Hunter Martin has been photographing Philadelphia-area sporting events since 1987 including the Philadelphia Eagles.
It was the final game of the 2007 season against the Bills. Donovan McNabb was jogging off the field after the Eagles scored a touchdown. He just caught somebody’s eye and started smiling. The Eagles scored after McNabb completed a deep pass that was fumbled but recovered in the end zone. I don’t know if that’s what was making him smile, but I stayed on him because it was just a unique touchdown.
First and foremost, Donovan’s smile stands out. Then, the photo was framed in a clean background. It was tight. I didn’t do any cropping on that. It was a nice full-frame shot, he filled the frame and it was a clean background, but he had this big smile on his face. It was just a nice, natural smile, Donovan truly being happy with what happened.
In that moment, you have to get a little bit lucky because even though I had my camera on him and I was tracking him, some player could have ran in front of my lens at the exact moment of that smile. Sometimes, you’re just at the mercy of luck or happenstance or good fortune to make an image that works like that. I would say for every image that works like that, there’s a hundred that didn’t work.
This photo adorned the cover of the 2008 NFL Preview issue of Sports Illustrated. It was my first Sports Illustrated cover and I was totally excited. I was very happy. I do like the photo so I’m glad it was viewed by a lot of people.
It was special to not only be a photographer, but a team photographer for a player who you literally photographed his first game and his last game with the team. To be able to have images from his entire career is really incredible. I got to shoot the late, great Reggie White, but I only photographed him for a couple years before he went to the Packers. That’s definitely special to have a complete player’s career as an Eagle and to see his development. It’s exciting to photograph because he’s won a lot of games and is one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise.