Shooting an NFL Game in an Empty Stadium During COVID

Photographer Paul Rutherford is back with another behind the scenes look at what it’s like shooting professional sports during the pandemic. Previously he took us to a spectator-free MLB game at Fenway Park; today he’s showing us what it’s like working an NFL game in an empty Gillette Stadium.

Just like his MLB behind-the-scenes video, Rutherford goes into quite a bit of detail on what he can and can’t do, where he can and can’t go, and how he’s able to work within those rules to shoot, edit, and submit the kinds of images that his editors (and the public) are looking for… all from the stadium’s empty stands.

He also explains how he and the other USA Today photographer coordinate to make sure that they’re not capturing the same sorts of photos, creating a helpful diagram that shows his two favorite shooting positions for NFL photography.

Here’s a quick peek behind the scenes:

Photo by Brian Fluharty -USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

The video is titled a “Day In The Life of A Sports Photographer,” but of course this particular day is anything but typical. Shooting from the stands instead of the field is a new experience that is both good and bad. On the one hand, it changes the kinds of photos you can capture; on the other hand, Rutherford says he kind of enjoys it.

“It’s actually kind of nice shooting from the stands and being able to edit from the stands,” he explains. “Definitely you can’t get the same types of images, but you can still get a lot of great stuff and it’s still a fun time to go out there and shoot those games.”

Check out the full video up top to see what it’s like for yourself, and if you want to see more of Rutherford’s work, you can watch his MLB during COVID video here and explore his portfolio on his website or by following him on Instagram.

Image credits: All photos by Paul Rutherford unless otherwise credits. All images used with permission.

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