“As a photographer, you really feed off of that excitement at the arena. The buzzer goes off and you want to make sure you get that big picture.”

Athletes are no strangers to pressure. They have to perform at the top of their game, every game. Sports photographers hold themselves to the same standards.

“At the bigger events, you put the pressure on yourself; you don’t want to miss something at such an important event,” Getty Images sports photographer Ezra Shaw said. “The challenge is to capture that split second when there are so many other variables going on and try to get the best picture possible.”

As a huge sports fan, Shaw feels lucky to have the opportunity to be right in the midst of all the action.

“There’s nothing more exciting than being on the floor next to the basket at the NBA finals or any major sporting event,” he said. “Just the energy of the crowd and the players is what really excites me. As a photographer, you really feed off of that excitement at the arena.”

Take, for example, game five of the 2015 NBA finals, where the Golden State Warriors were up against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“The series was tied 2-2 so it was an important game,” Shaw said. “You can see everyone wearing yellow shirts in the background and you can just imagine how great the atmosphere was. The crowd was electrifying.”

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

Shaw’s work captures not only the athletes but also scenes like this that provide richer context and transport the viewer to the stadium.

“I try to incorporate the atmosphere and give the viewer a sense of where the sporting event is taking place, rather than just the end result of the game,” he said.

But like any sports fan, Shaw is ultimately inspired by the talent and determination of the athletes he is surrounded by.

“Watching athletes like LeBron James, who are at the height of their career, is incredible,” Shaw said. “During the first games of this series it was unbelievable where he was making baskets from with so many people guarding him. There’s so much pressure on athletes like him, but they continue to perform at such an amazing level and that is astounding to me.”

Explore Ezra Shaw’s shots from the Golden State Warriors’ historic 2015-2016 season at gettyimages.com