This year I got my first opportunity to cover the Carolina Panthers and if I might say so it's been a great year to do so.  Seeing as how they have managed to have their best start in team history and were the last undefeated team left in the league going into December.  With all that in mind I'm excited to say I got to be apart of it.  

Now on to the more important part of all this.  I wanted to take some time and reflect on the games I got to cover and discuss what I learned through this experience.  Now keep in mind that I'm thinking through is as I go so I'm not sure how much since it I'll all make in the end but hopefully it will help you not make some of the mistakes I made or pick up on something I never thought of.  

Before I get to deep in I want you to know where I'm coming from, I am practically brand new to this world called sports photography and have only been shooting for a couple of years at this point.  I've taken chances that have paid off and allowed me to cover things like this.  My advice to anyone interested in this life is to just ask if they'll let you shoot it. The worst thing will always be them saying no and eventually you won't even notice it anymore.  Ok now that's out of they way I'll get back to the point of this post which is what I learned from covering The NFL this year.  

Ok so first things first you will be overwhelmed by being on the sidelines and being so close to players and coaches you have probably admired and all there is to say is enjoy it but be smart about.  You still have a job to do so if your going to be in aww I suggest doing it through the lens of your camera, then at least your getting pictures.  Also try to get over it quick because it will mess you up as far as actually covering the game, because your going to notice your spending to much time on your team and not on the game as a whole.  Unfortunately I don't have any advice getting over It faster because I have to admit even at college games I still get caught up in the moment and forget why I'm actually there.  

The next bit you will need to now and it's going to sound weird don't waste time on the action.  Sports photography is so much more than the action, it's all about the emotion.  The excitement of the fans, the pain of defeat, and determination of the players.  So keep your eyes on everything but the field, the action will be there when you turn around.  Besides there are going to be plenty of other people whose only job is the action.  Your job is the game which is so much more important.  

The other thing I learned was don't forget about composition.  I know it's something as a photographer we should know already.  But, when you get lost in the speed and excitement of the game you'll forget about.  Know what will happen you'll have great shots that get lost in the clutter. You need to be better than the rest, thinking about where the light is and how to use it even in the middle of all that chaos. Be aware of your equipments limits and what that will do to your image, because if you do it will change the amount of time it takes for you to get noticed by others.  

Im sure there are things I'm missing and honestly every time I look back my take from a game I see new things that I should have done to get the shot I actually wanted.  That though is how this life works, people will love what you do and you will be think how to make it better next time.  So here's to what the NFL taught me in my first year and to hoping it never stops getting better.