Photographer caught up in sideline fight at Tech loses $6,000+ camera

Georgia wide reciever George Pickens is pushed out of bounds by Georgia Tech defensive back Tre Swilling defending on a pass from Jake Fromm during the third quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 30, 2019, in Atlanta. 

ATLANTA — The fight between Georgia's George Pickens and Georgia Tech's Tre Swilling is going to cost one man about $6,000.

That's the estimated cost of repair and/or replacement of the camera equipment belonging to freelance photographer Perry McIntyre Jr. McIntyre was shooting last Saturday's game when he found himself caught in the middle of a players' fight on the southeast sideline at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The melee — specifically, Swilling's elbow — snapped McIntyre's lens and broke his Nikon D500 camera in half.

[GoFundMe: Tech Wrecked My Camera Gear]

"There's nowhere to go over there," said McIntyre, a retired teacher who has been shooting Georgia football games for 40 years. "It's really tight. I didn't even realize what was going on at first because I was shooting the touchdown and celebration 50 yards across the field in the other side of the end zone. Next thing I know, they're flying into me and my camera goes flying out of my hands."

Now McIntyre has a real problem. That was his primary camera and his primary lens. In addition to shooting Georgia football game, the St. Simons resident also does family portraits and wildlife photography. In his words, "they are my livelihood."

Both are now at a camera shop being assessed for damage and whether they can be repaired. New, the set is worth about $7,200. Either way, McIntyre knows a big bill is coming his way.

McIntyre said his homeowner's insurance does not cover photography equipment. He considered approaching Georgia Tech about assisting in the repairs and has talked to UGA about it. In the meantime, he started a GoFundMe page playfully labeled "Tech Wrecked My Camera Gear" hoping to get some assistance from fellow photographers and perhaps a sympathetic public. As of late Monday morning, $850 has been raised toward a $7,500 goal.

"Here's the thing: As a photographer, you assume some risks when you're shooting a game, but you don't expect to get hit when the action is 50 yards across the field," McIntyre said. "There's shared culpability here because Pickens was swinging at Swilling and it was his elbow that caught my camera. So, it was both players' fault. But it shouldn't have happened."

Pickens, a freshman wide receiver, was flagged for fighting ejected from the game because of the fight and will have to sit out the first half of Georgia's SEC Championship game against LSU on Saturday. McIntyre thought it was odd that Swilling was not also penalized because, from his standpoint at least, Swilling was engaged as well.

McIntyre said he was unable to finish the game due to his smashed equipment. He's hoping to shoot the SEC Championship game this week with borrowed gear that has been offered by fellow photographers. But eventually his will have to be replaced or repaired.

Interestingly, in 40 years of shooting Georgia football, this is the first time McIntyre ever has been struck in a football game. He is friends with Chamberlain Smith, the UGA student who was run over and injured in the Auburn game on Nov. 16. He said the closest he came previously was in 1981, when Lindsay Scott came flying out of bounds in a game at Vanderbilt.

"But I knew Lindsay and he kind of caught me and carried me," McIntyre said with a chuckle. "In the Missouri game this year, Jake (Fromm) overthrew Kearis Jackson and the ball just missed me. But I've been doing this a long time and I have pretty good field awareness."

McIntyre is well known for his Georgia football photos. He is thought to be the only photographer to have shot every one of Herschel Walker's games at Georgia. He also captured what's thought to be the best images of Terry Godwin's one-handed touchdown catch at Notre Dame in 2017.

"I might've gotten my 15 minutes of fame out of this," McIntyre said, "but really, all I want is my equipment back."