All in the Details
There are definitely things to be nit-picky about when it comes to this week's game. While going through my photos, I thought I would choose images with specific attributes I can point out that otherwise might go unnoticed.
Starting off with arrival photos, I used my prism filter to try and make repetitive images look more compelling. It is hard to hold the filter in front of the lens with my left hand and photograph with my right, but a couple of them turned out well. I especially like the Cardinals logo kaleidoscope created in the Will Hernandez image.
I have wondered if any readers out there have noticed that J.J. Watt and I have our own pregame ritual. Every time the players line up to start dynamic stretches, I post up right in front of him and wait for him to strike his classic pose. He probably doesn't think anything of it, but it's fun for me to look forward to capturing something like that every game.
With two cameras on me at all times, accidental photos happen pretty frequently. The vertical shutter button hits my hip or leg and just rapid fires until I pick it up again. Here's what happens when I don't notice until after the game and see over 62 frames of nothing:
Warning: this next part gets kind of gross.
In the pregame team huddle, it is very tight quarters. I'm zoomed all the way out to 24mm, and even that isn't enough to capture the whole view. Pushed up against a squad of very sweaty football players, sometimes I get cool shots of the middle man:
And sometimes, I get spit on.
Obviously it's accidental, and it even makes for a really cool added element to the photos. File it under "occupational hazard" I guess!
The first photo below is my view of Budda Baker mid-speech. The second is a rare behind-the-scenes look at the joys of being an NFL team photographer, courtesy of one of the Cardinals' gameday photogs Peter Vander Stoep:
I actually didn't notice the spit on my lens until after I shot a couple of other pregame activities, but it finally showed up in the defensive linemen huddle and I had to wipe it off with my photo vest.
I could sort of edit it out of the first photo, but the second one is very ... wet. Live and learn!
There were a couple players this week to focus on, James Conner being one of them. This game was Crucial Catch-themed, and James, a cancer survivor, embodies true strength. I love this photo of him flexing his "Conner Strong" tattoo with the Crucial Catch captain patch:
I got to take a couple different angles for pregame this week as well. After the players left the field, I was allowed to follow them into the locker room to get a couple shots. I like what I was able to get, and I'm excited to explore it more in the next few games. I really like going for the detail shots like the one below of D.J. Humphries taping his fingers.
For introductions, I placed myself at the end of the player high-five line, which is something I've seen other photographers do in the past (thanks Pete for the idea). It involved a lot of quick shooting and moving out of the way as they ran towards me, but I liked the alternate angle it offered.
Now to get into what I promised: photos with unnoticed details.
Starting with this pregame shot of Antonio Hamilton, who was very emotional before his first game back after severely burning his feet in a freak accident. The tears in his eyes and spit flying really show you how much the opportunity to play football again really means to him.
These two photos might look like typical J.J. Watt images, but in the foreground you can see what he's chasing: Jalen Hurts.
These next shots are about hidden background elements.
The first is after the Cardinals' fake punt play, and while you see Darrel Williams pointing with the ball, the 4th down line marker gives you context to why he's celebrating.
While this photo of Marquise Brown doesn't have too much of a hidden background element, Rondale Moore screaming his head off does add a lot to the image's impact.
Eno Benjamin's touchdown was full of background context.
The first is Zach Ertz celebrating before Eno even gets to the end zone.
Next, all of the fans raising their arms in the stands as Eno celebrates by himself.
And finally, the giant "TOUCHDOWN" behind Eno as he's lifted in the air by Justin Pugh.
Sometimes background features are found after the photo is taken, but other times I like to zoom really far in on intimate details.
These photos of the back of Zach Allen's jersey show the wear-and-tear football uniforms go through during a game.
My job as a team photographer is to document the game, good or bad. Even though these photos might not appeal to Cardinals fans, they still show what happened during the game through an artistic eye.
At the end of the day, football is just a game. That sentiment is really shown during postgame greetings between players. Zach Ertz reunited with his former Eagles teammates and took the time to kneel in prayer with them, closing out Week 5 hand-in-hand.