The Way I See It

Photographer

by Kelly McCommons '16 BFA

Behind the lights and sounds of any major sporting event is a team working behind the scenes to put it on. When it comes to the Big Screen/Jumbotron in arenas and stadiums, you need someone calling cameras, graphics, video and lighting cues. It takes concentration, a great team and a bit of luck. A director controls when things happen and how they happen, and that’s where I come in. 

Since January I’ve been working for the Professional Bull Riders  (PBR) as their arena video director. It’s my job to make sure everything on the arena Jumbotrons goes according to plan. With an audience upwards of 10,000 people, any mistake will be noticed by everyone in the audience. 

The PBR’s “Built Ford Tough Series” visits more than 30 cities before the season concludes with the World Finals in Las Vegas in November. So far this year, our show has been in 16 different cities around the United States, ranging from Madison Square Garden in New York City, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to the MGM Grand Village in Las Vegas. 

There’s a lot of travel involved, but the best part about traveling is that I get to work with great people, professionals in what they do, in what is hailed as Forbes’ “Fastest Growing Sport in America.” A crew of 20+ people is required to get this show travel-ready and show-ready every weekend.


Bull RiderProfessional Bull Riding is known as the toughest sport on dirt. The organization began in 1992 through the efforts of 21 professional bull riders, who gathered in a hotel room in Scottsdale, Arizona. Each contributed $1,000 to start the organization. Since then, the sport has grown to have over 1,200 cowboys, and prize money has skyrocketed, surpassing over $11 million in 2008.  Bull Riding is considered to be America’s original extreme sport.

During the season, the PBR is broadcast nationally on CBS and CBS Sports Network. 

The job can be stressful, and the hours can be long. But there’s nothing like getting a show put together, and executing it to the best we can to get the viewer closer to the action than ever before. 

Note: Kelly, an art and design—digital cinema major, was hired by PBR while still a senior at NMU. He flew out of Marquette nearly every weekend, juggling schoolwork and an on-campus job as a photographer.