Denmark’s Mikel Poe Rasmussen has set the standard for football photography

international american football.

when you read about it mermaid pot XXXIII, Take the extra time to check the photo card. More often than not, it will be the first photography.

In this interview, Rasmussen gave us great insight into what goes into a sports photographer’s job.

The Copenhagen Towers run by Anton Whitmore (28) runs football during Mermaid Bowl XXXII (2021-10-09). Vejle Atletikstadion, Vejle, Denmark, October 9, 2021. Photo by Mikkel Bo Rasmussen / 1st Down Photo (@1stdownphoto)

AFI: How did you get into photography?

MBR: When I was a kid I was always the one to take pictures on family trips. I wasn’t thinking much about photography at the time, but I must have had it inside me for a long time. However, it was in 2005 when I moved to Germany to work for an airline that I found myself with money and time on my hands looking for a creative hobby to supplement the high-tech things I was doing at work. A former colleague of mine bought a digital SLR camera for a trip to Central America around the same time. It inspired me and decided to buy me a camera and start shooting.

AFI: Is photography your full-time job?

MBR: No, I work full time as a trainer and consultant for a Danish company making hearing aids. But sometimes I feel like I have two full-time jobs when I go out to shoot on Saturdays and Sundays and edit photos during week J.

Photo: Fabian Rasmussen /

AFI: What drew you to American football?

MBR: I went to a small community college in Nebraska, USA in 1992 and my host family was made up of Denver Broncos fans. So, I got to know the sport quite a bit there, although at that time I was interested in basketball and found it very difficult to understand the rules of football. In 1999, Atlanta Falcons football player, teammate Dane, and now HoF’er, Morten Andersen made an FG game win against the Minnesota Vikings in overtime in the NFC Championship Game. Dane’s presence in the Super Bowl for the first time led to a Danish television channel broadcasting NFL matches weekly from the 1999 season onwards. It coincided with “The Greatest Show on Turf” (1999-2001 St. Louis Rams) that caught the eye in the NFL and from that moment I was completely sold out in the sport (and on the rams). I loved the shine, the hits, the shifts in momentum, and the fact that any team can come back and win within the last two minutes of a game. The games were exciting to the end. And I still love that day.

AFI: When did you start shooting AF games?

MBR: I photographed two matches before 2015, but wasn’t serious about photographing football until 2015. I started posting photos under 1Street bottom photo The brand has received a lot of positive feedback. I began studying the techniques of famous American football photographers from Sports Illustrated, upgraded my equipment as the season progressed, and experimented with filming locations across the field. It has been a journey ever since, constantly learning and constantly trying new things. The search for the “perfect picture” never ends.

Netherlands WR team Ashneil Wehlerman (19) gets a touchdown pass from Netherlands QB Team Tom van Duin (4) during EC Denmark Team Qualifier against Team Netherlands at Gentofte Stadion, Denmark, (10-19-2019). (Photo: Mikkel Boe Rasmussen/first bottom photo).

AFI: What kind of approach do you take when shooting AF games?

MBR: This is my eighth year of shooting football and things have changed quite a bit since I started. In the beginning, all I was focused on was to follow the ball because it would definitely lead to a good job. But this does not necessarily lead to good take photo. I was obsessed with capturing every drop. They’ve changed over the years, so now I’m more than willing to sacrifice some point captures to get better pictures of my players. A line operator was kept trapped while QB fires a bomb into a wide open receiving field. I might follow safe roaming into the deep zone instead of following the ball carrier. But in general, I look for the height of movement, crisis and emotion. That’s what football is all about for me.

I try to prepare for each game by looking at the game menu and looking at previous games for key players to monitor and judge what kind of attack the teams have. Running backwards may be too much of an obstacle, safety may be good for a ready meal or two per game, or an O-lineman may be a pie machine. I want to make sure I stay a little on those guys that improve my chances of getting a good picture of good movement. I usually focus on getting good shots of QBs and RBs during the first quarter, spend the second and third quarters trying to get good shots of players or other key positions, and then follow the action as the game peaks in the fourth quarter. I also try to get shots of the reactions and shots of the fans inside as well.

AFI: What does a typical game day look like to you?

MBR: Most of the games are either in my hometown or an hour’s drive away. I like to arrive no later than an hour and a half before kick-off given the conditions and light, greet the crew in charge (who I also make sure to take pictures of before and during the match), and shoot the team’s practice. I need a mental warm-up as well, and I use this moment especially to synchronize with the timing of my midfielders’ throws.

After a match, I usually walk around a bit to chat with the other players, coaches, and photographers. Being in it for eight years means I know a lot of people involved in the games on and off the field. When I get home, I pack the gear, recharge the batteries for the next game, and copy the photos to the computer. I try to post my photos online within a day or two after the match. Not being paid for what I’m doing means I don’t have to stress it out, but I do like to get the images out while the games come into people’s minds.

RB Leipzig fans demand a penalty kick against Hamburg Sea Devils during the third quarter of FC Leipzig Kings’ match against Hamburg Sea Devils at Alfred Kunze-Sportpark, Leipzig, Germany, July 18, 2021 (Photo by Mikkel Bo Rasmussen/1 Down Photo)

AFI: Photography has taken you on travel. What other countries have you visited to shoot games?

MBR: I have filmed matches in Sweden (FIFA Championship Match and FIFA U19 Championship), USA (Bowl IX International), Germany (German Bowl 2019 in Frankfurt, ELF matches in Hamburg and Leipzig, as well as The inaugural ELF Championship in Dusseldorf). The UK is on my wish list as I hope to get an NFL game there. I would also like to go back to the US to shoot a college game.

AFI: Tell us about two of your most memorable experiences shooting games.

MBR: The first memory that comes to mind is my first Danish-American football game, the Mermaid Bowl, in 2015. I was hoping to be considered good enough to get credited, so I was moved when Davf told me he allowed me side access. It was my first time shooting a game on a real court (most games are played on grass fields in local schools). Everything was new and impressive, and I was completely immersed in it.

In 2018, I traveled to Dallas, Texas, to stay with a Nordic team participating in the International Bowl IX games. “Team Nordic” was supposed to play an American under-19 team. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at practices, meetings and current events was interesting. The actual game, filmed at the Dallas Cowboys AT&T stadium, was a bit disappointing as the US team beat the Nordic team in big time, and shooting on an empty stadium turned out to be a very strange experience. But I learned a lot during that trip and met so many wonderful people.

Close to home was one of the most memorable experiences when my local team, Frederiksund Oaks, played a qualifying match to advance to the top league in Denmark in 2017. Not many people in the Danish football community expected the Oaks to come out front but backed by a lengthy fanfield Wearing green, the Oaks won 21-0 and moved to the DAFF National League in 2018.

Being an outdoor sport, weather is often a factor in soccer games. The 2017 U19 Championship match was played in Denmark and there was an actual cloudburst going on during the second half leaving parts of the field more or less underwater. Passing the soccer ball was nearly impossible, and even running the soccer ball was tricky with water spraying knee high at every step. I ended up sitting in the bleachers under the roof most of the second half to protect my gear from drowning.

In 2019, I was fortunate enough to shoot two caps when Helsinki Roosters visited the Copenhagen Towers and Badalona Drake came from Spain to play the Triangle Razorbacks in Denmark. Both games were very entertaining and Roosters – Towers ended up being wired. One of my pictures of Dracs – Razorbacks ended up on the cover of the 2020 IAFOA Guide for Football Officers.

I hope to build on those memories by getting a chance to film an NFL game at some point. Either in Germany, the UK or the US. Stay tuned!

Other Random Facts

  • On average, I take about 2,500 photos per game.
  • I’ve filmed just over 200 games including brawls and youth encounters.
  • Most points in a match you’ve shot: 128 points at AaB 89 at Søllerød Gold Diggers, 05-04-2019.

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