Lessons from the Shot: Life on the Sidelines of a College Football Game by Stanley Leary


by Stanley Leary

Figure 1Figure 2
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 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.
It isn't that I missed the moment, I was’t 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.
Figure 3Photo Assistant 
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 helps protect the knees and help the photographers stay on them longer due to the cushions.
Figure 4Standing vs Kneeling
The photo of the NC State player shows a shot from standing.  As you can see there is a slightly downward look towards the field.
 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.