For most of us, when we head to a professional football game, our prep includes a cooler, a portable grill and an almost maniacal belief that our team will win.For David Silverman, the prep is a bit different. For the past 19 years, Silverman has roamed the sidelines for professional and collegiate football games, including the New England Patriots. In the week leading up to the game, he religiously checks the weather. Is the temperature going to dip below freezing? If so, he packs extra batteries and a box of hand warmers for both his fingers and his camera. Are they expecting 75 mph winds? If so, he makes sure he has the right equipment to keep his camera steady. The prep is critical because once the game begins, Silverman's job is to capture everything.
"My job is to capture everything that happens on the game day," said Silverman. "I make sure to get great images of everyone, particularly for colleges, so that whomever curates the images has high quality photographs of everyone."
In an age when everyone has a digital camera, Silverman focuses on seeing aspects of the game in different ways and to take in all the action, both on and off the field.
"Of course, having the right equipment is so important," said Silverman. "But having the vision of what's going on in the game and everything going on around you – the crowd, the cheerleaders, the coach – that's where you get the more interesting shots. One game, it rained constantly. Then suddenly the sun came out. The photograph juxtaposing the ball and feet covered in mud, while being bathed in sunlight provided such a unique view of the game."
Silverman also thinks about all the different ways an image can be used by his clients.
"Don't think of the image as just an 8x10" print. What are the other uses for it?" said Silverman. "FACEBOOK, a program, internal marketing materials, end of season materials? Colleges may need something for the Internet while others within the organization may want images to create gifts for the players. Someone else within the organization may have a completely different vision of how to use an image. So not only should you shoot a lot of things, but shoot the same thing in different ways. Ensure that your image has multiple purposes."
In addition to game day activities, Silverman also works with professional and college teams to develop all photography for the season. Preparing for these sessions are critical, as Silverman will have a finite amount of time to capture the necessary images.
"In general, my customers need a game shot, head shot, posed action shot and a team photo," said Silverman. "For one college, I set up a studio in the locker room for suit and tie pictures. Then we head outside to shoot all the players and coaches – 3 to 4 shots of each guy and multiple shots of each position. All this needs to be done in less than 90 minutes."
Finally, Silverman stresses that photographers need to remain steadfast in their value as a professional. This includes everything from how to market services to how they present themselves at events.
"Dress for your environment. If everyone else is in suits and ties, wear the same thing," said Silverman. "To get the best pictures you need to blend in."
This professionalism extends to pricing services, protecting image rights and delivering professional output. Silverman admits this has become increasingly challenging in recent years, but stresses that professionals need to remain steadfast in their value. For example, Silverman did extensive research to develop a sophisticated photo ordering website that allows him to maintain a direct line of communication with his customers throughout the entire order process. This ensures every customer receives both high quality output as well as high level of service.
"Believe in your talent, don't give stuff away," said Silverman. "And keep in mind, your pictures and how they look printed is just as important as how you capture them."
Silverman cites his long relationships with Printmakers, his lab partner for 18 years, as a key part of his success. Silverman first started working with Tony Rodrigues and Printmakers because he would turn prints quickly. In recent years, Printmakers has also worked with Silverman to develop new products offerings for his clients.
"When the professional team first started a newspaper, Tony would actually come to some of the games with me and would take the film at the end of the 3rd quarter, go develop it and bring it back," said Silverman. "The newspaper, with the images, would be available within three hours of the game ending. Tony understands, to this day, that 'an hour later' is too late. If we need a print, we need it now."
Silverman also says that because of his long relationship with Printmakers, he knows that his work will always come back and meet his personal style. He knows that his work will come back how he wants, when he wants it, which is particularly crucial with the immediate deadlines Silverman faces when working with professional teams.
"I like pictures printed a particular way," said Silverman. "Printmakers knows that I want this type of print and that I don't have time for a reprint. I need it right away – the customer can't wait. Printmakers is on the ball."
More about David Silverman: http://dspics.net... and on FACEBOOK.