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Last summer I had the very good fortune of being asked by the Minnesota Vikings team photographer, Andy Kenutis, if I would like to join his 4-man group of team photographers for all of the Vikings home games for the 2013 season. It was a great opportunity to shoot on behalf of another major sports team that allowed for unique access. I had never photographed football before, so I had some on-the-job learning to do.
The first thing I learned is that shooting football is WAY more exhausting that shooting baseball. I can’t overstate that enough. In baseball, all of the action basically stays within shooting distance of your camera. You basically just find a spot in one of the photo wells around the infield and you sit there, comfortably, until you decide you want to go sit in a different photo well. However, with football the action is moving from end to end of a 100 yard long field and you have to move with it carrying all your camera gear. Also, you can’t sit during the game since you’re moving all the time, so to get low (for better shots generally) you have to kneel down. To help with that I bought some kneepads that helped quite a bit, but my legs were usually a little sore the day after shooting a game. At every game I also setup a remote camera near the top of the Metrodome to capture stadium-wide shots during the games using my Nikon D800 and 14-24mm lens. So running from the field to the top of the Metrodome and back before and after every game also added to the workout!
Shooting on behalf of the Vikings meant my job at the games was a little different than most of the other photographers shooting the game. For one thing it meant I really didn’t have to pay attention to the visiting team. I really enjoy being able to focus on just one team because it means I can focus on things that maybe not everyone else there will be looking at. However, it also meant I had to shoot other things like pre-game activities on the field that the Vikings were hosting. Before each game I would get a shot list of things that I needed to cover for the game including things like the national anthem before the game, cheerleader performances between quarters, and halftime events.
The best part of shooting for the Vikings is that the team photographers get to wear bright green photo vests instead of the brown ones worn by the general media. The bright green vests allowed for on-field access during pre-game warm-ups. I also got to be on the field during the national anthem, which created more unique opportunities that most other photographers didn’t have. Compared to shooting general game coverage shots that editorial shooters need to do, I really enjoyed working on behalf of the team where my job was more focused on creating marketing photos instead as well as just documenting the games for more historical purposes that the team could use in their archives. The thought process is slightly different and I like shooting from that different perspective than most of the other shooters at the game.
In addition to shooting all of the home games, I also was asked to shoot a couple non-game events. Between games the Vikings have A LOT of charity events and player appearances throughout the season. One the events I helped cover was the Taste of the Vikings event that was hosted at Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe amusement park. It was a charity event where lots of local restaurants provided food and drink stations along with silent auctions and player photo and autograph opportunities. This was a general view shot I took of the event:
Another unique event I got to cover was a player appearance event in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where Toby Gerhart and Josh Robinson surprised some high school players that had won a contest. The Vikings chartered two small planes to fly to Sioux Falls for the afternoon and I got to fly with a couple of the cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking. Not a bad gig at all!
Overall I really enjoyed shooting for the Vikings this season and after a bit of a learning curve I think I started to get the hang of shooting football. So without further delay, please take a look at what I chose as some of my favorite photos I shot this season. Note, you can click on the photos to view them slightly larger.
Former Minnesota Vikings great Cris Carter was honored during one of the games for his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.
One of the great things I got to cover was the final Vikings game to ever be played at the Metrodome. The Dome will be deflated on January 18th, 2014 for the final time and it will be torn down to make way for the Vikings new stadium. For the next two seasons the Vikings will play outdoors at the University of Minnesota Gophers stadium, TCF Bank Stadium. It was nice to be able to cover such a historic game. I was even fortunate enough to have the final touchdown to ever be scored in the Metrodome happen right in front of me when Cordarrelle Patterson scored the game-winning touchdown against the Detroit Lions.
This photo was shot from my remote camera I had setup and it captures the crowd going wild as Patterson scored the touchdown.
After the game the Vikings held a ceremony where several people gave speeches including former Minnesota Vikings great coach Bud Grant.
Thanks to Brace Hemmelgarn for snapping this shot of me on the field after the final game.
Farewell Vikings season and farewell to the Metrdome!
Thank you, Andy Kenutis, for the great opportunity you gave me this season!
All content Copyright 2009-2014 by Ben Krause | Freelance Photographer based in Minneapolis, MN | 612.799.6008 | firstname.lastname@example.org