Getting some air

Steven Perry

I shoot a lot of sports, mainly NFL, golf and soccer. I am a contributing photographer to AP Images, covering the NFL in the fall and other events throughout the year. Along with the action, I do a fair amount of sports related portraits and commercial work.

Growing up in Germany, I learned and developed a passion for real football, or soccer as they call it in the US.

When VSI-Tampa Bay announced it was forming a team to play in the USL_Pro division, I contacted the club about the chance of doing some work for them in their first season in the league.

Scott Miller Photo

After initially speaking with the club about its needs, we decided that stock action was the first major concern for them as they move forward this year. The team’s first three games were on the road, so I had to wait two weeks to finally get to shoot.

Using a former Major League Baseball spring training stadium in Plant City, Florida, VSI got the home season underway in April.

The stadium posed several challenges when it came to shooting the game, the biggest being light, or lack there of in what would be the outfield of the baseball field. Light from one end to the other varied by a full stop plus. From side to side of the soccer field was also different since on side of the field was along what would be outside the third base line where not much light is needed.

The color balance was ever changing as the game kicked off (730 pm local time) between the stadium lights started overpowering the fading ambient.

Scott Miller Photo

I took my position on the left field warning track since VSI started the game coming toward that goal. Using a Nikon 600m f:4 with a D3s and a D3 with a 70-200 f:2.8 VRII I went to work. I love shooting action with the 600, it’s a beast to use, but the compression and field of focus the 600 gives an image is unmatched.

I needed to make as many images of each player on the field to get the team a good selection of stock to use, but I also wanted to get good peak action. For me with soccer that means balls and players in the air. There are a couple of things about airborne players that can make for tough soccer images: Trying to get a clean image, most times a few players are around those in the air and of course timing the jump just right.

Scott Miller Photo

After a back and forth first 45 minutes, VSI forward Karamba Janneh was able to put home a header in stoppage time of the first half to give the home team a 1-0 lead. VSI went on to win the game 3-0.

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