Behind the scenes at the NFL with Ben Liebenberg
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Behind the scenes at the NFL with Ben Liebenberg

NFL Senior Photo Editor and Lead Photographer Ben Liebenberg and Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman ©Ric Tapia/NFL

You may see Ben Liebenberg running down the field trying to out pace the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman after a game to grab a shot (above photo) or photo bombing the annual NFL draft ceremony from backstage. As Senior Photo Editor and lead photographer for the NFL, Liebenberg’s responsibilities range from coordinating all aspects of the photo department, curating images for the NFL Network and NFL.com, as well as photographing games, events and capturing portraits of players throughout the year.

What started as a hobby in high school evolved into a degree in photojournalism once Liebenberg realized he could turn his interest in photography into a career. While in college, Liebenberg worked as an assistant to Sports Illustrator photographers. 'SI didn’t have staffers in the Bay Area,' Liebenberg explains, 'so they would fly people in and I did a lot of assisting for them. That’s where my sports background came from.'

After graduating college, Liebenberg interned for a number of small newspapers, but in the early 2000’s nobody was hiring. By chance, he made some connections in the music world and began traveling internationally and in the U.S. to photograph various artists and tours. In 2005, he began working at Wire Image, handling the NFL archives, and continued there for several years until Getty—which had its own sports department—purchased Wire Image.

As Liebenberg was winding down his time a Wire Image, the NFL called him about working for the new NFL.com. He interviewed and got the job the same day in 2007. Almost ten years later, the NFL.com’s team has grown from a handful of people to a staff of hundreds in Los Angles, with additional offices in New York and, for NFL films, New Jersey.

For a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes preparing for and shooting the Super Bowl, as well as what keeps Liebenberg busy shooting and planning between games, read on.