7 Essential Tips for Anyone Pursuing a Career in Sports Photography

career in sports photographyThere are different types of photography, each requiring a different mastery of technique, skills and equipment.

For example, taking photos of products, or photos of animals, requires a much different approach as compared to being a photographer at live action sports events.

7 Essential Tips for Anyone Pursuing a Career in Sports Photography #sportsbiz Click To Tweet

If you have a passion for sports and photography there could be no better existence than to be on the field in the heat of the action, capturing the moments the world waits to see up close. Sports photography is an important part of enhancing each and every sports story, giving presence and gravity to the moments of action, passion, heartbreak and triumph.

If you want to be successful in sports photography, follow these tips and guidelines – you can be well on your way toward mastery of your craft.

Learn The Intricacies of the Sport

Sports photography is mostly about capturing the right moment, where the action is at its peak. It allows observers to see what a tense moment in the game looked like, something that a broadcast camera stationed further away can’t really capture.

In order to do this, you will have to anticipate the right moment when to take a photo, or knowing when things will heat up. This is why you need to be invested in sports and know how the flow of game usually works.

If you are a sports fan, you should have no trouble anticipating this; however, to be a professional sports photographer, you will need to be present at numerous events for different sports. If you know football well, make it your goal to learn other sports like Lacrosse and Rugby just as well. The day will come when it is your assignment, and you’ll need to be fully confident in what you are seeing.

Moreover, make sure you research the players, who is left handed or right handed, left footed or right footed, etc. These facts will help you take some of the most amazing shots of players who are at their best.

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Your Shots Should Tell a Story

In addition to documenting the best action shots, you need to have photos that capture a great moment, or that tell a story. An image of a concerned coach or the eyes of a player filled with uncertainty.

You can also document how some of the players are adored by the crowd up close, it doesn’t have to be a shot in the game in order to be the most important moment to capture.

Facial expressions tell a great deal of the story, focus on capturing those moments and emotions. This will be possible, but you need complete focus, and, as they say colloquially, stop chimping.

Chimping is looking at each photo after the shot is taken. You should take numerous shots and sort them out after the game, looking at the camera constantly will only result in you losing a good moment.

There is no point in chimping because if you failed to capture what you wanted, there is no do over.

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Use High ISO

Let’s focus on some of the more technical pieces of the advice.

In order to take quality action photos, you should shoot at higher shutter speeds, because you can increase the chances of taking a perfect shoot. Professional sports photographers use a shutter speed that is approximately 1/1000 of a second to stop motion.

In other words, you will need suitable equipment, primarily a camera that can allow you to take photos at such a high shutter speeds.how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

Use Long Glass

In addition to high shutter speeds, you should also consider acquiring a long lens. These are some of the pre-requisites on how to select a good lens for this purpose.

• If you can afford it, you should get a long lens that is 300mm or 400mm. If you can’t, get a 70-200mm and it will still allow you to achieve your goals.
• See to it that the lens has f/stop of f/2.8 or f/4.0, but avoid using f/5.6.
• Getting a lens with a tripod built into it is also beneficial, and for these purposes, the bigger and heavier the lens, the better.
• As far as brands are concerned, Nikon and Canon have proven themselves to be highly reliable over the years.

Try to follow these criteria as close as possible:

Avoid Using a Flash

It is only a friendly reminder not to use your flash, because you can distract the players and create a problem.

Making the athletes dislike you is not a good career move for a sports photographer.

Have Shots of Both the Crowd and the Action

When you are taking shots of the game, it is important that you also document the crowd because some of the most epic moments can happen there as well.

Devoted supporters will often have all kinds of costumes or choreography prepared for big events, which deserves documenting. Also, cheerleaders and mascots are part of the show, and therefore they should also be photographed.

Use the same tips as for players when you are taking photos of the crowd and cheerleaders.

Edit Your Shots

Finally, all of your shots need to be edited once you get home.

Some of them will be great as motivational posters, and some of them will definitely come in handy for the journalists who are writing about the game.

This can be really tiresome, since you will need to sort out the good shots first, and then use adequate photo editing tools to enhance their quality. You can, however, outsource this part of the job to freelancers or agencies that specialize in photo editing. It will help you complete the job much faster, and giving this to people who are professionals will result in higher quality photos.

These were some of the basic tips for sports photography that will really come in handy if you have never done these things before.

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Comments

  1. The advice to use high ISO as a rule is both ill-advised and misleading. The key point you are trying to make here is that sports photographers often use a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second to freeze action. While this is often the case, varying shutter speed can also be an artistic choice, such as using a slower shutter speed while panning to blur the background and heighten the feeling of speed. But back to the point of attaining a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. or faster, in full daylight this can often be achieved at an ISO of just 200 (base or “native” ISO for most Nikon DSLRs) and an aperture of around f/4.0, so opening up to f/2.8 would result in twice the shutter speed, or 1/2000 sec. at 200 ISO.

    So the camera’s ability to shoot at higher ISO is important under certain lighting conditions when a high shutter speed is necessary or desirable, but high ISO is not a goal in and of itself.

    • Thanks DJ — I’ll pass this info on to our guest author. This is one of those tricky spots where I didn’t have the expertise to critique, and the guest author showed enough credentials to be trusted. So…maybe we need an authoritative guest post from DJ Toman? – Brian

  2. Another point: there is no such thing as a lens with “built-in tripod.” This wording is simply confusing. Perhaps you meant to say “tripod mount,” which makes much more sense, as a heavy lens should rest on the tripod rather than placing the camera on the tripod and having the weight of the hefty lens place stress on the lens mount.

    The article gives a few sports photography tips relevant more to a soccer mom or Little League dad that wants to take better action photos. However, nowhere in the article does it discuss the actual business of sports photography, so the article title is also misleading.

  3. Good Article! Pictures clicked were awesome and the way they showed to shoot photographs gave me idea to do photography.

  4. Nice informative article. Techniques discussed above are really good, one can improve his photography using them.

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