What it’s like to photograph the NBA Finals


Boston-based sports photographer, Paul Rutherfordshares what he photographed in the last three games of the 2022 NBA Finals, including his multiple photo positions, pre-game and post-game coverage, and how he sends images to editors.

In the ten-minute video, Rutherford covers a variety of things he needs to think about in preparation for such a big photographic event as the final, such as arriving at the arena more than three hours early, his suggested lenses and equipment, how he selects his favorite footage, and how he sends the footage to the editing team.

Rutherford had the chance to shoot the final for USA Today Sports with three other photographers and several editors – which made it easier to deliver his images knowing he didn’t have to spend time processing them for publication – allowing him to focus purely on the action and d get the perfect shot.

Rutherford explains how important it is to get to the venue for events like these incredibly early to make sure he has time to check all his gear, secure wireless connectivity and find the locations perfect for taking pictures as, usually, once it’s located. , it won’t move until the game is over and everyone goes home.

Rutherford further explains how he uses a mobile hotspot plugged directly into his Canon 1DX to select and send images directly from his camera to a folder on the editor’s computer, allowing them to choose which were best. , making sure they were crisp, cropped, and properly captioned before uploading to the client. At the end of the game, the team would provide around 200 images ready for publication.

When shooting from positions around the pitch with fans nearby, Rutherford says it’s important that photographers don’t obstruct anyone’s view and for that reason it’s even more important to communicate and work with a good team because very often the photographer’s view will be blocked and prevented from shooting. If a photographer gets stuck, hopefully one of the other team members will be in a position open enough to capture that epic moment. In these scenarios, it’s also important to have telephoto zooms so you can quickly adapt to a wide or long shot to capture a particular moment.

In situations where photographers don’t have a static base to shoot from, using a mobile hotspot isn’t really an option. At times like this, Rutherford explains how a prepared team will also have card runners to stay close to photographers so they can quickly swap out a memory card and literally pass it on to editors. To save editors even more time, Rutherford says it’s also important to tag and rate camera footage he deems good enough so editors don’t have to sort through the quantity. mass of images.

As you can see from the photos provided by Rutherford, there are a lot of variables involved in filming live events that require him and his crew to be ready for just about anything. It takes a lot of practice to become familiar with how these events unfold and to identify where the best spots to “get the picture” will be at any given time. With so many variables, he says it’s important to be patient and try to plan as best you can.

To learn more about Paul’s work, visit his website and instagram.

Picture credits: Photos by Paul Rutherford


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