Had lots of fun last week-end shooting photos of UM football players at the University’s Football Youth Day open house! How I prepared:
– I checked into permission to take photos, since it took place inside the stadium. I sent an email to their media relations person, asking for permission using the text Shutterstock likes to see:
To whom it may concern,
I grant (photographer name) credentials to photograph (name of event) at
(location) on (date)
(of course I had filled in as much as I could…) He replied with “The Youth Day is open to the public so we won’t have a credential for media.” I saved my email request and his reply with full organizational info as a PDF file and a JPG file to submit to stock websites so they’d know Michigan folks were OK with me taking photos.
– I looked over the UM football website to see that they had a roster of players with photos, so as long as I could see their jersey number I would be able to match up players to names, so I didn’t have to worry about that.
OK, off I went, went there early and they let us into the stadium, then got a cool behind-the-scenes photo of the team getting their team photo taken before the start of the event:
Then they let us in, and remembering that Shutterstock won’t accept editorial photos with identifiable children unless the child’s name is included and not wanting to deal with asking for kids’ names, I decided to focus on photos of the players only (see what I would differently below…).
The players were quite obliging, particularly if I caught them at a break between autograph seekers and asked them by their name and with a smile on my face, and wished them a good season afterwards, got lots of great close-ups of many players, including Sione Houma and Jake Ryan:
Since I started out on the field I stayed there and got shots of the freshman players, followed by a photo of coach Hoke, though not too thrilled with that one but there was a really long line so I didn’t dare ask him to pose for a photo, had to shoot between autographs… I then started with the players closest to him going around the stadium, taking the time to get an overall shot:
I worked my way around the stadium, taking photos of each player in their position, but unfortunately didn’t make it all the way around before time was up, the hour and a half just flew by! To review…
What I did right:
– Good prepwork, so I knew I had permission and that I didn’t have to waste time writing down everyone’s name.
– Asked the security folks for suggestions of strategies to take photos, they were most obliging with ideas, and treated all security folks with utmost politeness.
– Wore my cheerful “Michigan Happiness” t-shirt again, that seems to put people in a good mood.
– Kept checking photos and adjusting ISOs as needed as I went to different levels of shade, with a goal to keeping that 1/400 or 1/500 shutter speed to help ensure focus.
– Was mindful of backgrounds as much as possible. Just a few inches to one side or the other was enough to avoid having too many pop dispensers in the backgrounds.
– Focused and composed as the players were signing autographs so I knew I had the settings all good by the time I asked for their photo. I didn’t want to waste any of their time, and got most shots the first try.
– Took the time to get that shot looking down the stadium, I love the composition on that one.
What I would do differently:
– Worn more comfortable shoes, what was I thinking wearing flip flops?
– Skipped the field to start, gone with coach Hoke first then starting with the more popular players and working my way the opposite direction that I took. But then who knows, one of the freshmen I got photos of might just hit the big time and I’ll have his photo from back in the day and seem brilliant…
– Taken more photos of players “in action” signing autographs for grown-ups, thus avoiding my “no kids” rule and yet getting more action shots…
– Reminded myself of the numbers and names of the most popular players, to have a “must get” list…
You can see all the photos from University of Michigan Football Youth Day at my Shutterstock website. If you have any other suggestions for such events I invite you to share it as a comment, thanks!