Sports Writers: Stop Reading Now

“This is not the blog you are looking for.” <waves hand suspiciously>

This is a recap of one photographer’s day with a “Photo/Media Pass” at the Outback Bowl (well, actually two photographers). We have one job. It might arguably be the stupidest job in the stadium on game day, but one that a lot of VIP’s associated with the Outback Bowl really appreciate (even if they don’t realizeĀ it). It has nothing to do with the game itself, in fact, the Outback Bowl Committee that hires me, doesn’t need me to photograph a single player at any point during the game. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the images I’m paid to take, the camera isn’t even pointed at the field – it’s pointed at a scoreboard!

Scoreboard Salutes

It takes a lot of people with a lot of money to pull together a college bowl game. The contributors, donors, volunteers, workers, and participants that make the Outback Bowl happen, are recognized on one of two scoreboards during the game – their name in lights, for ten seconds for 50,000+ people to see. My job, is to take a photograph of every name as it appears and print an image of it, so the Outback Bowl Committee can include it with their hand-written Thank You notes after the game. The list of names can include anywhere from 200-500 people, corporations, hotels, or high school bands, and may take from one to two hours to complete. That’s it! Like I said, it has to be the stupidest photography assignment in all of college football, but hey, some assignments are just built for photographers like me!

Oh, There are Perks

There is probably nothing as coveted as a sideline pass at a football game. Downside? You can’t really “see” the game from a perspective level to the playing field. Upside? You can REALLY appreciate how big, and how powerful these players are, and with a great lens and a good sense of timing and composition, you can catch an occasional awesome shot that looks like you were right in the thick of things.

Other perks at the Outback Bowl… a parking pass in the media section – right next to the gate you need to go through; full access to the sidelines (with the exception of the player’s bench area); full access to most anywhere in the stadium but the actual PressBox (separate pass needed for that); full access to the media room in the tunnel, which serves free Outback food during pre-game and half-time; access to any media-accessible practices by both teams in the days leading to the game; invites to the “Feast on the Fifty” and the “Contract Signing Party” which are both held at Ray-Jay Stadium; and just about any activity associated with the players where the media is invited.

Ten Years of Outback Bowls

I didn’t realize it until last week, but this was my tenth year of working for the Outback Bowl. It has always been a great way to start the New Year. I’m not an experienced sports photographer. Oh, I shot my share of baseball, football, and soccer images when my son was growing up, but the folks on the sidelines at college and pro games have access to lenses I don’t need in my every day work. I would LOVE to sport an 800mm lens on an assignment, but the cost outweighs the need in the portrait world, and I’m far too practical for that.

Below are just a few images taken while having “fun” and only ONE that I was paid to take. Enjoy!