Lovejoy: Electric thrill from shooting football

49ers vs. Cardinals

It all started for me when I was 9 years old, shortly after the 1989 Loam Prieta earthquake. On the sidelines of a Cabrillo College football game, being played at Aptos High, due to damage to Cabrillo’s stadium suffer in the earthquake, that’s where I caught the bug of sports photography, and that is when I took my first published photo, a Seahawks player returning an interception for a touchdown. On a night where my dad gave me an extra camera to roam the sidelines and shoot alongside for one the first times at a game, it was where I realized I loved doing this. It was more luck than anything else that got me that shot, but it made me want to shoot more, especially football.
Working for various newspapers for 15 years, the longest of that with the Hollister Free Lance, I have shot my fair share of football games. Ranging from Pop Warner to powder puff and from high school to the NFL, I can honestly say it doesn’t matter what or who are playing. I always find it fun to shoot football.
On a recent weekend, I was able to once again fortunate enough to shoot another 49ers game. I have shot them many times, mostly those played at Candlestick. Growing up with a photojournalist as a father, he was able to get me on the sidelines as early as 14-year-old. I had a lot of great times and made some decent photos over the years of shooting there. But there are many differences about shooting at Levi’s Stadium. The biggest one to me as how they treat and accommodate professional photogs. And you simply need to take a look at the media room provided to them to work, eat and beat deadline in.
Back at Candlestick, the halftime food was a cold hot dog, which you had to race to get or they would run out, and this weird orange drink they would give you. Now you walk into a culinary treat, with bacon mac ’n cheese and pulled pork. There’s a dessert table with cookies and mini-cupcakes. You have the RedZone channel on four or five TVs, and for us fantasy players, that means a lot. There are nice big workstations for everyone to use and the staff is very helpful.
Once you hit the field, it’s all about the players and the game, with the exception of the some crazy fans, crazy coaches and a cheerleader or two. Anywhere you look, you can find an interesting subject to shoot. That’s why I love shooting football: The action is great and challenging, and the atmosphere is electric. Well maybe not so much at Levi this year, but we’ll be back.
I hope to continue to shoot as much football as possible, and who knows? Maybe I’ll pass it on to one of my kids, that same way it was passed on to me.