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How do you photograph an NFL game during a blizzard?

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Kyle Grantham NFL
Kyle Grantham NFL

The back pages of newspapers are littered with perfectly focused snapshots of star sportsmen frozen in a moment of graceful athletic ballet. These images are so commonplace and their quality so high that we rarely stop to think about just how much effort, patience, and endurance goes into the process of obtaining them. Never mind the five-figure cost of all the gear involved.

No autofocus? No problem

Pro photographer Kyle Grantham has this week given us a peek behind the lens when working to get that perfect action shot. Assigned to cover Sunday's blizzard-stricken NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions, Grantham describes the experience as both the hardest and the most fun task he's ever had to do. His main challenge to overcome was the lack of autofocus, which was essentially disabled by the snow flurries — "imagine trying to photograph someone standing behind a waterfall."

While others opted to use wider lenses during the snowstorm, Grantham stuck with his 400mm glass and tried his best to focus each shot manually. With all the player motion and dancing snowflakes, that was no trifling proposition, but the photographer has come away feeling as satisfied as he's ever been with his work. And appreciating that AF button on his modern camera so much more as a result.