Buffalo News photographer James P. McCoy looks back at the unique challenges of shooting during the Bills' snow game against the Indianapolis Colts.
I have been shooting Bills games since 1982, and I have shot in every kind of weather possible, from the heat to lightning to rain and snow.
Photographers game-plan for a Bills game just like the coaches do. I was totally prepared for anything Mother Nature had to offer, because I have learned over the years to buy the best possible weather gear available. Still, I had no idea that this would be a historic game.
I arrived at the game at 8:30 a.m. and you could see the giant snow clouds coming. By 11 a.m., the snow started. I was amazed at how much snow was falling. After shooting the teams warming up, I went back into the photo room, just off the tunnel of the stadium, and told the other photographers that we were about to get destroyed with snow.
The start of the game was crazy. Every photographer was asking each other the same question. “Can you focus? What settings are you using?” It was impossible to see, let alone focus.
The snow was blowing into the front element of the camera for those shooting on the Bills' side of the field. The photographers on the Colts' side had snow blowing into their viewfinders.
I held my breath while looking through the lens. The steam from my breath fogged the viewfinders and made it even more difficult to see. The snow was coming down sideways and gathering in the lens hood. I was constantly wiping it dry.
Despite the conditions, I was having a blast. I joked with the CBS sideline reporter, “And my wife wants to move to Florida.”
I sprinted to the photo room and processed my first-quarter images as soon as the quarter ended. I was blown away that I was able to capture so many images. I would have bet the mortgage the images would be soft or out of focus.
The grounds crew shoveled all the snow from the field to where we should have been kneeling, so it felt like we were standing in a foot of snow at times. Photographers are required to kneel at Bills games behind a yellow line about 3 feet feet away from the field. We could not see the line or the field by the third quarter. By the fourth quarter, we were standing almost on the field because we couldn’t see where the end lines were. I shot LeSean McCoy’s game-winning touchdown while standing in the end zone.
I went into the stands and shot a snowman that fans made in the seats. They were having a blast. Buffalo fans are just pure crazy. They never gave into the elements and did what we all did: made the best of it.
I made amazing images that Sunday from snow-covered action to players doing snow angels on the field and fans covered in snow.
Honestly, I didn’t want the game to end because I was having so much fun.
But when my work was done, the hard part came. My car was buried in snow when I got back to the parking lot.