Life on the sidelines of a college football game

Nikon D4, 300mm, ƒ/3.5, ISO 8000, 1/2000

This is a taste of what it is like to be on the sidelines of a football game.

As you can see in the photo above all the photographers are there getting the shot right in front of them. Hopefully you are noticing my shot of the action is not so good. I am all the way on the other side of the field shooting with a 300mm ƒ/2.8 lens.

As you can see it isn’t that I missed the moment, I was not in the best position for the play.  This is why most major outlets like Sports Illustrated, Associated Press and some major newspapers will have more than one photographer at a game.  They can position on opposite sides of the field to improve the odds of having the play covered.

Here you can see the same play and moment, but this was captured by another photographer who was in a better position than me.  This is why having more than one photographer covering an event is important. (photo by: Greg Thompson)

Photo Assistants

Daniel Shirey has a photo assistant working with him during the game.

The photo assistant during the football game is an extra set of eyes and ears for the photographer. They also help carry the gear and give it to the photographer as they need it.

They will also know the shot list of the photographer and help them point out when certain things are just about to come up or are now happening. They watch also for players just about to run over the photographer to help them get out of the way.

I have noticed that most of the time the videographers are standing while a good number of the photographers are on their knees. If you look closely you will see knee pads on many of the photographers.  This help protect the knees and help the photographers stay on them longer due to the cushions.

Standing vs Kneeling

Nikon D4, 500mm, ISO 12,800, ƒ/6.3, 1/2000

This photo of the NC State player shows a shot from standing.  As you can see there is a slightly downward look towards the field.

Nikon D4, 150mm, ISO 8000, ƒ/5, 1/2000

If you look closely you will notice the camera is below eye level of the players.  I am shooting more up and towards the players.  The advantage here is you make the players bigger and more heroic than when you shoot from standing up.

Pay attention to your backgrounds and try to keep them clean. Shoot low to the ground as often as you can and keep that shutter speed really fast. I am using 1/2000 for the shutter speed to not only stop the action, but it improves the sharpness of the players.