Capturing the End Zone: A Close Lens on the Action from the Big Game

by Andrew Hancock
Advertising and Editorial Photographer

Looking back at Professional Football Championship Game, I still think I am exhausted from my time in San Francisco. It was a blast but also very exhausting…as good work should be! I took around 10,000 photos during my time in town. Around 8,000 came from game day alone. Leading up to the game, I had to install remote cameras at the stadium, get a feel for the facility and shoot scenes all around all of the event sites, and all over downtown San Francisco for the various projects/assignments that ESPN had for our team of photographers.

Game day began by arriving at the stadium about an hour before the rest of the media/photo contingent so we could beat the lines at security, which were robust to say the least!  Once inside the stadium, I marked my spot in the end zone I would be covering so I would have the ability to roam on my end of the field when the situation warranted, but also so that I would have one secure spot to return to every time after I moved.

With the amount of people on the field, covering an event like the Big Game it is incredibly challenging. The sidelines are incredibly congested and this can significantly limit where you can do and where you can shoot from to make your picture. Aside from four remote cameras that were installed on the roof of the luxury boxes, I also rotated between shooting with five cameras on the field that were lensed with everything from a 14mm to a 600mm.

Most expected a strong Carolina showing. However, the old saying about defense winning championships rang true as the #1 ranked defense beat the #1 offense and did so in a fashion that seemed much more dominant than the score showed. While the matchup between Peyton Manning and Cam Newton drew the most attention, in preparing for the game, I was more interested in the matchup between Newton and Bronco defense Von Miller. When Newton was taken with the #1 overall pick in the draft, many did not realize that the person taken second in the draft was Von Miller by Denver.

Throughout the game, I had an assistant/runner to handle cameras I did not need at the particular moment and to shuttle memory cards back to our editors who were working away ingesting and editing photos as they were delivered…all appropriately on G-Technology G-Drive EV SSDs of course! In a situation like the Big Game, it is ALL about speed. While the game did not have a lot of the big play excitement that many were hoping for, I enjoyed photographing the battle as it played out, even though it meant some subdued imagery in lacking of the big play fireworks. In the end, I still feel that I and our team came away with a very strong set of images to tell the story not only of the game but of the whole experience.

Overall, the work our team created found its way across the ESPN website, social media and on network broadcast. To see more great action images from the Big Game and the behind the scenes action, check out the links below:

Game Gallery 

Behind The Scenes 

San Francisco Big Game activities 

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