For the working freelance sports photographer in Florida, New Year's Day can mean only one thing: Bowl Time!
This year there are 5 major bowl games in the state including the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, the Capital One Bowl in Orlando and the Orange Bowl in Miami.
For the ambitious freelancer with connections, these games provide opportunities on several fronts. First, its a chance to start the year off on the right foot, with a decent payday on the very first day of the year, there is also the opportunity to get good play in the media if you can capture good shots from these high profile, high energy events, you also get the chance to fill your files with photos of potential future NFL superstars (the above photo shows Ohio State running back Eddie George in action at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando in January 1995), and finally you get to see some good, fun college football firsthand, from the sidelines rather than planted on your couch in front of the TV.
One of my favorite College bowl days stories comes from a photographer I know who lives nears Tampa. One year, as he tells it, he arose early New Year's Day and drove to the old Tampa Stadium to shoot the first quarter of the Hall of Fame Bowl. In a driving rain storm, the photographer jumped into his car and took off up I-4 to shoot a portion of the final quarter of Orlando's Citrus Bowl from an opening under the grandstands. Then it was back in the car, over to I-95 and north to Jacksonville where he worked that evening's Gator Bowl!
For the Florida freelancer, New Year's Eve is often a night of moderate celebration and early bedtime followed by the first working day of the New Year.