Our photo plans for covering the Super Bowl

By Jake Kreinberg

Our acting director of photography, Denis Paquin, shares our strategy for the big game in Houston, including how many photographers and cameras we’ll have on hand, as well as the technology we’ll be using to push images directly to customers.

Denis Paquin

Through the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl, we’ll be sending photographers to capture all of the biggest moments, which can be found either on apimages.com or in our free, revenue-generating pro football package.

To learn more about our photo plans for covering the year’s biggest game, I spoke with Denis Paquin, our acting director of photography.

How many photographers will be covering the Super Bowl?

Our plan is to have 11 photographers at the game, including 10 with assigned positions around the field and another shooting from an overhead position who can see the entire field. We’ll also have at least six remote cameras that will be set up around the stadium to capture various viewpoints.

There will be three editors on-site reviewing each of the images, and another six supporting editors — including three who are remote — helping caption and finalize each of the photos.

Finally, before anything hits the wires, all of the selections come to me and then I make the decision whether to send them directly to our customers or to apimages.com.

How much experience do these photographers have?

We have veterans who have shot dozens of Super Bowls and newcomers who haven’t been to any. But they’ve all captured football throughout the year and earned the right to be in Houston because of their outstanding coverage.

It’s a mix, which has proven to be a rewarding experience for everybody.

How quickly will images be delivered after they’re taken on the field?

Five of the photographers’ cameras will be wired via Ethernet so that as soon as images are captured, the editors will see them instantly in the workroom. The same is true for each of the remote cameras.

For the other six photographers, we’ll employ runners who transfer memory cards from each person to four ingest points around the field that feed into the editors’ computers.

That said, for most photos, it takes about two minutes to reach customers after the photos are taken. If it’s a big play, we can reduce the time to about one minute.

The longest part of the process is to write a caption and identify what’s happening in the image. The faster we can verify the information, the quicker we can deliver it to customers.

How many images do we plan to move during the game?

On average, in the last six years, we’ve transmitted between 500 and 600 photos directly to customers each Super Bowl, which include pregame features such as the national anthem, the halftime show, end-of-game festivities and the game itself.

In addition, we publish an extra 500 to 600 images each year to apimages.com that the general public can also see and license.

How do we scout locations before and during the game to station photographers and remote cameras?

That is done by a team of photographers who do this year after year. We’ll be able to set up between six and 10 static cameras in the rafters that can be fired remotely, plus a robotic camera whose angle and focus we can adjust at any time.

We’ve captured touchdowns from overhead in the past that look quite dramatic, including the go-ahead score by the Giants in 2012.

The goal of having this many cameras and people is to be able to capture a specific play or a winning touchdown from a variety of angles. And the overheads provide additional perspectives where we can’t put a photographer.

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) rushes for a touchdown during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

How have we improved the technology to deliver speed increases to customers?

We’re the only media organization to have ingest points on the field rather than running memory cards back into our workroom, which could take an extra four or five minutes from when the photos were shot. So we do have a speed advantage over and above what others do.

We also file images live directly to our customers, which gets the material out that much quicker. Over the years we’ve added more photo editors to help caption everything more efficiently.

What excites you most about directing our photo coverage of the Super Bowl?

It’s really all about storytelling and being able to tell that story from various angles throughout the game, making sure that we capture every major play and every moment that dictates and describes the game.

There are so many things that can happen on the field, which is why we make sure to have the photographers and cameras there to capture everything that takes place.

Jake Kreinberg

Jake is the text and multimedia product manager at The Associated Press and the former editor of Insights. He previously covered college sports as a reporter for AP and helped design its multi-year strategic plan. Have feedback about the blog? Contact us at insights@ap.org.