I love Arena Football, it’s fast-paced action and smaller field let the fans get closer to the action and intensity.
An image like this one of the player in the huddle can make the viewer feel as if he or she is right down there on the field next to those players.
Click the more link below to see additional images from the Arena Football League Milwaukee Mustangs against the Arizona Rattlers.
Make no mistake, from the sports photography aspect it can be a real challenge. As with any football the players are wearing helmets that make it difficult to see their eyes and some players use those protective shields, either the clear or the tinted ones that can make images with the player’s eyes difficult or impossible to get.
Some nights I get my best shots during the player introductions.
When the players are introduced there are spotlights, and shadows and the light tends to do more interesting things, but just like the game you can not predict what is going to happen. You just never know when the player is going to stand right in front of that light so that it creates that great image with his shadow or gives you that rim-light effect. You have to look for photographic opportunities and capture the best images you can with the understanding that it is a very unpredictable situation.
Sometimes the player moves just right and every bit of that spotlight comes flooding into your lens, the auto-focus system doesn’t know what to do and wanders all over the place, the image is out of focus and over exposed and useless. Or, just by chance, luck and a little bit of photographic skill you get a nice image that will help bring the excitement of the nights events to the viewer.
If that doesn’t work you can always try taking pictures of the cheerleaders, right? I mean who doesn’t love a nice pretty girl picture.
Once the game starts, the photography challenges start to add up, the low-light conditions in the arena, the absolute unpredictable nature of a football game and just hoping you are at the right end of the field to get the kind of shots that will tell the story of the game.
If someone asked me before the game “can you get a nice shot of the helmet on the field” I would have to answer with “I’ll do my best” but the truth is I can’t predict if a player is going to put his helmet down facing the perfect way, or set it up in such a way to get a perfect side shot of a team helmet with logo. All I can do is look for those kind of shots and get them when I see them.
I’ve had photo editors tell me to try to get good game-action shots of every player on a team, and to me that seems almost impossible. Now if a photo editor says we will pay you to watch and photograph one player on the offense and one player on the defense for the entire game, well that I can do.
Just because I am tasked with getting good shots of the quarterback doesn’t always mean I can get good clean shots of the quarterback every game. It’s not like I can run out onto the field and wave my arms and yell stop, or cut and say “sorry guys, can we go back and do that one again, the defensive player had his arm right in my shot.”
Sometimes it all works out and I get several good shots of a player, with good face and eyes during the game and always in the back of my mind I have to remember to take a picture of that player’s number so I can identify the player in the image after the game. Another one of the challenges of covering sporting events is if I can’t identify the player I can’t use the shot. Sometimes I will get a great shot, but for some reason I can’t see that player’s number and game action starts up again and by the end of the game I never figure who that player was, so I have to toss the shot out.
At least with a cheerleader shot I don’t have to know the woman’s name, I just have to caption the image as one of the Sidewinders Dancers.
Sometimes a good play will take place at the other end of the field I won’t get the right angle on the shot or the background will be distracting, so what from the “perfect” angle would be a fantastic image tends to look a bit snap-shot-ish.
A sporting event is unpredictable, you don’t know what is going to happen and therefore you never know if you are going to be in the right place and taking the perfect picture at the right time.
With baseball, you always know where the batter is going to hit from, and where the pitcher will throw from, but football is different every game. The one thing you can count on is that the cheerleaders will be in the same place every time.
Momma always said: “Sports Photography is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get.”