Ever since I was young, I’ve always wondered what drove sports to be so fascinating. What exactly goes on in the studio that allows the broadcast to capture the perfect moments in sports? When Georgia played Arkansas State in September, I got to experience this job as I took the role of a sideline photographer at a college football game.
Waking up at 8:30 on a Saturday wasn’t exactly my intention to start most weekends, but this Saturday was special. This Saturday I was going to experience a UGA game like most people haven’t before, and I got to do it from a professional standpoint.
I learned so much about what goes into covering a football game. The game may only last three hours, but coverage lasts around ten, and one thing I learned was that it’s all work for ten straight hours: getting set up, shooting the photos, posting updates, and finally player interviews and other information like statistics.
When I entered the stadium, I got straight to shooting photos. The Dawg Walk was the first opportunity. At first, I thought I had really good photos. I got great shots of Kirby walking toward the locker room, but after I shot the photos I realized my settings weren’t right. All of the photos were too bright. It was at that moment that I knew that the slightest mistake could lead to drastic changes, so being prepared was key.
During the game I had a strict plan: get photos of the action coming towards me. I knew if I could shoot a jump ball or dive for the first down from only a couple yards out the photos would turn out good, and that required constant movement. The direction of the ball can change in an instant, whether with punts or turnovers, so I soon realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get every single shot. If I kept moving around I would have a better chance of getting a good shot rather than standing on the same area of one sideline. Sure enough, I snapped the perfect shot of senior wide receiver Lawrence Cager scoring a touchdown.
One main thing that I knew coming into the game and knew even more about coming out was that sports is all about the story, and it’s up to the media to capture those moments that tell the story. Everything that goes on in sports journalism — shooting photos, updating social media, commentating on a game — is all part of a large scheme to convey a story to sports fans. For me personally, this experience allowed me to see that play in action. I was able to see the story being conveyed in the moment through the media, and I’m glad this is something I get to learn early on because if I ever earn a job in the sports media landscape, I’ll look back at this opportunity to be a sideline photographer as the first step in my career.