Working as a NFL photographer was a dream come true. I can remember the phone call when the NFL called offering me the chance to be a photographer for them for the 2018 season. I still can’t believe I’m an NFL photographer, but I’m enjoying every moment of it.
When I was hired by the NFL, they hired me to be a photographer and content creator that helped out the visiting teams that came to play the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Visiting teams really didn’t travel with a lot of their people so they would be in need of help with getting more photos and videos for their website and social media accounts. Just walking out of that tunnel onto the field on game day was something special. Of course having NFL as an employer on your resume is amazing as well, but it couldn’t top the feeling of seeing your photos being used by NFL teams.
A Typical Game Day
I’ve been asked what a typical game day is like and to be honest nothing about shooting an NFL game is typical. Case in point I was there for the longest game in NFL history and lets not forget the Miracle in Miami. I guess what would be typical would be me arriving at Hard Rock Stadium between 8 and 8:30 in the morning. I would download the notes for the game from league as they would always want me to focus on certain players from both teams. Then I would head to the players parking lot and capture photos of the Dolphin players arriving before I head over to the visitor’s side to shoot the visiting team getting off the buses. Once I upload those files I would head out for warm ups and stretches. Grab some shots and upload those and then head back for warmups with their uniforms on. This made my life easy as I can figure out which player was who based on their number. After I get some photos from that I rush back in to upload them and run back out for the pregame introductions and the start of the game. Anytime there was a score or turnover I would run to the photo room and upload them to the team for their content purposes. I would different assignments post game. The NFL would text me in the 4th quarter and say we need video of player xyz walking off or get photos of jersey swaps. An hour or two after the game I’m still sitting in the photo room with other photographers uploading all of our images. I think that is what I enjoyed about being an NFL photographer, I never had a typical day. It was always something different and I welcomed the constant challenge and changes that came with game day.
Interacting With Others
One of my favorite things about being an NFL photographer was interacting with other photographers. Inside the photo room you would hear stories from other games or learn about some new app for faster uploads on WiFi. I sat in the same seat all season, well for the past few seasons now that I think about it. Next to me would be another photographer, Joel, who I’ve shot with since like 2011 when I was shooting the Miami Hurricane games. Every game day I walk into the room and he was sitting there editing photos and we would just start talking about the game or some new app. There was another guy, Tom and we would talk about baseball before the game and during the halftime. It wasn’t just the normal crew of photographers I would talk to. Team photographers such as David Silverman for the Patriots and Craig Melvin of the Bills would have conversations with me. When I introduced myself to David Silverman, he was like I know that name and he remembered he follows me on Instagram. Of course I just wanted to shake his hand to see that enormous SuperBowl championship ring on it and it was glorious. I need one of those.
Some would assume that when you’re photographing the players you can also just go up and talk to them and that is not the case. The teams are really strict with you interacting with their players. Unless you get the ok ahead of time, it’s pretty much no contact. The Miami Dolphin players knew me as they’ve seen me game after and game. Kiko Alonso and Cam Wake would say hi in the parking lot or smile at you during warmups, but usually once they’re on the field its all business. There were times when the league would send me a text and say we need a selfie video of this player or go ask this player how he felt after the win, but those times were few and far in between. A secret way to get the players to pose for you is after the game and they’re exchanging jerseys, bring Sharpie markers with you. Since the players need something to sign their jerseys with and you have Sharpie markers, well you just became their new best friend.
Seeing My Work
I think one of the proudest things, for me, being an NFL photographer was seeing my work all over team’s social media and websites. I’d upload a touchdown and 5 minutes later it’s all over Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Or just seeing your name under the photo as credit was like, “Damn, that is my photo on an NFL team’s website.” Players would follow my Instagram account and repost videos, stories and photos to their feed. Of course they would have thousands of more likes than me, but it felt good to see people liking my work. Sure the likes boost the ego, but it could never replace the sense of pride and achievement I get from seeing my work all over the internet.
Here are some of my favorite shots from this season as an NFL photographer.