As a photographer, when one frame can tell the whole story for a game, that means you were in the right place at the right time, prepared and focused - literally.
Sunday’s game against the Packers provided such a frame thanks to a dominant performance by the Panthers defense.
In the third quarter, cornerback James Bradberry made his second interception in as many games when he picked off a pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I was in the right place, prepared and focused, but not on Bradberry.
When the Panthers defense is on the field, I am often in the end zone facing them so I can see where they are looking and can anticipate which direction they will move. I also keep an eye on the opposing team’s quarterback so I can see the ball and anticipate passes or capture every moment of a sack. On this play, linebacker Luke Kuechly was in my line of view. When the ball was snapped, he ran elsewhere, but Rodgers still had the ball, so I stayed on him.
The defense had been putting so much pressure on Rodgers that he got rid of the ball before Peppers reached him - and before I could get Peppers in focus.
Rodgers’ pass sailed downfield, intended for wide receiver Jordy Nelson, but then Bradberry appeared right in front of him to pick off the ball.
Despite shooting with a 400mm lens, which usually provides a tighter shot, I was able to capture the interception wide enough to have contextual layers. This is what allows this photo to tell the whole story of the game.
To the right of the photo you see Bradberry celebrating alongside safety Jairus Byrd. To the left, Nelson is on a knee looking back at Rodgers with a defeated look. Slightly off center, you see Rodgers in the foreground. Despite the blurriness, the dejected body language is apparent: hands on hips, shoulders slightly slumped forward, quietly watching the celebration.
On Monday, Panthers staff writer Max Henson said there was a photo that was perfect for the story he wrote about this win. He showed me the shot and said, “The focus all week was on Aaron Rodgers and his return. I love how this frame turns that around completely, with the attention on the Carolina defense and Rodgers very much out of focus in the foreground. This told the gist of the story I was writing without any words needed.”
As they say, a picture says 1,000 words.