As the National Football League season sweeps in, sports photographers across the United States take to the stadiums to create iconic images of a national pastime for use in publications all over the world. In a Q&A below, Seattle, Washington-based, veteran sports photographer Otto Greule (represented by Getty Images) shares insider knowledge and outstanding imagery to give DPReview readers some insight into his fast-paced, visual craft.

Wide receiver Golden Tate #81 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch in the end zone to defeat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 at CenturyLink Field on September 24, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Hello, Otto. Tell us a little about you and your background.

I started photographing at age 16 for my high school yearbook. There was me and another student who knew we wanted to be photographers, there was nothing else to it. We lived in the darkroom. By the time we graduated, we had studied with Mary Ellen Mark and Paul Fusco at a workshop in Chico, California. I worked my way up in the newspaper business with a knack for shooting sports. I started doing freelance work outside of the newspaper world, as there were a lot of clients in those days doling out assignments. I also began contributing to a small agency in San Diego called Focus West, which was later acquired by the esteemed European photo agency, Allsport, which was in turn acquired by Getty Images.

What was your introduction to sports photography?

My first assignment (post high school) was to photograph the Friday night stock car races for the Petaluma Argus-Courier. The cars ran on a dirt oval track. The sports editor suggested that I could get a good picture by shooting from a spot near the turn. I got in position, and as the cars sped through the first turn, I was pelted with a barrage of dirt clods! Welcome to sports photography.

Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma #18 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by teammates after throwing a no-hitter to defeat the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 at Safeco Field on August 12, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

How has the climate and business of sports photography changed over your career? 

When I think of the change I’ve seen since I started in the early 1980’s, I envision a giant comet slamming into the Pacific Ocean and hurtling every sloop asunder. I guess you could call that a sea change? But seriously, the changes brought about with the invention of the digital image, the diminished prevalence of the photographic print, coupled with the internet and our myriad viewing devices probably hold ramifications for still photography that we cannot even begin to fathom. I think of the digital revolution as analogous to the invention of the automobile, and the unforeseen consequences that came with it; that of climate change, traffic deaths, war for oil, assembly lines turning auto workers into human robots until they were ultimately replaced by real robots, etc.

I think that there will be unforeseen costs as to how we value, and relate to the still photographic image. I think it’s precarious to detach the still photograph from its 'objectness,' i.e. barter away the printed image in exchange for the electronic image, which is not a tangible object, and exists only on a screen. If the still photograph is relegated to a domain that is incessantly swiped away to play 'Fruit Ninja,' that devalues and does a disservice to the esteem of the medium.

Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after making an interception in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 15, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 29-3. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

What’s the biggest challenge for sports photographers in 2015? 

Contending with the growing trend of television screen grabs being used in lieu of the still photograph.

How do you stay relevant, and what keeps your work at the forefront? 

Shooting a sporting event is kind of like making a portrait of a person. A good portrait photographer will catch that fleeting glimpse which expresses the character of the subject. Likewise in photographing sport, there are fleeting moments that distill not only the story of the game, but perhaps the overall arc of the team, or of a particular player chasing a record, or some other dynamic. Staying relevant means conveying that pertinent narrative, not just making eye-candy peak [sports] action photos. Doing so certainly requires quick reactions, but reaction is aided by anticipation, and anticipation is founded on doing your homework.

Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies celebrates with free safety Nate Williams #8 after defeating the USC Trojans 16-13 on September 19, 2009 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

How did you originally start get involved with shooting for Getty Images? 

I was on contract with Allsport at the time they were acquired by Getty.

What kind of photographic gear are you issued from Getty? 

Since I’m not on staff with Getty, I supply all of my own gear.

Otto Greule's camera case, consisting of Canon 400mm F2.8, 70-200 F2.8, 100mm F2.0, Canon 1D X, Canon 1D Mark IV. Rain smock, Gitzo carbon fiber monopod, gaffer tape, flash unit. Lexar flash cards. The Nikon F-2 Body was one of Otto's first cameras; it is no longer functional.

What’s a piece of your kit that is unique to you?

I made an extension hood for my long lens (400mm F2.8) out of a 'Beware of Dog' sign that I trimmed to size and covered in black gaffer tape. The material is durable and flexible. If needed, I will tape it onto the hood of the lens to help minimize flare during football season when the declination of the sun is low and I want to shoot backlit, else, it’s flare city. It also helps keep the front lens element dry on rainy days.

View of Otto Greule's computer station for sports photography. Consisting of 11-inch MacBook Air, 1 TB LaCie external drive, Hoodman USB 3 Flash Card reader, Verizon Jetpack MIFI cellular hotspot (for image transfer when there's no WiFi), Powerocks Super Magicstick USB battery (for MIFI hotspot). Note there is a piece of cut PVC pipe attached to the card reader to help protect the connection. On screen program is Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits, Inc.

What are some photographic kit essentials (outside of photographic gear), and why? 

Small screwdriver to tighten lens/body mounts, which will degrade sharpness if they become loose. Ear plugs, needed for field level sound system speakers. I always keep a rain smock handy, my equipment is more likely to get doused by the grounds crew watering down the field than by the rain.

Otto Greule's equipment including: ThinkTank Logistics Manager camera case, Canon 400mm F2.8 L IS, 70-200 F2.8 L IS II, 100mm F2.0, 20mm F2.8 L IS, 24-105mm F4 L IS, Canon 1D X, Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 5D Mark III, Gitzo carbon fiber monopod, Black Rapid shoulder strap, gaffer tape, plastic stretch film, pliers, hand warmers. Lexar flash cards.

What is your personal, 'off work' camera, and why?

My Holga. I love the absolute simplicity of it. It boils the photographic process down to the paramount decisions that are not unique to photography; what subject are you choosing and why do you care about it? What viewpoint are you choosing? How are you delimiting the scene? Exactly what moment in time are you depicting? These are the same fundamental choices that you would have to make if you were a painter. There is also a hidden benefit of using a toy camera; you can work on the street relatively uninterrupted because you do not appear to be 'professional.' If for example, you are photographing near a monument or archeological site, the security people (tripod police) will tend to leave you alone, and photo-gear enthusiasts who want to talk shop will just sneer and move on, leaving you free to concentrate on making a photograph.

November 1987: San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana talks with head coach Bill Walsh, as backup quarterback Steve Young listens, during the 49ers game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Otto Greule/ALLSPORT)

What are a couple of general 'rules of thumb' that you follow when photographing sports? 

1: Expect that equipment will fail, and have a backup ready to go. 2: Keep a camera with a wide lens around your neck. If you’re shooting the event with only a long lens, the best picture is certain to happen right in front of you. Ouch.

Quarterback Matt McGloin #14 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked in the end zone by defensive end Frank Clark #55 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 3, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks recovered the fumble on the play resulting in a touchdown. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

What is your schedule when covering a Seattle Seahawks football game? 

I arrive at the stadium three hours before kickoff. That allows time to put the gear together, deal with the inevitable surprises and shoot pregame warm-ups. If I'm doing a solo edit, I finish transmitting about an hour after the game.

What are the biggest events you’ve had the pleasure of photographing over the course of your career? 

Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and a few World Series.

What is one of your favorite sports shooting memories? 

Felix Hernandez’s perfect game. When your favorite athlete accomplishes the impossible, and you are there to document it, I’d say that’s a pretty good day.

Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 (R) of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after throwing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field on August 15, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Any horror stories that stand out? 

Seeing center field rippling like waves on the ocean during the Loma Prieta earthquake at the 1989 World Series was rather surreal. A few days later, I had an (uninsured) 500mm lens stolen during a press conference for Major League Baseball. Well there goes $5,000! However, since I made it through the week alive, I considered myself lucky.

Advice for those either looking to get started on shooting sports and/or taking work to the next level? 

The best way to learn is to learn from the best; take Peter Read Miller's sports photography workshop. And check out; there is lots of good info there.

Running Back Shaun Alexander #37 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with fans after the Seahawks' 28-13 victory against the Indianapolis Colts at Qwest Field on December 24, 2005 in Seattle, Washington. Alexander scored three touchdowns in the game, tying the NFL record for touchdowns in a season, with 27. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Where can someone go, or what is something that someone can shoot, to practice their sports shooting skills without the great access you have? 

Pay a visit to the local youth sports leagues. You can usually gain 'sideline' access pretty informally, just check in with a parent and let them know what you're doing.

Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Seattle Mariners waves to the crowd after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field April 15, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. All Major League Baseball players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson day. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Before you go, tell us a little about your architectural photography – which, in many ways, is almost a complete 180 from your fast-paced sports work for Getty Images. 

Photographing architecture may seem diametrically opposed to photographing sports, and in some ways it is. However, in the art of navigation a compass needle does not actually 'point to north,' even though we refer to it as the 'pointer needle.' The magnetized needle is simply becoming aligned with a magnetic field. Whether 'pointing' north or south, the alignment of the needle is the same. Similarly, both architectural and sports photography are dependent on the viewpoint of the camera in relation to the subject, and on timing. The difference is in the timetable over which these choices evolve. One might occur over hours or even days, the other over split seconds. But in each case the underlying method is very similar, they are each founded on an acute process of observation, which to me is the essence of photography. I was once shooting a building exterior downtown during the fleeting minutes of morning twilight. The security escort asked why I was in such a hurry since 'the building wasn’t going anywhere.' I said 'the building isn’t, but the light is!' 

Thanks, Otto!

Self portrait, Otto Greule.