Tony the Tiger had the honor of flipping the coin for the 2019 Sun Bowl
featuring Arizona State versus Florida State
The days business starts hours before the game for those of us working behind the scenes at a major sporting event such as the Sun Bowl. For a photographer, it begins the night before, charging batteries, cleaning lenses and digital sensors, packing your laptop and gear in the bag, even deciding the appropriate attire based on the weather. The forecast predicted cool temps, with sunny skies, so I opted for an athletic, sporty and layered ensemble. Shorts underneath warm up pants, long sleeve shirt underneath a short sleeve shirt, topped off with a zip up hoodie and vest along with a beanie and cap that I could switch back and forth between depending on how cold my ears were (I don't like my ears to be cold).
Arriving early to the stadium is essential for several reasons; firstly, the photo trailer is smallish with limited desk space which is unreserved, first come first serve. Unlike in the press box where journalists have reserved desk space, the difference being that the textual journalists are there to write about the game, whereas us photographers will spend the majority of our day getting our steps in, on the field and around the stadium, only needing desk space occasionally, to upload our images to our respective publications. Secondly, and far less important, is to secure a good parking space. It is true that we photojournalists get parking passes in one of the prime parking lots, but it's still the best policy to arrive early for good parking. (Isn't that true for any similar events?) And lastly, I like to arrive early to capture images before the fans arrive, when the stadium is generally empty. There's a palpable calm before the storm and I like to try to capture that blend of eerie emptiness and the feeling of anticipation in some of my images.
Pictured above: this is a relatively light kit for me for a sporting event. In the past I would carry a heavy bag, with several lenses and battery packs. But recently I have preferred to carry the smaller, lighter Sony mirrorless bodies and APS_C sensors due to their longer reach (crop factor 1.5). I mounted a good spectrum of lens options and did not bring any other lenses other than what was already on the three camera bodies I brought along. Pictured left to right: Sony A6300 with Sony G 18-105mm. Center, Sony A7II with Sony 16mm fisheye lens, Sony A77II with Sony G 70-300mm lens.
Ace Acosta, of the El Paso Herald Post at his work station in the Sun Bowl photo trailer.
Armando Vela shows off his new "big dawg" telephoto lens, the Canon 300mm f/2.8
Myself (right) and my good friend David Davis who was shooting the halftime show/
The view from the press box.
As game time nears, the team buses arrive, announced by the unnecessary wailing of police sirens, fans have begun their tailgating traditions, marked this year by fire pits which most are huddled around in an attempt to keep warm. Some have already begun tossing their first ping pong balls into plastic cups filled with beer. I never understood the concept of beer pong. Can't I just get straight to drinking the beer without the pong?
Ah, then there's the smell of the ribs on the countless grills, the hickory BBQ smoke rising and dispersing through the air like the unmistakable aroma of a football game tailgate. My good friend and local photographer, David Davis and I, take a long walk around the exterior of the stadium to find what we can find, taking in the sights and sounds along the way. Ivan Aguirre of EP Visuals stops and offers us a ride in his Sun Bowl provided golf cart, which, as the official photographer for the Sun Bowl Association, he is entitled to (a handy perk no doubt). We head up to the fan zone but find it a little dead, but at least we enjoyed a free ride in the golf cart. But now, game time is rapidly approaching...
A Florida State football helmet. The Arizona State helmet is absent as I had arrived 3 seconds after their equipment manager ran off with it. However, I managed to catch the Florida State guy and politely asked him if I could get a quick shot, to which he replied in the affirmative.
A view of the 50 yard line and Sun Bowl logo as viewed from the seats.
The Arizona State team buses arrive at the Sun Bowl along with their police escorts.
No better way for a child to get to the stadium than on dads shoulders.
Ivan Aguirre of EP Visuals was nice enough to stop and give us a ride
Armando Vela totes around his new Canon 300mm f/2.8 lens.
David Davis walks down the tunnel leading to the field, flaked by local concert photographer, TIm Schumann, who was on hand to shoot photos of the halftime headliner, the rock band P.O.D.
It was an exciting game, won by Arizona State by a final score of 20-14. The game started with two fumbles and a blocked kick in just the first three minutes of the game! I'm not going to lie, the best part of having a press pass to sporting events is having the "best seat in the house" (although the only time I sat down all day was to eat my Chic fil A chicken sandwich (I took off the pickles).
And it is from the point forward that I will let my images tell the rest of the story. After all, this is a photography blog, which I interpret to mean that you are primarily here to view my images, not read my words. After all, I was on the field snapping photos, not up in the press box taking notes and writing words.
Enjoy the photo gallery. The photos are not in chronological order.
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Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards
Ivan of EP Visuals
A videographer from Arizona Atate appears to be shooting video with a Sony FS5 and 18-200mm
Mark Lambie of the El Paso Times
The halftime entertainment was provided by the rock band P.O.D.
Visit El Paso mascot, Amigo Man!
This is the moment where I also got crushed by 4 football players.
David Davis and Armando Vela
David Davis and Tim Schumann
For the coin toss, I got down low, basically on the ground with my fisheye lens. Mind you, I wasn't down on the ground by choice necessarily. Every single press photographer at the game is jockeying for a position to be able to shoot the coin toss. Thanks to my military training, I knew to get down low and crawl to an opening. I was basically on the foot of the referee nearest me. But, it made for a dramatic angle, don't you think?
This police Sergeant was all business