Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Photographing the 49er v Cardinal game - The real winners are off the field!

For all of you football fans, you will likely appreciate this blog for the photos. But even more important than the photos themselves, is the story of why I was at the San Francisco 49er game in the first place. So I encourage all of you, even those not into football or sports, to read this blog post to be inspired by some really good people.

So now you are wondering what the heck I am referring to, right? Well...I have volunteered to photograph numerous charity events for Zane Beadles, who is a player for the San Francisco 49ers.  He has a great charity called Zanes Beadles Parade Foundation which helps kids with major medical issues. He had 13 kids (mostly fighting cancer) coming to the 49er game to watch the game from a luxury suite and then were invited to meet the players after the game. They asked me if I could photograph this for the kids and the organization. One of my clients was nice enough to move their family portrait session and I was clear for the day.

I wanted to get photos of the kids in the suite, but we all agreed that the kids should relax and have fun watching the game and not be bothered with photos. So, I went to the game figuring that I would get a couple of shots of the kids in the suite, but nothing more until after the game. This gave me lots of time during the game, so I asked my friends at the 49ers for a field pass to shoot the game. This is always a fun experience and a good challenge.

Since my primary reason for being at the game was for the kids, I decided to go to the game with only a Canon 100-400mm II lens and a Canon 24-70mm II lens. I also thought that this would be a great test of the 100-400 lens when most photographers were using the bigger 400mm f/2.8 or Canon 200-400mm lens with the built in tele converter.

I was using the Canon 1D X Mark II camera for all my sports shooting, and I used the Canon 5D Mark IV camera with the wider lens for all the kid's photos. And, as you can see from this photo, I ditched my Gitzo monopod about 30 minutes into the game and decided to go handheld for the remainder of the match (for more mobility).

I will start with my photos of the game.

The big story for the San Francisco 49ers this week was the recent addition of Jimmy Garoppolo. Even though the quarterback would not play this week, all the photographers were anxious to get photos of him in his new 49er uniform. I took this photo of Jimmy during warmups, which started about an hour before the game commenced.

At Levis Stadium, the photographers work room is right by the visiting team's locker room and entrance. Since I happened to be by the Arizona Cardinals' tunnel, I thought I would grab some shots of them entering the field.

Then I hightailed it over to where the 49ers entered the field. I wanted to get shots of Zane (#68) coming onto the field.

Then it was game time.

I made sure to get some photos of Zane in action.

A lot of the time, I was keying in on the quarterback. And C.J. Beathard (the 49er quarterback) was taking a beating all game.

He could run, but he couldn't hide.

He did throw a long ball downfield to Marquis Goodwin, who made a really nice grab.

Trailing 14 to 0, the 49ers were able to get 3 points on the board in the 2nd quarter.

I moved all around the field shooting action from different angles.

It was towards the end of the first half, when I took this photo of yet another sack of the quarterback. It was a long day for him. I decided that this would be my best time to head up to the suite to photograph the kids.

I made my way up to the suite (graciously donated by Jazz Pharmaceuticals) and introduced myself to the kids and asked to them if they were ready for some photos. They were excited for the opportunity to capture this big day.

There were supposed to be 13 kids, but some of them were too sick to make the game. The poor kids!! It made me sad thinking about how those kids were missing out on something so special, and how difficult their lives must be on a day-to-day basis.

After photographing the kids, I went back down to the field level to photograph the second half of the game.

Since the 49ers were driving down the field, I decided to position myself at the end zone. I was in a reasonably good position to get this photo of C.J. Beathard crossing the goal line for a rare 49er touchdown.

The 49ers may have scored a touchdown, but they could not slow down Adrian Peterson, who racked up 159 yards against the 49er defense.

There were a couple of times in the game when it looked like the winless 49ers may be able to get back in the game. This is one of those times, as the Cardinals fumbled the ball and the 49ers recovered it.

This photo made me laugh, because it looks like C.J. Beathard is throwing the ball right to me.

One of the last action shots I took was of Kendrick Bourne catching this pass right along the sideline where I was standing.

Towards the end of the game, I went over to the player's bench and got some photos of Zane. I also talked to him and determined where we would meet the kids after he was done in the locker room.

The game was over and most of the people had left the stadium when I saw some of the athletes exchanging jerseys. Here is a shot of Reuben Foster trading jerseys with Patrick Peterson.

I was walking back to the photographer's room through the visitor's tunnel when I heard a commotion behind me. I turned and saw Peterson coming off the field and grabbed this shot.

I then went into the photo workroom to switch from my Canon 1D X Mark II and 100-400mm lens to my Canon 5D Mark IV camera with the Canon 24-70mm II lens. I also grabbed my Canon 600 EX-RT flash with the MagMod MagSphere to use as fill flash.

But as I said at the beginning of this blog post, the real story is not about the players on the field, it is about them off the field. The real reason for me being at the game, was to photograph the kids meeting the players after the game, and I was happy to be able to capture this for Zane's charity and the kids.

The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation (ZBPF) helps raise money for the families of these sick kids, many of who have a difficult time affording anything after dealing with massive medical expenses. ZBPF partnered with The Gabby Krause Foundation to provide gifts for the kids, like you see here. Some of the player's wives made those 49er blankets for the kids.

The kids made their way down to the player parking lot to meet the players. Here is a photo of the kids with Dekoda Watson and Zane Beadles. Both of these guys were awesome with the kids.

I made sure to get photos of each kid with the players (all of which were sent to them on Monday).

For every home game, Zane is playing in honor of a different child going through a life changing medical condition. Sunday's game was dedicated to Sage, this 9 year old who is battling cancer.

This was the first time that I met Dekoda Watson, and I was so impressed with this guy. Just like Zane, he was so good with these kids!

For those of you who do not know, I spent a lot of time with the 49ers back in the days with Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Brent Jones and so many other good guys. They were classy guys who I still call friends. But then there were the years when I dealt with some of NFL athletes and was not so impressed with them as people. It was for this reason that I started focusing on the NHL players, who seemed so much more grounded.

Well...after dealing with Zane, Dekoda and many of the other 49ers at the UCSF Hospital Prom, I am happy to say that they are reaffirming my faith in NFL athletes.

These kids were so happy to get the VIP treatment at the game and to meet the guys.

These guys are the the real deal. Yes, the San Francisco 49ers are winless right now (0-9), but these guys are true winners! They are using their status as NFL players to do great things for kids and their families who are dealing with much bigger issues than winning a football game.

After taking the photos of the kids, I walked back across the field to gather my gear and head home. I got to midfield and saw this as a rare opportunity to photograph the empty stadium, but still lit. I pulled out my new iPhone X and took this panorama shot of the stadium.

It wasn't until I got home that I realized that I could combine this image with a couple of the other photos as a great gift for the kids. I am printing them on my Canon Pro-1000 printer right now.

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GreggS said...

As always Jeff, great stuff. Not only photographically, but the story behind the players. Thanks!

PS: What was your evaluation of the 100-400 vs the 200-400 besides the obvious of not having the TC built in?

Unknown said...

What an amazing story . With too many horrible stories filling out days it is so wonderful to hear a wonderful, kind , feel good story . It had to be the time of their lives for the kids . To be the center of attention for fun and exciting things as the majority of dealing with being so sick you are the center of needles , tests , being probed and more bad than good news . It is so heartwarming to see these amazing talented player and an equally talented photographer sharing these talents to give the children an amazing fun day and bonus to go home with lots of things to remember the day . Class act by your football friends and yourself . You guys rock ! ��������

Jenn Cusack

Unknown said...

Hey Jeff - curious in the past you've always talked about how much you shoot in AV mode as you like to control the DoF. For events like this do you shoot with shutter priority or stick to aperture and adjust ISO needed to get your shutter speed?


Unknown said...

That's Patrick Peterson. (A Cardinals fan😊)

Unknown said...

P.s. Love your blogs!

Unknown said...

Wonderful story. There are some classy NFL players; too little attention is paid to these great guys.
Thanks for highlighting two.

Unknown said...



Greg G said...

Dick H. is right, #21 is Patrick Peterson, not A.P. (Vikings fan) =)
Great blog as always. I've really learned a lot from you.

AC Perugia said...

As you shared the photos with player is very attractive and beautiful to capture the viewers on our website but as you see that the because of covid pandemic there is not so much matches are organized but also then the coaches are providing the online registration to get participate in their team to attend the football program abroad where anyone can register themselves.