My Favorite 15 Football Photos of 2015

The last year was a great one for me as far as football was concerned. I shot for some great teams, and saw my images used for some great graphics and in some newspapers that I love. The season started with me shooting for Indiana State (ISU), and ended with me shooting at Illinois State (ISU). In between I shot for North Dakota State and Notre Dame for the first time. I also was able to shoot all but one of the Purdue home games. Purdue provided some great moments during the season, and any day inside of Ross Ade Stadium is a good one. Sitting back and thinking about it I cannot believe how far I have come in a  short period of time. As 2013 started I was sitting in the stands watching the Purdue football team play. This year I was able to shoot for some great schools, and even a FCS playoff game. At this rate who knows what 2016 will bring. Before we move ahead to 2016 though lets take a look at my favorite shots of 2015.

15. The first photo of the countdown was made during my trip to Notre Dame Stadium earlier this season. Notre Dame was playing Navy in one of the great rivalry games around. I love the Navy offense so it was a perfect game to shoot. Here Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise pulls away from two Navy defenders. The all out effort by the Navy defenders really makes this shot though.

14. This is not an action shot, but I love this shot of former Purdue coach Joe Tiller talking with one of his former players Vinny Sutherland. Their actual conversation was the best part, but we will stick with the photo for now. Their genuine laugh makes a great photo, and a memory of a great Purdue team.

13. Sometimes I make what I call the best available photo. This one of Illinois running back Kendrick Foster celebrating his fourth quarter touchdown at Purdue is one of those shots. It was not what I went there to make, but it was a great moment. Because I was not really shooting for anyone in particular that day I made the photo. It is a nice celebration shot that looks good on this countdown.

12. This season the West Side football team had an amazing season. They rode a hot streak all the way to the state finals in Indianapolis. Of course this was the season where I could only attend one game. For that game I took my Canon 1DX that I had just purchased to work out some of the bugs before I shot at Notre Dame the next day. I am glad that I made it though to see this special team play. I love this shot looking through the chaos to see the calm quarterback checking out his options. 

11. This season started with me shooting at Indiana State. I wanted to shoot some football so this was a great opportunity to get out and make some football photos. I couldn’t choose between these two images so I made them both a place here at #11 on the countdown. The first shot I think shows the violence of football very well. You can see the impact of the defenders facemask on the arm of the quarterback as he was sacked. I really like that photo. The bottom photo is in for more sentimental reasons than anything else. It was my first football photo published in the local paper. I have shot a lot of high school and college football in and around Lafayette, but I never had a photo published in the Journal and Courier. This shot of LeMonte Booker was my first photo to be published, and on the front page of the sports section to boot. It was for the opposing school, but it was still a great way to make it into the paper. As the season went on I would have a couple of photos picked up by the AP putting me in more papers across the country.

10. This photo is one that really like because of the eyes of the player. As Purdue receiver Gregory Phillips raced to the end zone against Illinois he checked where the defenders were on the jumbotron. That looked allowed me a better view inside of the helmet, and a picture that I really like of Greg.

9. This breaks a few rules of photography, but I like the way that Richmond Spider running back Jacobi Green is running right out of the frame. This sums up the way that he ran through the Illinois State defense in the fourth quarter of the FCS playoff game. It was fun shooting for the underdog as they advanced in the playoffs, and this was a unique photo from the night.

8. Speaking of fun I think that the photo above was made during one of the best games I shot all season. It was the Pop Warner football bowl game for the LaPorte Slicers. It was an emotional game that ended in a tie. The players really gave it their all, and I was very glad to have been able to be there to capture the moments from the game. This one though was one that I loved. The young running back jumping over his offensive lineman. It reminded me of a picture that one of my early photography influences made of the team I played for in high school. Sometimes events repeat themselves, and I was happy to be there when they did.

7. Emotion. That is what it is all about in photography. This photo is just overflowing with it. During the Nebraska football game at Purdue there was plenty of emotion to go around. Purdue senior tight end Jordan Jurasevich caught a great touchdown pass in a key moment for Purdue. His teammates flocked to him to celebrate this big moment with him. I love the emotion, and it is in the top ten because of that. Two more photos from that game are still to come.

6. The next two photos are from my trip to South Bend this season. It was great to shoot with a full crowd as my background. Here Irish receiver Will Fuller makes a catch against the Navy defense. I stayed behind the team to capture a pass coming in to a receiver, and I was happy that this one happened on my side of the field. The eyes looking the ball in make the photo.

5. Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise makes his second appearance on the countdown. Here he runs in for a second quarter score against Navy. For some reason I really seemed to have the luck to be in the right place at the right time that game. A lot of great action happened right in front of whatever position I picked. I like the wider angle made with my 70-200mm lens here as it shows just how easy the score really was.

4. Speaking of being in the right place at the right time I really lucked out here. Being on the side of the quarterback when he turned was the key here, and I just so happened to be waiting for Matt Light to introduce ‘Shout’ in between the third and fourth quarters. That position led me to make this photo of Austin Appleby using a stiff arm to buy some time. Markell Jones would run for long TD a couple of plays later, and I would have no angle on that shot. I will trade that though for this photo of Austin.

3. A common theme on this countdown is being in the right place at the right time. Here I was about 25 yards ahead of the Indiana State offense as I was covering North Dakota State. Normally I would be behind the offense, but I was trying to get a shot of the secondary. Here Bison defensive back Tre Dempsey nearly makes a great over the shoulder interception. The beauty about the still image though is the mystery of the play. I know that he did not make the catch, but years from now he will not remember that when he looks at the image.

2. Here is another great near catch. Not a lot went right for the Nebraska Cornhuskers when they visited Ross Ade Stadium this season. One thing that was nearly a sure thing was receiver Jordan Westerkamp. He caught nearly everything thrown his way. This ball was just out of reach, but it made for a spectacular photo. I was behind the Nebraska offense to make a photo of the Purdue defense, and luckily picked the right receiver where the ball was going to go. I saw luckily, but the odds were that Jordan was getting the throw here.

  1. The number one football photo of the year is this one of Purdue receiver Danny Anthrop celebrating with the fans after the Nebraska win. The team was very excited for their first Big Ten home win under head coach Darrell Hazell. They wanted to celebrate with the fans so they jumped into the stands. This spontaneous selfie was a great moment that I think conveys the emotions after the game. It is not a photo of game action, but it is my favorite football photo of the year.

Wow that was not easy to do. Each year I place my favorite photos into a special folder in my Lightroom catalog for the best of the year countdown. I had 86 in there for this season. Many of those photos have a good story or emotion in them that would have had a place at this countdown. You can view all of the photos here on my website. Taking those 86 and taking them down to the final 15 (ok 16) was not an easy task. Do you agree with my picks for the final 15. If you have any changes let me know in the comments. This was a fun year for football, and as I said above I cannot wait until next season starts.

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About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

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