When shooting high school football, don’t forget feature photos

Photo by Jason Fochtman

During a recent high school football game, the local band wore special 'Marching for Ryan' t-shirts during the game.

It sparked my curiosity, and I found the shirts were for a band member who marched his last performance that night.

The 16-year-old sophomore is scheduled to have his 15th and most invasive neck surgery to drain fluid and put in metal rods to support his head. According to his mom, doctors discovered a tumor when he was nine months old that required aggressive treatment. The radiation used to shrink the tumor weakened his neck muscles and has lead to Ryan having 14 surgeries.

Photo by Jason Fochtman

When covering high school football, or any sport for that matter, it’s easy to zone in on the action happening on the field and forget that there are photo opportunities away from the action.

Had I just showed up to shoot the football action on the field, I would have missed this great story and feature art.

From the band, cheerleaders, student section, student council and fans, there are many different organizations that come together to make up the game day atmosphere.

If I have the time, I try to get to the game an hour beforehand, that way I can get my laptop set up in the press box, grab a roster and head down to shoot pregame images.

You should have plenty of good late afternoon light to work with, so look for students hanging signs, parents bringing in concession food and the band unloading and getting ready to come into the stadium.

Most of the time, photographers gather around the field to get the photo of the teams taking the field, next time try going up in the student section and look for students cheering.

Last Friday, I spent the first few minutes of the game in the stands instead of on the sidelines.

I walked away with some great images that none of the other photographers got that evening.

By Jason Fochtman

Jason Fochtman is the photo editor for the East Group of Houston Community Newspapers covering 11 papers. Prior to his current responsibilities, he served as the sports reporter and photographer for the Cleveland Advocate, Eastex Advocate and Dayton News covering seven schools.

Jason graduated from Texas Christian University in 2009 and is a former multimedia editor of the TCU Daily Skiff, as well as photos editor for the TCU Horned Frog Yearbook.

You can follow him on Twitter at @JFoch.