What’s It Like to Shoot an NFL Game During COVID?

It’s fascinating to get an insight into how major sporting events are documented by photographers and perhaps even more so when the stadiums are empty due to COVID. Photographer Paul Rutherford talks you through game day, from gear to workflow and where he positions himself.

There are a few interesting details that leap out, such as Rutherford’s choice of using the slightly older Canon 7D Mark II to get more reach as a result of the crop sensor, and opting to shoot in JPEG. The smaller files dramatically speed up his workflow, and as he notes in the comments, the files he’s uploading to USA Today are all under 2 MB each.

If you’re wondering how he manages to turn around images so quickly at half time, Rutherford is tagging images as he shoots. This means that he only pulls in around a hundred images for the first half rather than the thousand or so that he’s captured.

And if you’re confused, a code replacement is a means of dramatically speeding up your tagging when using PhotoMechanic. Rutherford has an entire video explaining how he does it, which you can check out here. You can check out Rutherford's other work by visiting his website.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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That's very interesting. Thanks for posting Paul Rutherford's video. After being denied access to the Saints vs Buccaneers game, I wondered about the perspective of the new rules. In the new college format, we're not allowed to be in the stands regardless if a certain section is empty. I can't wait for Covid to be gone.

The rules are different in ever stadium from what I've seen. Even within Gillette between football and soccer. When shooting MLS there you are assigned a section and can't leave that section, but can move within the section.