Puppy Bowl IX: Behind the Scenes

I don't think I have been this excited about sharing my work in a really long time.  Puppy Bowl IX is finally here and I was asked to photograph behind the scenes action for AnimalPlanet.com.  This is the sixth year I have photo edited the Puppy Bowl wesbite, and by far it has been the most intriqute.  Never have there been so many moving parts, ad sponsors, social media needs and images; it is truly impressive what the team has done and I'm proud to have even a small part of the operation.  However, I have not stopped working on Puppy Bowl since December it's been just that busy.

My executive web producer, Randi, really wanted to show what it's like at Puppy Bowl, so she sent me to New York to cover production.  The first task was getting into the city, but there was one major problem.  Hurricane Sandy had hit the New York and New Jersey coast a few days before the original shoot date in late October.  Like any television show, there are many elements and people needed to pull a production together.  Equipment and show props were located throughout the east cost, so production was delayed a couple weeks in order to make sure Manhattan had power and the puppies, kittens, hedgehogs (yes, hedgehogs), voluneteers, and crew were able to travel safely.

The shooting schedule was over two days.  Day one were kittens and hedgehogs.  Day two were puppies, and lucky us we got a visit from NBC's Nightly News' Brian Williams and his daughter, Allison, from HBO's hit show Girls.  They fell in love with one of the puppies named Pearl and what's not to love?  Adorable dog!

Now, let's see some images!  This opportunity reinvigorated my love for photojournalism and capturing those candids.

   Hedgehogs like to feel secure in places like small flannel pouches. Watch out, they can nip!

   Washington Post photojournalist, Linda Davison, joined in to capture some of the behind the scenes.  I think she got a kick out of these two days as much as I did!

   QE2, the hedgehog, and her owner get ready for their photo shoot.

   Hedgehog curls up in a pouch.

   Speedy plays on the field.

    My good friend and photographer, Keith Barraclough, was the official production photographer on set. He and I worked on the Dog Breed Selector together.

   An owner shows off her adorable hedgehog cheerleader.

   A behind the scenes cameraman captures some of the hedgehog action.

   Puppy Bowl Ref, Dan, talks to a reporter about calling the shots on the field.

   Visitors can't take their eyes off the cuteness on the field!

   Technical Producer, Greg, checks in on the Control Room.

   All kittens get check ups by Dr. Nancy Ashley before starring in the halftime show.

   Production Assistant, Andrea, gives a shoulder ride to one of the star kittens.

   The kittens loved all the attention!

   Kitten plays in her pen before her performance.

     Sprinkling the set with a little catnip entices the kittens to play.

    Animal Planet Web Producer, Betty, makes friends with a kitten.


   Let loose the kitten's confetti!

   Señor Crabby survives another year at the Kitten Halftime Show.

   Cat nap doesn't even begin to describe how tuckered out this kitten was after play time

   Puppy Bowl Ref awaits his call to the field.

   Oh, puppy love!

   Volunteers and puppy owners spent time in the Green Room getting to know each other.

   One thing Koda loved was to be held and snuggled.

   Rest up, pups. It's almost show time!

   People could not keep their hands off the pups.

   Terrance hangs out.

   Rusty gives out some kisses to a volunteer.

   The incomparable Peanut!

   A parade of pups! Volunteers bring in the first round of puppies to begin filming on set.

   Animal Planet Social Media Manager, Grace, gets snuggly with Sacha.

   Coordinating Producer, Jessi, gets Althea ready for her entrance onto the field.

   While waiting for her grand entrance, Daphne takes a little nap in the arms of a volunteer.

   A bird's-eye view of action on the field.

   Some of the Animal Planet team.  GO TEAM CUTE!

   Ref Dan taping some "TOUCHDOWN!" close-ups for the show.

   Nona awaiting her grand Puppy Bowl debut.

   Cash relaxes on a lap before getting his portrait taken.

   Puppy wrangler, Victoria, gets the puppies to pose for the camera.

   It takes many people on set to pull a production like Puppy Bowl together. These are just a handful of pros on set.

   Stay awake Unity, stay awake!

   Ref Dan enjoys all the puppy play!

   Assembling the hot tub.

   The pups are inquisitive about getting in the warm water.  Gettin' hot in the hot tub!

   Simba pops over the barrier to say hi to the cameraman.

   Blitz stays focused on the ball while the camera man gets a close-up.

   The snuggles never stop at Puppy Bowl!

   After a long day Rose is just about calls it quits.

   Chestnut and Pearl are wiped out!

   Brian Williams, daughter Allison, and Pearl spend some time together.

   The Williams' fell for Pearl.

     Brian Williams and Pearl, interview Puppy Bowl's Executive Producer for the NBC Nightly News.

   Pearl tries to get in on the interview.

   Adorable puppy kisses.

   Pearl really stole Brian's heart.
  Brian Williams and Animal Planet's Executive Producer, Melissa Toporoff, hold Blondie and Ivy while posing for pictures.

    Pearl poses for, well, everyone!

    Brian getting some cell phone photos of his daughter, Allison, and Puppy Bowl star, Pearl.

   One last ear scratch for Pearl.

    Pearl gets a kiss and a hug from Brian and Allison Williams.