Monday, November 12, 2007
Peter Read Miller - Master Of The Gridiron
Sports Illustrated staff photographer Peter Read Miller is the consummate sports photojournalist. For years, he has been the go-to guy for catching the action on the football field.
Football is the contact sport for most Americans, and when it comes to capturing the action, Peter Read Miller is the photographer. Beginning when he was a student at the University of Southern California, Miller took his love of the game and began to frame images that would freeze decisive moments for all time.
As a Sports Illustrated staff photographer, Miller is at his busiest in the fall and winter of each year. He gets his assignments on Wednesday or Thursday, he's on a plane on Friday and shooting college on Saturday, then gets to the airport to make it in time for a pro game on Sunday and sometimes goes straight to another city for the Monday Night Football game.
Yes, it's a hectic schedule, so it's no wonder that when we sat down with Miller on a Tuesday evening, he looked happy and relaxed to be sitting with a burger at a Manhattan Beach, Calif., pub near his home.
“I end up doing a lot of travel, but it's good,” says Miller. “I love the game and I love what I do, so while it's busy, it's good.”
Before any game he works, Miller has a “punch list” from SI as to some of the shots the editors want, so he has a degree of guidance on the sidelines and he can plan where to be at different times of the game. Even with that guidance, Miller needs to know the people and places where he's shooting to be able to hit the shots on the list.
“There are little things, like knowing that Brett Favre raises his arms after every touchdown pass he throws, so to get the iconic shot of him, I want to be in position for that more than I want to be in position for the action at the goal line. Drew Brees tends to have his free hand right in front of his face mask, so I need to plan for that if I want a shot of him. It's a lot of knowing where to be based on knowing the players and their mannerisms. I do a lot of low-angle photography in the end zones, so I really have to be able to know where the action will be or I'll just miss it.”
Miller misses very few shots.
Of course, no one gets them all, and when asked if there was one photograph he knows he did miss, Miller immediately says, “The Catch. I missed it, and not only that, but I get reminded that I missed it every year.”