Photographs By Dan Szpakowski
The Stories Behind the Top 10 Photos of 2019
By Dan Szpakowski Jan 30, 2020
Photographs By Dan Szpakowski

Le'Veon Bell was the center of attention in his heavily anticipated return to football after sitting out the 2018 season. Bell and the Jets hosted their division rival, the Buffalo Bills, in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium. I love this angle of Bell's first touchdown in green and white because the crowd's reaction is palpable.

I've been shooting NFL games since 2012 and this season's five rainy games were the most in my career. I've always wanted to create an image like this, especially with a division rival. This image made during the season finale in Buffalo captures the raw strength and willpower that takes place every snap in the trenches.

Jamal Adams is the most energetic and passionate Jet that I've covered in my four seasons with the team. The combination of rain, Adams' frustration and the compression shooting with a 600mm lens combine for a powerful image.

Developing trust with the players is one of my favorite things about being embedded full-time with a team. This image speaks to that. Vyncint Smith didn't budge when I crept within 12 inches of his face to shoot this portrait. I love how raw Smith's emotion is. There's no significant context to it not was it a big moment in the game to mention. It's just a tight portrait of an undrafted free agent trying to earn his keep in the NFL.

There is so much emotion to capture as players walk out of the locker room before kickoff. In this instance, I decided to highlight the colors and surroundings instead of a facial expression. I really like this image of Sam Darnold leaving the locker room to take the field against the Cowboys in his return from a four-week absence due to a bout with mono. The clean all-white uniforms contrast so well with the heavy green ambient light.

Football is the ultimate team game and I'm constantly looking for ways to convey that in a single image. I think this photo of the pregame prayer in Week 5 in Philadelphia exemplifies that.

The Jets had just lost their second straight game to open the season against the Browns. They played this prime-time contest without QB Sam Darnold, who was diagnosed with mono days before, and All-Pro LB C.J. Mosley, one of the team's prized offseason acquisitions, who sustained a groin injury against the Bills. Here Mosley is walking off the field with RB Le'Veon Bell, a former AFC North rival turned teammate in New York. Mosley's leadership was on display despite not being able to suit up.

This is the image I've wanted at MetLife Stadium since I started shooting there over seven years ago. I laid on my stomach for the low angle of the snap and hoped someone would get to the quarterback with the MetLife logo symmetrically placed over the top of the image. Thank you Jordan Jenkins for helping me out with this one.

The Jets debuted their Stealth Black uniform in Week 2 on Monday Night Football against the Browns and I wanted to find a unique way to create an image. I used a star filter on the front of my lens to capture this image of Marcus Maye crouched in the defensive backs huddle on the field right before kickoff. I really like the way this photo turned out with the stars aligned with his eyes.

I refer to Robby Anderson as "The King of Contested Catches" and this photo is a good example why. Here he's going up and over two Steelers to haul in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold to put the Jets up 7-0 in the first quarter.

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