Drew Hallowell started with the Eagles as an assistant photographer in 1996 and aided in the team’s transition to digital photography which was completed in 2003. In the last 10 years, Hallowell has been honored three times by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here is his first-hand account of this
The initial reaction to the eight inches of snow was that it was going to make the perfect backdrop for the photos. I’ve never taken game action photos in snow that was so heavy or deep. In fact, Ed Mahan, the longtime team photographer, said he had never seen that much snow at a football game.
The challenge with taking photos in the snow is that 99 percent of the photographers use autofocus. Snow interferes with the camera because it doesn’t know where to focus. There are photos of extreme close-ups of snowflakes, because that’s what the camera chose to be in focus.
It was so difficult to obtain on-field shots early in the game when the snow was coming down the hardest. Instead, I headed upstairs in the southwest corner of the stadium to get wide-angle photos of the entire field while trying to get some game action from that perspective. The amount of snow falling made it difficult to even change the lens because I didn’t want to get any snow inside the camera and damage it. For every 20 pictures shot from upstairs, only a couple were in focus.
After going back down on the field, the snow was piled up along the sidelines and it was nearly a foot deep in some spots. Typically, I carry an extra camera around my neck that I don’t have to pay attention to until I need it. However, I noticed at one point the camera was packed with snow, the front lens hood looked like a snowball.
Halftime was extremely important because it provided an opportunity to change lenses and adjust the focus settings on the camera. On a normal day, the focus settings wouldn’t have to be altered. The weather had changed and there wasn’t as much snow falling. In addition, the action picked up on the field. It seemed like a big play happened every time the Eagles got the ball in the second half.
The photo above was from McCoy’s first touchdown. The offensive line made a huge hole for McCoy, who exploded like a rocket out of the backfield. I was so focused on keeping McCoy in frame that I didn’t realize he hurdled the defender until I went back to look at the photos.
I knew the game would be memorable because of the weather, but no one expected McCoy’s historic performance. It was obvious that McCoy was piling up a ton of rushing yards, but on the field it’s tough to keep track of records until there is some sort of announcement. The combination of a historic performance, inclement weather and an important victory with a signature photo made for an epic day.