At every Falcons game, you can easily spot the photographers stacked on the sidelines, capturing each play, hit, touchdown, tackle, and dog pile. They’re the ones wearing the brown NFL vests and holding thousands of dollars worth of equipment, hoping to be in the best position possible when the Big Play happens. After all, the action is what game day is all about … without that, there would be no fans, no Georgia Dome. But there’s also a ton of action surrounding the game … the fans, the excitement, the pyrotechnics, the dancing. And while photographing the action is extremely fun and rewarding, I absolutely love shooting all the peripheral elements. To me, it’s what brings color to the game.
So before the 2014 NFL season, I approached the Atlanta Falcons about doing just that. They agreed, and hired me to cover four games. I’ve shot many football games, but my main objective has always been to cover the action. Sure, most clients want photos of fans tailgating, etc. as well, but there’s only so much time for that when there’s a game to cover. Typically, that means I have to get all the peripheral shots in well before the game. Once the game starts, everything switches to focusing on action.
But here was my chance to spend four ENTIRE games shooting the fun stuff. For each of these games, I tried to cover as many angles as possible. One point of emphasis was the players’ pregame entrance. In case you’ve never seen it, it’s pretty dramatic. The players run under a large metal arch flanked by smoke machines and pyrotechnic boxes that spew flames 20-feet high. It’s perfect for photographs. To make the photos from the entrance even more dramatic, I used a strobe triggered by a remote camera during a couple games.
I also photographed the fans inside and outside the Dome. I really wanted to capture what it’s like to be at a Falcons’ tailgate, to feel the energy as fans dance in a parking lot or to taste foods from one of the many grill masters. I used assistants carrying a light on a monopod for many of these fans shots to give the photos an extra kick (I want to give a big thanks to Kala Minko and Harry Haynes, who helped schlepp equipment around and made many of these photographs possible).
So these photos are what I came away with from those four games.