Team photographer Matt Aguirre shares his perspective from the sideline as he breaks down five of his favorite photos from the 2023 season.
Tre for 50
Tre Tucker is fast.
He's really fast.
That's all I remember saying after this play, along with frantically uttering, "Did I get that? Did I get that?" Obviously I did or else I wouldn't be showcasing this photo right now, but the funny part is this is the only in-focus image I got out of the sequence. In total, I shot 46 frames from this catch, and only one of those frames, the one you see above, was tack-sharp in focus. In the other 45 frames, the crowd or No. 25 on the Giants was in focus.
I think photographers in this industry would agree with me in saying that we rely a lot on luck more often than we're willing to admit. Sometimes we're just lucky to be in the right spot for that crazy catch or play, or we're just lucky that our camera decides to focus on the right thing at the right time. When things are moving as fast as Tre Tucker runs, you don't always have time to compose and focus—sometimes you just have to pray and hope for the best.
Crosby is Defense, Defense is Crosby
Hands down, the most monotonous but still necessary thing to shoot on gameday is the locker room before the players arrive. The jerseys, the helmets, the cleats—it can get a little boring week after week. But at the same time, part of being a photographer is having the ability to be create something out of nothing. I'd like to think I made full use of the opportunity with this image. Think about it: if the whiteboard was not there, this image would've been a lot less interesting. All I had to do was "look." By that, I mean I had to see the environment in a different light, which is a lot easier said than done having just finished my seventh season.
Turnover on downs
Our defense was legit this season. They played with heart and rallied under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. I think you can really see this through Marcus Epps' expression here. This shot came after the Raiders defense forced a turnover on downs on the Chargers 34-yard line. I can still hear the defense shouting in excitement as they made their way off the field for the offense to take over. In the midst of the cheers and celebration, I caught Epps winding up his arms with his back to me. Anticipating some sort of expression, I held down the shutter and was lucky enough to capture one of him mid-exclamation as he turned to face me.
Thoughts & Renfrow
I'm a very clean person. My family, friends and coworkers will attest to that. I strive to be clean in all facets of my life, and my photos are no exception. I would describe a photo as clean if there are no distractions or unnecessary elements in the image. This photo of Hunter was not clean when it first came out of the camera—it was very "dirty." There were people standing behind the bench; helmets, water bottles and clipboards next to Hunter; and trash and helmets scattered on the ground in front of him. All of this made the photo sub-par to me. It was just another standard bench photo. But with all those distracting elements removed from the picture, the mood of it changes. Now, you can feel Hunter's intensity. He's locked in mentally, and no one is snapping him out of this zone. We feel this because I removed a few seemingly unimportant objects from the photo.
This brings up an interesting side of our work as photographers that many don't consider: the post-processing. Editing styles vary drastically from photographer to photographer. Going off what I said earlier, I like my edits to be very clean. I prefer color temperatures that represent the true color in that scene and only enough contrast to allow the image to pop. One thing I tried out in my editing process this past season was using Photoshop's new AI Generative Fill feature to "clean" my photos up even more. With this tool, I can quickly remove anything that I feel doesn't contribute to the image. For comparison, it took me probably about one minute using Generative Fill to remove objects in this photo versus 10 minutes it would've taken to do it all manually.
Raiders with Attitude
After Antonio Pierce was promoted to interim head coach in October, we really embraced the N.W.A. theme creatively in our content. In preparation for the Sunday Night Football game against the Jets, our social team wanted to build off of the prior week's win graphic imitating N.W.A.'s "Greatest Hits" album cover, but this time with the "Straight Outta Compton" cover.
Since we didn't already have a photo of our players similar to that cover, they asked me to approach the defensive line before practice to see if they'd literally stand over me for a photo like the album cover. I was a little worried at first because the last thing any photographer wants to do is draw unnecessary attention to themselves, but thankfully, the D-line was more than happy to do it. Thanks to John Jenkins for helping me organize it!