Photoblog – Shooting a soccer game with a munchkin in-tow

Updated: September 19, 2017

Sometimes, being able to go cover a game means that I can’t come alone. Sometimes, I bring a munchkin along with a camera. For those who don’t know, I’m a blogger and a photographer and a dad, among a number of other things, which means that sometimes I have to do lots of things at once. Like keep track of a 4 year-old and photograph a game. 


Sunday was one of those days, as I brought my daughter to the Cal Poly women’s soccer game along with me. 

It wasn’t the first time I’ve brought her to a game. When she was about six months old, I would dress her in warm clothes and put her in the front pack while I shot games at Baggett Stadium from the top of the dugout behind the net, ducking low to keep her tiny, slumbering self out of the line of fire. 

As she’s gotten older, it’s become more and more difficult to BOTH bring the munchkin and take photos or cover games with any kind of thorough energy. 

When we got to the game on Sunday, I had been talking-up scarves. The women’s soccer team had advertised that they were giving them away. We got there right at kickoff, and all 100 scarves had already been given away (though I was told that several students came in, got theirs, and left — weak move guys.) 

No scarf didn’t mean a total meltdown though. We stood behind the UOP goal and I got some shots of Mustangs attacking. We went and talked to one of the security team who is a student. Munchkin got a water and climbed the empty, sun-soaked bleachers behind the benches. I got a few shots.

Not a bad day for some @calpolysoccer . 0-0 at half time vs uop.

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Grass glare

I’m generally a big fan of shooting from a raised angle — Spanos offers a unique opportunity there. The more I do it though, the more I hate it. When it’s really sunny — like it was on Sunday — there’s a glare that basically bounces off the grass field. It creates weird color balancing and messes with exposure quite a bit too if you’re not careful. It’s the kind of thing that I might notice were my full attention on the task at hand. 

Kneeling on the sideline wasn’t an option when you’re keeping just one eye and half your attention on your camera, though.

About 15 minutes into the game, it was getting hot for the muchkin. So we went upstairs. Walking around in the shade and paying a quick visit to the press box, she was rejuvinated and it was time for a snack.

I should know better by now, but at halftime I found myself walking away from the snack bar with a seven pound camera/lens, a ketchup-filled hot dog, and a drink in my hands. The munchkin carried her drink, and we found a place to sit in the shade and eat. 

Senior Megan Abutin puts away a penalty kick equalizer for Cal Poly on Sunday. By Owen Main, assisted by The Munchkin

Munchkin stamina

The first ten minutes of second half is about as far as she had gone in the past. The attention span of a four year-old wanders. Somehow, I was able to string it out a little longer than usual. With a comfortable temperature in a shady part of the stadium, she found a stick and was entertaining herself until Megan Abutin put in a penalty goal for Cal Poly. 

What I learned 

Photos Category

  • My daughter’s stamina for being at games is getting better. Slowly. This makes me happy and hopeful for the next 2-4 years. 
  • I can still get some OK soccer photos, even with her there. I just have to adjust my priorities in terms of how many I’m going to end up with and whether they’re ideal.
  • Grass Glare — It’s a thing I have been aware of, but I’m really starting to see more clearly why photographers want to be closer to the ground as they shoot during the day. If there’s a photography lesson I learned, it’s that. Get close to the ground on a sun shiny day like Sunday. I’m not sure if knee pads will ever be my thing, but there is some technical reasoning behind low shots, aside from just looking cool.
  • When you’re paying attention to a four year-old, little things like “where the sun is” can be lost on you as you shoot. 

Sports Category

  • Cal Poly women’s soccer looks really resilient right now. Going down a goal, there was a little bit of unsure body language on the field, but Megan Abutin and the team stayed totally focused. Abutin is playing healthy and loose and was the key to unlocking some nice Cal Poly chances throughout the second half. The Mustang attack seemed much more connected than I saw last year. Let’s hope that keeps up.
  • Leaving early, you always risk something like this happening without me being there. 

To sum it up, if you bring a four year-old, try to enjoy the game a little and accept the fact that neither your photos nor analysis will be what they probably could be. 

And, for now, that’s just fine with me. 

Photos by Owen Main with an assist from The Munchkin. For all the photos from the game click here.