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.
Well, its my 2nd favorite time of year…Football is back…training camp is in full swing and another NFL season is right around the corner.
Training Camp is something I really enjoy shooting, but its not without its challenges. With so much repetition of the same thing, its easy to become tempted to shoot the same things everyday. My goal however is to find unique moments at each practice and come away with a set of images that don’t look exactly the same. So far so good.
What’s my actual favorite time of year? That time right after becoming Super Bowl Champions…
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!
If I sat here and tried to write about all the amazing, emotional, crazy, funny, scary and intense moments I experienced during Super Bowl week I’d never get around to actually posting any pictures and I’d bore you all to death because I am a terrible writer. So, I’ll spare you all the details…
What I will say is that it has been such an honor to follow this team this season through all the highs and lows and everything in between.
I had the opportunity to photograph my first Super Bowl and the team that I work for won…that feels as good as it sounds.
Throughout the week, not everything went as planned and that certainly carried over to the game. As a photographer you are 10% picture taker and 90% problem solver. At the end of the day you do the best you can with the situation you are in and with any luck you make a few nice frames and if you are even luckier you actually enjoy yourself while you are doing it.
Looking back on this experience, I feel pretty darn lucky. I am still trying to convince myself that its impossible to capture every moment or every play. That doesn’t mean that I won’t try every single time.
There is really no other way to sum up the week leading up to the Super Bowl, the game itself and the parade that followed other than to just show you the pictures. Enjoy…