Matt Becker has a front row seat for one of the most historic franchises in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers.
The 2008 Communication graduate is a team assistant photographer for the Packers and associate photo editor for digital media at ESPN.
“Sports were a big part of my life when I was growing up, and living in Wisconsin I was a big Packers fan,” Becker said. “So having a front row seat to one of the most historic franchises in the NFL is a dream come true. There is no better feeling than seeing a big play unfold right in front of you and than capturing that moment on the camera.”
Sometimes the moments between plays offer the greatest opportunities, such as Becker’s shot capturing Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers squeezing the bicep of NFL referee, Ed Hochuli, who is famous for his bodybuilding physique (and pride in his pipes).
“I was honored when this photo was selected and displayed by the NFL Hall of Fame as an honorable mention Best Feature Shot of 2012.”
Becker tries not to get caught up in the games, he would rather have that big moment captured with his camera so it can be shared. He said his head is always on a swivel when shooting a game because his work is not done after a play is over. He looks to capture the reactions of players and coaches to those moments.
He first developed an interest in photography in high school while working for his hometown newspaper, The Rhinelander Daily News. He attended OrgSmorg, the annual Student Life event, where he met Prof. Victoria Goff, adviser to the school newspaper, The Fourth Estate. He joined the student newspaper that semester as a photographer and sports writer.
He was also a member of the Phoenix Pep Band, which meant hectic game nights. During Phoenix games he would grab his trumpet and play a song with the Pep Band, before running to the sidelines with his camera to get the game winning shot.
“My photography wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for UWGB alumnus/photographer Matt Ludtke,” Becker said. Becker first met Ludtke while shooting a Phoenix women’s basketball game. “During one of the timeouts he showed me a couple things on the camera that would make shooting sports easier. I still communicate with him today, whether it’s borrowing camera equipment, photography advice or in passing each other along the sidelines at Lambeau Field.”
One of his favorite memories is photographing the Phoenix women’s basketball team as they took on UConn during the 2007 NCAA Division I tournament in Connecticut. It was double duty again that night… utilizing a press pass to shoot the game while also playing with the pep band.
During college Becker worked internships with both the University’s Office of Marketing and Communication and the Green Bay Packers marketing department. After graduation he worked for InCompetition Sports and served as a free-lance photographer for the Green Bay Press-Gazette and The Business News. He maintained his contacts with the Packers and helped them with some event photography.
While shooting a training camp practice for the Press-Gazette, he was approached about becoming a photographer for the Packers public relations department. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. He is now an assistant team photographer.
Days of fighting off frostbite at the “frozen tundra,” are worth it, says Becker, who works home games and has also traveled to Minneapolis and Detroit this past season. He continues covering non-game day events, as well, and works during the off-season with the team’s photo archives.
Becker divides time between work with the Packers and sports network, ESPN. He edits photos for the ESPN website and their affiliates, and has created feature photo galleries for the Super Bowl, ESPN New York and NFL websites.
“Growing up, I never would have dreamed I’d have a key to Lambeau Field, let alone be able to photograph the games,” Becker said. “I still find myself smiling when I turn on to Lombardi Avenue knowing I’m going to work at Lambeau Field.”
Story by 2014 UW-Green Bay graduate Cheyenne Makinia