As the NFL ramps up for a new season where visual content will be key to engaging fans, we asked NFL Director of Photography and Lead Photographer Ben Liebenberg and his team to share their secrets in an “Ask Me Anything” conversation on Slack.
Members of our creative Slack community chimed in with questions covering everything from advice for rookies to personality traits that make a successful sports photographer.
Skim through some of our top favorite takeaways below, and join the Slack community to catch up on the full AMA – trust me, this only scratches the surface of this hour-long flurry of conversation. Plus, when you join, you’ll be the first to know about our upcoming Slack AMAs – you won’t want to miss the next chance to get all your questions answered. And, don’t forget to follow the work of these incredible photographers on Instagram at @nflfocus.
5+ Tips from the NFL Photo Team
1. Get ahead of the game.
When Te asked our experts how they prepare for each game, here’s what they had to say:
“Know the team, the players, coaches. Also watch the formations as players line up.” – Ben Liebenberg
“I always try to do some research before I get out there to know the storylines of the games, if anyone is coming back from injuries, getting close on breaking records, etc. then make sure to check the live game stats to see who the post game stories will most likely be on and make sure I get some good images of those players as well.” – Cooper Neill
“I try to watch the highlights of the team and know style, but honestly, we are often telling the story of the game, so it’s a matter of just getting to know the teams and the field. Get to the game early.” – Todd Rosenberg
2. Being a good photographer < being a good person.
One simple theme kept coming up when our community members asked about common personality traits for successful sports photographers: be a good person.
“Be a nice person and have a good business sense.” – Ric Tapia
“The best photographers are the ones that can build the best relationships.” – Ben Liebenberg
“You must be dependable, consistent, and a great listener. Willing to go above and beyond what is requested of you.” – Perry Knotts
3. Don’t give up.
When Christina asked what photographers who discovered their love for photography later in life can do to get started, Todd Rosenberg shared a wonderful piece of wisdom from his 34 years in the NFL:
“You need to pursue anything you love no matter when you find it. There are people who are successful starting out at an older age. It’s true that the field is different but you just need to work hard and network.” – Todd Rosenberg
4. “Be a tick” and make connections.
When Zoe asked the team how she could break into the industry, our photographers had a ton of great tips:
“Find the people you like, make contact, be persistent. One of my friends told me a long time ago. ‘Be a tick’ burrow your head in their skin until they light a match.” – Todd Rosenberg
“Reach out to photographers/editors – DM them on instagram if you can’t find their email. Fostering relationships often lead to internships!” – Michael Owens
“Shoot a lot. Shoot every level of sport and different sports. Build a solid portfolio. You will naturally meet more people at these events you can network with. Face to face is the best way to network.” – Ric Tapia
5. Take it all in.
Caitlyn asked the team for their biggest piece of advice for shooting their first NFL season, and the response was unanimous:
“Enjoy every moment of it!” – Ric Tapia
“Keep that head on swivel! You’re going to kill it!” – Logan Bowles
“SOAK IT UP! Enjoy and work hard. You already know what it takes!” – Todd Rosenberg
Want to check out the full conversation?
Join the Slack community to learn about this team’s gear, their worflow, whether or not they shoot in manual or automatic, how they got their starts in the league, and so much more!