College Football—Getting Something Different



Most photographers covering a college football game for a publication get a press pass that gives them sideline access to the game. The press pass lets them get those photos that the fans cannot see from their seats. So the idea is simple if you want your photos to be better, get closer.

What I like the most about getting tight photos like this of the defense taking down the running back is you can see their expressions. I think this helps tell the story. Also, capturing the emotion of the players helps engage the audience.

The downside to these photos is that every photographer given access to cover the game gets the same images. Look on the sidelines of any college or pro football game and start counting all the photographers and video cameras. It will surprise you how many are there to capture the match.

Turn around 

If you are on the sideline, turn around and look for moments from the fans. They can tell you as much about the excitement as the players.

From the Stands

Don’t shoot an entire game from the same perspective. Mix it up. I like to go up high and shoot down on the field for a different perspective.

Before the Game

Arrive early and capture some of the pre-game activities. Here I capture three generations, all showing their pride in being a part of the game.

Mix It Up

The tradition at Georgia Tech is the Ramblin’ Wreck comes on the field every pre-game home football game. I don’t need the same shot every week to look the same, so I moved around looking for a different view of this tradition.


There are traditions like the Ramblin’ Wreck and at The Citadel, the Summerall Guards half-time performance that is just as important to cover as the game itself.

While capturing the Summerall Guards makes for good photos, you still need to make the most of the day.

Arrive Early

You can get photos outside the stadium and capture the day’s pageantry when you arrive early.

The Corp all marches over to the stadium and attends the game together. Capture this early, and you have something different.

Fans hang out to see the teams arrive, and you can show the excitement here.

Many college bands play mini-concerts before the game for the fans. To find these events and show how this is truly a community event involving more than just the football players on the field.

Show how families are involved by capturing face painting of kids.

Look for Different—Not Better

Don’t get caught up in capturing a better photo always. Sometimes the most effective picture works because it is different. People are not used to seeing that perspective or moment.

Here is an example of a different photo. Not all that interesting, but the access to behind-the-scenes will make someone stop and maybe read that caption.

Sometimes using a unique lens will help you get something “different,” as I did here with a fisheye lens of the fan trying to catch a winning ticket in a booth.

Now, if I shot most all the shots that day with the 16mm fisheye lens, the photo here wouldn’t be different.

For more tips on covering the story, read some of these blog posts:

Oct 02, 2008
Variety – Make plenty of photos from different angles. In addition to zooming, get closer and farther away from the subject. Make wide-angle and close-up photos. Try some without flash and some with direct flash.
May 01, 2011
A high angle is usually successful today because it is unique to our everyday lives. Seldom are we tall enough to see this angle, so it looks different than you just walking around. Even the lady in this mural is looking from
Nov 08, 2011
For the photographer, I recommend trying shooting all day with an extremely wide angle lens like a 20mm or even more comprehensive. If this is your standard lens of choice, try something different, like a macro or extreme telephoto. It is forcing 
Apr 27, 2012
Delivered on time; Invoiced in a timely matter. “Second Mile Service” possibilities. Early delivery of images; Well packaged presentation of the pictures; WOW factor photos. Different angle than they have seen before; Maybe a 
Jan 04, 2009
A telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens help us tell the same story differently. The choice of lens is like a writer choosing which words to use. It depends on what needs to be said. A telephoto lens not only