Last year I was given the most exciting opportunities I have had in my 20 years so far. Thanks to a family friend, I had to opportunity to obtain a media pass to a University of Tennessee football game and shoot the game along with my dad.
Until this point, I had only been able to shoot games at my high school and Tusculum college, which I currently attend. I looked forward to shooting at my college every weekend and I was through the roof excited to go shoot this game. Having grown up in Knoxville, I had been to plenty of UT football games but never experienced one from the sidelines.
When we arrived at the stadium I was blown away by everything I saw. We entered through the media room and it was nicer than anything I had worked in at Tusculum. The food was great, there were tables provided to work at, and in the back there was a room to hold post-game press conferences. I was already in shock and then Dad and I stepped onto the field. Being in the stands does not accurately portray the sheer size of major college football stadiums. We exited the tunnel and the only things I could see were the field and the inside of the stadium. I had to look straight up to see the sky. It was amazing to be at the bottom of a one hundred thousand person stadium and realize that I was in a place that many people can only dream of.
The game started and I tried to do what I know. I thought to myself, I've shot games before this is nothing different. I was half right. Yes, it was like any other game in the sense that you get down there, do what you do best, and take pictures. The only difference was in the scale of the event. At Tusculum there are maybe 10 people covering the game at a max. At Tennessee there had to be 100 people covering the game just on the Tennessee Tech sideline. It was much more crowded and keep in mind this was the Tennessee Tech game. Imagine the sidelines crawling with cameras and people during the Alabama, LSU, or any other big game. The cameras! I had never been so close to such high end camera gear. That's something we don't see at Tusculum. My lens which made me look like the most professional photographer on the field at Tusculum was dwarfed in comparison to some of the other people at this game.
For the first quarter and a half, I was in shock by the scale of everything. I was shooting anything and everything, and by halftime I had taken a thousand pictures. I finally settled in and got to work doing what I loved; taking pictures. I started to move around the field, not too much through because unlike at Tusculum I didn't want to lose my spot. My media vest got me everywhere I wanted to go and I felt so official. I was in heaven, there was nothing I would rather have been doing. But before I knew it the game was drawing near a close. I had spent the last four hours doing what I loved on the biggest stage I had ever been on.
In terms of quality of the game it was a blowout. Tennessee Tech did not manage to score and lost 55-0. But I did not care, I had the experience of a lifetime. I had gotten to do something that I loved, and until then had only been a hobby of mine, in a place that many people can only dream. I can only hope that I get many chances to do it again in the future.