When you think of bowl games in College Football, you think the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and yes, the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl is one of the premier bowl games that always hosts some of the top teams in College Football. For the 2022 Capital One Orange Bowl, No.6 Tennessee and No.7 Clemson battled it out at Hard Rock Stadium and I was there to capture it all.
I won’t lie. I was a little shocked that my application for the 2022 Capital One Orange Bowl got accepted. I mean hell, for the past 10 years I was denied and this year I was in. Grateful and excited don’t even begin to explain how I felt when I got the great news.
For big games like this there is always a ton of media, including photographers. I’ve been to the Orange Bowl many times as well as watched it on TV and I knew the sidelines would be lined up with photographers from endzone to endzone. I was a little nervous going in. I wanted to get some great shots, but I also didn’t want to get blocked out by other photographers. First big time College Bowl game and I wanted to make the best of it.
Once I walked through those media doors, the nerves were gone. I told myself that with big time games, in big time environments; I belong and I was going to show that I do belong shooting on the biggest stages in sports.
I got there early enough that I was able to shoot with some of the wire service photographers there as we got the stadium shots with all the logos and signage. I went out to the fan experience section and was able to get some shots of both bands and cheerleaders as they pumped up their respective fan bases. I will say this, Tennessee fans roll deep.
Pre-game shots for me are usually detail shots such as helmets, decals, patches etc. I use pre-game to dial in my exposure or fool around with different settings just to be different.
I didn’t have time to run back and forth between both teams coming out as they were on opposite sides of the field, so for introductions I decided to shoot the Tennessee Vols entrance since they were considered the home team for the 2022 Capital One Orange Bowl.
Once the game started I found my rhythm on the sidelines. I was moving freely and I was getting to my spots except when the ESPN camera guy just walks in front of you and stands there. I really have no love for those guys and I’m not the only one.
The game itself really didn’t get into a good flow until the second half. There wasn’t much action in the first and the biggest factor was that the Clemson kicker missed his first three field goal attempts. I never seen anything like it. I’m not sure if it was nerves or what, but when he kept coming back out to kick my face cringed.
There wasn’t really a lot of big plays or exciting plays to be had. The defenses were getting to both quarterbacks routinely which made a lot of my photos either a sack or a qb scramble. Tennessee did make more of the big plays and that was why they won the Orange Bowl.
Post game celebrations are an entirely different beast. It’s chaos and mayhem. Players, coaches, staff, family members, media; just all converging in one spot. We were able to photograph the award ceremony from risers which is typical for big games like this. But once the presentation was over it was bedlam.
If you ever photograph a bowl game, playoff clinching moments or a championship game remember the team always gets together for a team photo. Now imagine 20+ photographers all wanting to be in the middle to capture the team photo and everyone pushing people forward to get the shot. In sports photography, the best photos pay and everyone is looking to get paid. If you think the athletes hit hard on the field or do some holding, you’ve never been in a photographer scrum.
All I can say for my first experience shooting an Orange Bowl is that it won’t be my last. I’m meant for big games like this. Check out some of my favorite photos below or some band shots and other photos on my Instagram account.