8 Tips to Improve Your Sports Photography
Over the years I have photographed many professional sporting events. I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to photograph high school sports, especially during the state tournaments. I love the emotion of the athletes, the ability to creatively change photo positions, and the potential to capture the drama of the sport. For these tips I will use high school sports as the middle ground, although they apply to all levels from tee-ball to professionals.
"Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail"
This famous quote by John Wooden is one I try to follow in my life, especially in my profession. I have all my equipment packed and ready to go the night before an assignment. I review the shoot process as soon as I receive an assignment, and I prep all the proper gear as early as possible. I pack extra, fully charged NiCads, the correct lenses for the shoot, camera bodies, high speed Lexar cards, Gitzo Monopod and a chamois cloth. If you are photographing youth league or high school sports, make sure you have permission from event organizers ahead of time and know your restrictions in terms of photo positions. This way you will avoid any game time issues that may prohibit you from shooting.
The Importance of Positioning
Be smart and considerate when choosing where you shoot. I arrive early to an event to evaluate the lighting conditions and check for the best photographic positions. Generally, I want to work with the sun, not against it. I prefer nice side or frontal light, and I make sure I have clean, dark backgrounds. Try to avoid having signs, trees, parking lots, garbage cans, etc. in your background. Darker backgrounds and wide apertures make the athletes pop in the image. It is important that you try to find shooting positions where your viewing angle will not get blocked by officials or umpires. At the same time, be polite and make sure you do not block the view of spectators.
Exposure: The Wider the Better
Know the Game
Not Just Action
Try a Different Angle
A Fan of the Pan
Another artistic way to capture amazing sports action is by panning. When photographing a moving athlete, the panning technique is achieved by keeping your main subject in the frame for the entire time of the exposure. The slower your shutter speed, the more unusual and interesting the effect. Pre-focus on the runner’s lane and start following your subject before you press the shutter release button. I generally tuck my elbows into my chest and turn at my waist, following my main subject as I press the shutter release button. Follow the runner all the way through, and do not jerk or stop your camera as you are shooting. Don't be afraid to use your motor drive if you have one. Generally, the faster your subject, the faster your shutter speed should be. This technique will take some practice and some experimenting with different shutter speeds to get your desired image.
The above tips have worked for me. I hope you are able to benefit from them as well. And if you photograph recreation leagues or school sports teams, Zenfolio is a great platform for sharing your photographs with clients in private galleries or posting online to share or sell. I use Zenfolio to promote my work but I also love the private client access, which allows clients to download photographs easily and professionally. Use my code kyle20 at checkout for a 20% discount!
Keywords: david liam kyle, high school sports photography, photographer, sports photography, zenfolio
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