Much more work goes into shooting football than other sports. Not only are the games longer, but I have to get to the stadium earlier to set up, and buck the crowds when I leave. Contrary to popular thinking, photos do not flow from the digital camera to the Internet - they have to be selected and processed. When over 800 shots are taken at a game, it takes more hours to process them than it does to shoot them.
But what fun. High school sports are the last bastion of true amateur athletics and I love watching the kids give it all they have. Though I am sure most have visions of future NFL glory in their heads, most know they won't even play in college, much less the pros. That doesn't keep them from playing as hard as their talent allows. I believe there are a lot of life lessons to be learned through sports and the good coaches try to do more than just win games.
(Yeah - go ahead. Click on each of the photos. You will see a larger version of the picture if you do.)The day after I shoot a game, I have many people ask me about some play or pass or strategy used. It also surprises people that I take pictures of the scoreboard after each point change. Its because I have no idea whats going on - my head is buried in a viewfinder. When the play is over and my camera is digesting the shots, I am either moving to a different place or thinking about what kind of shot I want next - - but I am not thinking about the game.
" . . . thinking about what kind of shot . . " you ask? Yes - if it is third down and 8 yards to go and I am shooting a team with a passing quarterback, I anticipate a throw, then check to see where the best receivers are and try to get this result.
I see the unusual too. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one other blue artificial turf field and that is at Boise State University, but there is a high school stadium with blue turf in south Texas - and the home team plays in blue just as Boise State does. Funny thing - when you are in the stadium you don't really notice the blue, but in photos, it looks just plain weird. One good thing about artificial turf (at least for a photographer) is that the stuff reflects the stadium light upwards making for better exposures. Only one of my local teams plays on an artificial turf field.
One of the things that makes shooting football different from other sports are the ancillary activities that go with it. The band doesn't play at softball or soccer games. Sometimes there might be cheerleaders at an important basketball game, but its not the norm. Ah - but there are both varsity and JV cheerleaders at football games. They do some spectacular stunts. I'm not sure that the best athletes aren't on the sidelines rather than on the field. They are also very difficult to photograph because cheerleaders are on the sidelines and are not lit directly by stadium lights. I can use flash for some shots, but not for the truly fast moving feats they do.
Every game has at least one spectacular play. The "regulars" - the other photographers I see at many of the games - all like to ask "Did you get it?" Of course, I usually miss it, but occasionally I get the interception or tackle-breaking run or the open field tackle. I am always intrigued by how the editor chooses the shots to run in the paper because his tastes seem to be quite different from mine. Of the 800 (or so) shots I take at a game, about 80-100 are posted to my web site, I turn in 10 to the newspaper, and one shot gets run in the sports section.
As the season end draws closer, it becomes time to photograph the thrill of victory. (I don't have the heart to photograph the agony of defeat) One of the local schools (the one where Tom Landry played his high school ball) won its first district championship since 1993. The place went nuts - crowds on the field, coaches high-fiving and big linemen jumping in the air like ballerinas. But it was fun dodging the delirious fans.
I'm sad the season is over - - but I won't miss staying up until 2-3 in the morning either.