What is it like shooting WSU Cougar football?

(By Sarah English/For The Independent)

Kyle Sweet slices through the Bobcat secondary. (Ed Broberg photo)

Ed Broberg studies up before WSU games…

Senior Gerard Wicks keeps a Montana State defender at bay. (Ed Broberg photo)

Ed Broberg has been a working photographer for 43 years and he still feels the buzz when he goes into a stadium. Photographing the Washington State University Cougars’ home football games for The Independent in front of 35,000 fans each week can release some butterflies, though. “I’m usually pretty excited the night before and don’t get the best sleep,” Broberg confessed.

To prepare for game day Broberg reads news reports about the game and follows coaches on social media to get a feel for what might happen. He checks the weather to know the appropriate clothing to wear and also to determine which camera bodies and lenses to bring to use under those conditions. He gets out to the field early to watch the players and their movement patterns during warm ups.

Being a sports photographer is similar to being an athlete as you are active the whole game. You are moving along the sidelines, kneeling in the end zone, and lugging heavy gear. And you never stop photographing. “Even though the play is over, there’s all those great shots after the play–the reactions of the coaches, the players, and the crowd that you want to try to capture as well,” he explained.
And it can be competitive, Broberg notes. “What I like to do is look at my peers’ work to see the product that they produced from the game and learn from them. But it’s also as if I’m competing against myself in my own photography sport: did I get that angle, did I get that shot, and yes, did I nail it better than they did,” he said.

It can also be challenging trying to manage logistics. In addition to photographing the Cougars, Broberg is also shooting the Seattle Seahawks home games this season. A Saturday evening Cougar game followed by a Sunday afternoon Seahawks game, with a commute to Seattle in between on very little sleep, can make for an exhausting weekend. It can be hard on equipment, too, with drained batteries and full photo memory cards. Overall, it’s a positive experience for Broberg. “The Seahawks are a blast to photograph because usually I’m right next to the Seahawks team photographer and now and then he gives me a hard time, asking why I’m in his spot. And my reply is always, ‘I thought you were in my spot,’” Broberg laughed.

Broberg photographed Seahawk quarterback Jim Zorn in his first pro game, Ozzie Smith when both he and Broberg were starting their careers, and did hot laps with Allan McNish in an Audi R8 after photographing him. Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant, Dario Franchitti, and Barry Bonds have also been subjects, just to name a few. When it comes to photographing well known athletes, Broberg notes, “It’s nice to see the cream of the crop talent do what they do best, but you realize that everyone’s just a person. That’s just their job,” he said.
But it is one of the perks that you get to know the team and the team gets to know you. “Coach Leach is a hoot,” Broberg said. “He is an extremely intense person at times because he has a job to get done, and a lot of people watching his end product. He’s smart, quick witted, and truly cares about his athletes,” Broberg added.

When asked to pick a favorite image from his on-field work last year, Broberg replied, “They’re all my kids so it’s hard to pick favorites.” He is pleased with his series of shots of Oregon quarterback Dakota Prukop being sacked by Cougar defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa for a safety, as well as receiver Gabe Marks’ many reactions after touchdowns, usually with his arms outstretched. His photograph of WSU mascot Butch working the crowd in the stands is displayed in Artisans at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown. “This year I would love to get an image of Coach Leach in the light that I see him in, as an overall good coach,” Broberg said.

Noting the talent of the Cougars, Broberg sees good things ahead for the team. “I haven’t been this excited to photograph a football team through the whole season as much as I am the Cougs this year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what Luke does for his final stats as a collegiate quarterback. I’d be ecstatic if he won the Heisman. I’m looking forward to seeing the new receivers stepping up and watching the SpeedD, the defense group. They very well could turn some heads.” But Broberg will still keep one eye in the camera.

Luke Falk looks to pass.