Go Behind the Scenes With an NFL Team Photographer on Game Day


The Los Angeles Chargers have revealed what game day is like for its team photographer Mike Nowak in a fascinating behind-the-scenes video.

Nowak is in his 25th year and has shot a staggering 524 games in a row. But the lens was flipped on him for a short documentary following him around on game day.

The level of preparation is inspiring for any shooter as Nowak arrives at 07:00 on game day to make his inventory checks as he attempts to cover as much of the event as possible.

“It gives us a little time to set up and if there are any problems we can fix them,” Nowak explains in the video. (Unfortunately the full video cannot be embedded so PetaPixel has linked to it instead).

“We can get into situations where one of my clamps isn’t working, one of my transmitters, the batteries are dead, can’t find the ladder — photography is basically just problem-solving.”

Nowak appears to be using a Canon 1D with all manner of lenses including a 400mm and a 600mm, wide lenses, 70-200mm, and his personal favorite: a 135mm f/1.8.

Nowak explains that with practice, he can predict where the quarterback Justin Herbert is going to throw the ball by “looking at his eyes and his body language” and switching cameras from a 400mm to a wider lens during a play. The 400mm is for capturing the throw and the wider lens capturing a celebration — if it all goes to plan

NFL celebration

On game day, Nowak sets up remote cameras and also uses a utility belt that stores extra batteries, flashguns, and water.

After taking a few shots of player’s jerseys and an empty locker room inside the SoFi stadium, the players begin arriving with Nowak on hand to follow them. All the time as he’s shooting he can wire the photos to a dedicated picture editor.

“This is set up to a dedicated web link, we have a lot of bandwidth so we can send photos throughout the game really quick,” he explains.

“I let the editors pick out the best one. I’ll get down low, I’m shooting really shallow depth-of-field. Some of these I know will look better in black and white.”

Football catch

The full video is well worth checking out to see how a consummate professional like Nowak does his job.

Image credits: Los Angeles Chargers