Michigan State vs. Indiana

I was excited to begin my new journey as a sports photographer last season. Something new. Something Exciting. Something to sink my teeth into that I had a passion for.

As a freelance photographer, you get paid when someone purchases a photo. So with MSU’s popularity still soaring heading into the 2016 football season, I figured I’d be able to sell a ton of images, since publications want a piece of the popular program. Instead adversity hit the team. The losses piled up. Suddenly, the Spartans weren’t as popular outside of East Lansing. As a result, I’m almost certain that I wasn’t able to sell as many images as I would have if MSU had stayed on it’s 10+ win plateau.

While the team’s trouble probably effected my sales, I still had a chance to learn the craft and gain valuable knowledge on what it takes to help sell in tough times for the team you shoot.

Hopefully, those lessons have paid off now that the Spartans appear to be back on their upward trajectory. After its most recent win over Indiana, they now sit atop the Big Ten East standings at 4–0 and 6–1 overall.

Last season, there weren’t a lot of smiles. A 3–9 season and inner turmoil will do that to you.
Later on, during the walk to Spartan Stadium, they’re still smiling. I imagine they were still talking about beating the Wolverines two weeks earlier. I was smiling behind the camera because I got a shot with some nice fall foliage.
One of the reasons that the Spartans are smiling more this season. Quality leadership. Linebacker Chris Frey (23) is one of the captains on the team and by all accounts has done a phenomenal job bringing his teammates closer together.

During pregame warm ups, I try to get stock images of as many players as I can. Stock images sell well throughout the year — whenever someone writes about specific players or coaches. Football isn’t restricted to the Fall months any more. It’s a year round sport, so stock images are important. Quarterbacks, star players and coaches are some of the more important pieces to have multiple stock images of. On Saturday, I was trying to get as many images of Mark Dantonio as I could since people are looking at him as a Coach of the Year candidate.

Here’s a shot of Coach Dantonio as he watches his players go through drills during warm-ups. I like how the focus is on him, with Felton Davis III (18) providing separation between Dantonio and the foreground/background.

Band Members also provide good stock images. I always try to get a few quality images from the band’s performance.

A football helmet always provides good stock imagery as well.

As far as the game went…well it was a snooze fest. For three quarters, neither Michigan State or Indiana gained many yards. There were a lot of incomplete passes. There were also a lot of runs that got muddled up for short gains between the tackles. I mean, that was evident in the 6–3 score at the end of three quarters. As a result I didn’t get many good, clean action shots.

So when it gets boring, you try to get artistic. Panning shots. Multiple Exposure shots. I was unsuccessful with my artistry in those attempts, but I did get other, more simple shots that I thought were more artistic due to framing.

I actually love this shot of Mark Dantonio. He’s framed perfectly between two people in the foreground. The shot also shows his calm steady demeanor. He never gets too high or too low. He’s a calming influence no matter the situation. I believe this image shows exactly that.
This may not look very artistic, but I tried framing this shot differently to get a grander scope of the game. Many times images need to be close ups. But I wanted a shot of quarterback Brian Lewerke with a sense of scope. The game going on in front of him. The crowd watching behind him.

But really, this game turned out to be about the freshmen of Michigan State. Particularly wide receivers Cody White and Hunter Rison. They had multiple first down receptions on third and fourth down. MSU’s young players are growing up. Fast.

Cody White diving to ensure a first down gain in the second half.
Cody White picked up 22 yards on a 3-and-9 reception in the fourth quarter.

Cody White had a career day with 6 receptions for 99 yards.

But how about another freshman receiver in Hunter Rison? He didn’t have as many catches as White, but he had a huge fourth down reception. He gave all he could to pick up the first down as you can see below.

Look at Rison’s eyes. They’re focused on the first down. At the top, he’s looking for the first down sticks. In the bottom images he’s looking for his mark and reaching it.

On the defensive side, freshman defensive lineman Jacub Panasiuk had a big day as well. I love this series of images as he flies through the air to take down the Indiana tailback. Football is mostly about effort. And you can see it in Panasiuk’s eyes.

Blow the images up to look at Panasiuk’s eyes.

The effort of the freshmen along with the rest of the team allowed MSU the opportunity to overcome a 9–3 fourth quarter deficit to win 17–9 on touchdowns from wide receiver Felton Davis and tailback L.J. Scott. Here are the rest of my favorite images from the game.

If you liked these images, check out some other images of mine at www.adamruffphotography.smugmug.com!