed that I made even one usable frame during that moment.
Anyway, I also wanted to mention that in addition to myself, the Ravens do have another team photographer who has actually been around a lot longer than me. Phil Hoffmann has been the Ravens team photographer since 1996 and has shown me the ropes since I’ve been with the team. Phil is a big reason that I am able to take risks and be more creative on gamedays since I know he is going to be there to get the shot that I may miss.
Secondly, in the beginning of this video you’ll see a still photo of me shooting in my (fashionable) green vest. That photo was taken by super talented local photographer Patrick Smith, definitely check out his work too. Its inspiring.
Lastly thanks to Paul and Jed for being super cool and making this happen…enjoy!