First off, that’s a great photo, Frank – and certainly one of the better football shots you’ve captured over the years.
While my health has taken me out of the game for some time now, I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot a conservatively-estimated 700 football games over the years ranging from junior high through the professional ranks. I’ve never been knocked down or injured in any form or fashion, though I did have action right atop my shoestrings a few times. I’d actually say basketball represents more of a threat of being hit or injured as confined spaces in some of the smaller gyms make photography somewhat of a nightmare.
In football, if you understand the game and are cognizant of the flow, the down and the penchant of either team to execute a certain play, you can anticipate with relative certainty when and where the action will transpire and keep yourself out of harm’s way. That’s also how you are able to record the most captivating photos.
Perhaps I interpret the approach differently than some do as I entered the arena many years ago as a sports editor who preferred to cover games while shooting them at the same time. Particularly with the deadlines of a daily, that can be challenging but certainly not impossible. In fact, my stint at a north Texas daily, where I not only covered the events as sports editor but photographed them as well, is something I regard as some of the most memorable and enjoyable times of my entire career.
But in the late 80s, when the Advocate contacted me out of the blue and wanted me to work solely as a photographer, I accepted. It was then that I began to take notice of how others approach the game; after all, I now had free time on my hands as I was only responsible shooting the event.
The common denominator I noticed among the ranks – from novice through seasoned professionals – is that many of the press members tend to move en masse and all wind up with similar shots. I never cared for that – particularly not the chit-chat which often transpired – as I preferred to devote my full attention to the matters at hand. And, rarely shooting with anything shorter than a 300mm lens, I was able to separate myself from the crowded hotspots and still pull in the action I was there to capture.
And that’s how Frank captured this moment in time: by thinking ahead, anticipating the action and getting away from the traditional bottlenecks of media members hugging the first down markers.
Well done, Frank…
Great writing and shot Frank. RE: The iPhone - the Advocate has both a photographer, such as Frank, shooting the game with DSLR and telephoto glass, and another photographer/videographer shooting short video clips of game highlights that are quickly uploaded. The iPhone excels at quick file transmission and is useful for this purpose. That being said - I'd suspect it is only a matter of time until digital camera makers realize that we'd like the same file transferring functions on our cameras (or better lenses on an iPhone?).
Robert, only the VA would show that. But then a student photographer distracted guy like me wouldn't catch it
why is the vicad guy shooting with his cell phone ?
It almost happened again last night. I was shooting the West Freshman and JV games and one of the journalism students from West was on the sideline as well. We were just about side by side and she was pretty wrapped up in the shot. However, I looked up and could tell from where the runner was going and the angle the defender was taking, they were heading right at us. I started moving backward, but she was so focused on her viewfinder, she didn't realize what was about to happen. I started to reach and grab her by her belt, but at the last second, she jumped backwards. I Think it scared her a bit. It must of been at the point when they completely filled her viewfinder that she realized she was about to become part of the game. Luckily, no one was injured. But, I guess, that is the only way the kids learn. Being on the sidelines. I was just glad to see her taking an interest in Sub-Varsity sports. Great article, Frank. Just don't put away your camera. Writers are easy to come by, but truly great photographers are hard to find. The advocate and Victoria lucky to have you.