November 17, 2019

Creative Process - Preparing, Planning and Photographing Football

I previously worked for many years as a photojournalist, but rarely shot sports.  Planning to photograph a football game at American International College, where I teach, I looked online for effective strategies.  I also looked at amazing football photos for inspiration.

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Before leaving my car to shoot, I sketched different ideas of the types of images that I wanted to capture.

Celebrating, Laying Out to Catch a Pass, Making a Tackle
It proved valuable to have this vision of what I wanted to document.

Kyle Boyer-Tucker Laying Out to Catch a Pass
Kyle took my Digital Photography 1 class a few years ago.  So great to see him on the field.

Jaysen Thompsen Celebrating
As I walked behind the AIC bench with my gear, I ran into linebacker Gates Kelliher, currently a student in my History of Photojournalism class.  We fist bumped.

Here is Gates (43) Making a Tackle

Later, once again traversing the AIC bench as the action shifted to the other end of the field, I heard Gates yell to me, "Hey Professor.  The leaves!"  A reference to the sun drenched fall beauties adjacent to the field.  I was trying to capture game highlights, but Gates' enthusiasm about photography in this moment became a highlight of my teaching career.

The Handoff, with Leaves

Experimentation - Searching for Art in Structured Complexity

One of the preparatory articles I read suggested to stretch your legs before game time, to be ready to run down the sidelines when field position changed quickly.

The Prof in Action - Photo by AIC Graduate Samira Abdul-Karim

My legs were fine.  However, kneeling for hours while steadying the camera, along with dipping my head to review the images, left me with a sore neck.  It's sometimes hard to prepare for everything.  That's part of the process.

I later asked two Visual and Digital Arts majors that I photographed to write about the connections between playing football and creating images.  Click here to read their reports and see their images.

Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at  Instagram: @john.nordell