Up Close and Personal with the Cleveland Browns
Working on a Sunday would normally be one of the worst things ever, but not when you work for TRG Reality. And not when that Sunday shoot is photographing the Cleveland Browns! Yup, working on Sundays can be downright awesome. Here’s a day in the life of the TRG photographer lucky enough to work on the sidelines of FirstEnergy Stadium.
Our photographer’s day begins around 9:00 in the morning. He makes his way down to the Muni Lot to photograph the tailgaters getting pumped up for kick off. After spending an hour shooting all of the rabid fans bedecked in their orange and brown, our photographer heads towards the stadium. Strapped with two cameras around his neck (a wide lens and a zoom) and a camera bag over his shoulder containing additional utility lenses, our photographer enters, walks through the metal detectors, gets sniffed by the dogs, and then finally arrives in the bowels of the stadium. So much is happening in this portion of the stadium. Players are arriving, personnel are hurriedly walking from here to there, fans are lining up at the gates – it can be confusing and daunting, but first things first.
Our photographer will seek out and meet with the client to go over all of the shots they want taken during game day, which extends far beyond the action on the field. For example, October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so during the shoots that month, the client wanted to make sure we had shots containing the pink towels, ribbons, hats, cups, and shirts throughout the stadium. During the non-football moments, the client may ask us to snap pictures of the National Anthem, the Dawg Pound, the t-shirt toss at the end of the first quarter, the wiener dog race at halftime, the banner being rolled out after the third quarter, etc. On the south side of the stadium is “Dawg Pound Drive,” a family-friendly area of games, activities, and general shenanigans such as zip-lining, local bands, rock climbing, mechanical bull riding, and the Cleveland-area food trucks lined up along the roadside, a prime location for some really fantastic shots.
In addition to the extra events, the client may also request that we shoot from specific angles or capture a special moment of the game. We have to be quick on our toes in order to seize those shots, so it helps to have an eye for the game. For example, the client might ask for a shot from a high vantage point of what’s happening in the stadium right before a touchdown, which is very challenging since that moment has to be timed perfectly. During the Steelers’ game on October 12th, our photographer took the elevator all of the way to the top of the southeast corner of the stadium. The Browns were driving in the opposite direction, but when the quarter ended, the teams switched places on the field. Almost immediately our hometown heroes drove back towards the end zone, scoring directly below where our photographer was perched. Using a fisheye lens, he captured every fan in the stadium on their feet, fists thrown into the air, cheering wildly in solidarity. It was a beautiful moment, and is forever immortalized by our talented TRG photographer.
But with the ups come the downs. During those cold, wintry days when our boys aren’t doing too hot, it can be challenging to capture those high-energy moments from the crowd. But Browns fans are the best fans, and even when they aren’t feeling 100% enthusiastic about what’s happening on the field, we still manage to pull some amazing shots of the tried and true supporters. However, nothing can beat those sunny Sunday games when we’re dominating the field, and the energy in the stadium is utterly palpable. Perfect strangers hugging one another and sharing blissful moments of Browns magic make for some spectacular photographs, especially from the vantage point of the sidelines.
Shooting from the sidelines is not without its perks and awe. There aren’t many people that get to experience being that close to the players or the field. Our photographer gets a first-hand point of view of just how immense and athletic these guys really are. To hear them yelling to one another, commending each other, and advising their fellow players is a surreal experience. However, there is perhaps no greater feeling than lying on the cool, white-lined grass, snapping shots of the guys rushing out of the tunnel and out onto the field. How often do you work on a Sunday but get to brag about it to your friends?
Of course, there are still some rules we must make sure to abide by. Firstly, there is a dotted yellow line that rings the field, and under no circumstance are we to cross that line. During game time, our photographer will loop around the stadium, snapping shots from every possible angle and every possible vantage point. It’s an incredible job, and it makes our photographers feel quite special. Being able to stand so close to the action that if you’re not careful, a 250-pound linebacker could crush you is an absolute dream. Shooting the Cleveland Browns is not just a job for us; it’s an absolute privilege.