FNF Coaches hosted a Photographer of the Year Contest at FNFCoaches.com during the months of April and May. More than 8,000 people voted in the contest. Will Gold received 28 percent of the vote.
As team photographer for the Manhattan High (Kan.) football team, Will Gold finds his work similar to that of a scout or assistant coach. Each game, he takes his notebook down to the field and charts each team’s scheme and coaching trends.
“I want to find out whether they consistently call running plays in certain situations,” said Gold, 48. “If they stack two out wide, are they going to pass? That helps me get in position.”
Gold found the perfect position in capturing the 2019 FNF Coaches Photo of the Year. His action photo of Manhattan tailback Kevontae McDonald breaking through the line of scrimmage between a crowd of defenders was selected among 15 finalists to earn the top prize.
As part of the grand prize, Gold has a page in the summer edition of FNF Coaches to showcase his work.
“I never studied photography in school; it was all self-study,” Gold said. “I’m a geek at heart. I’m an IT director for my day job. I started shooting football about 12 years ago, and got some good feedback. I never planned for this to become one of my jobs.”
Now, photography is a part-time job for Gold, who started Gold Image Photography. He specializes in senior portraits and has been taking action photos for the Manhattan football team for six seasons.
Gold became interested in action photography when his kids played sports in the area. His children both attended Manhattan High. His son, 29, is now a professional ballet dancer. His daughter, 21, was a competitive softball player through high school.
“I shot a lot of my daughter’s softball games in high school,” Gold said. “I came to love football too. I love the interactions. There’s something about it; every game means something at the high school level.”
How the Winning Photo Came Together
Gold offered three tips for producing a winning photo.
Gold used a Canon 7D Mark II camera body with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens. If the action is more than 50 yards from Gold, he uses a Canon EOS-1DX Full Frame with a 400mm f/2.8 L Canon Lab lens.
Photographers should bring a notebook to games and chart plays. Look for patterns, like what plays are called in specific downs and distances.
“Get in position and prepare for that one great shot,” Gold said. “Find a location that gives you the best chance for success.”
Gold is not embarrassed to admit he uses filters, Photoshop and Lightroom. Of the 1,000-plus photos he takes per game, he makes edits to 50 or 60.
“That winning photo was probably taken from farther away than it looks,” Gold said. “If I’m going to present it, I process and crop it.”