Learning How To Be A Sports Photographer
Today we’re going to talk about the steps you need to consider taking prior to embarking on your journey as a professional sports photographer and really learn how to be a sports photographer on the ground.
There are many ways to get your first job but what I’m going to talk about today are usually the most common options used to becoming successful in the sports photography arena.
All sports are very entertaining and if you add photography to the equation, then it becomes a dream job for those who really are interested in both. But considering the fast and ever changing nature of sports, this kind of photography has actually become one of the hardest to master. There are a lot of challenges involved in sports photography but if you really are a sports fan, a photography enthusiast, or both, so whatever happens, the best thing to bear in mind is that at the very least, you’re gonna enjoy what you’re doing.
I’ve mentioned being interested in sports is a big factor as players will always be on the move, so anticipating where the action is going becomes a vital skill, along with keeping your eyes open at all times, and really knowing the rules and regulations about the sports you’re photographing will all help you to be focused on the action when and where it unfolds.
Your photography skills really do need to be top notch, so you should have at least read all of my beginner photography tips. Sports like Soccer and American Football are played on fields so the weather can change from sunny to rainy conditions, so you should be prepared to change your camera light settings quickly. Players move fast so high ISO settings and fast shutter speeds are required especially for indoor games like Basketball or Volleyball. You can remove the grain with post processing or buy a really expensive body to create images in high ISO without worrying too much about the noise, but maybe that would be a good investment after receiving your first pay check.
Telephoto lenses are needed for long distance action and wide angle lenses are great for capturing groups of people like sporting spectators. Special bags are needed for your other equipment like spare lenses, memory cards, extra batteries, and lens changers. Your photography bag needs to be well organized mainly for quickness. so if you suddenly need a lens change or a battery changing, no time is wasted, and you won’t miss any of the sporting action.
So with those few basic pointers out the way, let’s talk about what you need to do to become a professional sports photographer. Let’s assume that you have all of your equipment bought and ready to go. Your photography skills are sharp and you feel you can cover a live sporting event. So I’d suggest starting off with a high school or a college sporting activity. You’re not going to wait to be invited to cover a match, so you need to get started by going to such an event, without any monetary compensation whatsoever. Sometimes, the games aren’t even free so be prepared to spend a little more for the tickets, but just consider this as an investment.
Arriving before the game starts should be a priority. Games are often emotional and full of excitement so try to convey the emotion and the buzz in the room within your pictures. Taking an image of the whole crowd with a wide angle lens on top of a high point is a good idea. Our main goal here is to create a unique and creative portfolio that shows the totality of a sporting event, rather than just the action, and potential clients tend to be impressed by panoramic shots, so find the best spot to capture the complete picture of the event.
When the game starts, your best bet is to use your telephoto lens and set your exposure triangle accordingly. Fast shutter speeds like 1/1000 are excellent for freeze frame shots but slower shutter speeds like 1/80 can create amazing blurred backgrounds which add an illusion of movement to your pictures. Great sport images involve two things, the player’s eyes and the ball. With this in mind, never take an image of a player if his back is to you. If this happens, look for other players or wait for him to turn around. Anticipate what will happen and take the image before the action occurs then activate the burst mode for split second precision.
Keep your eyes peeled and don’t ever look at your LCD after every shot. A good tip is to worry about your shots later, focus on the job at hand. Consider where you are positioned and take note of all the shots you can take from that point. If you can change your location then move, if not then make the best out of what you have. Be wary of using your flash because it can distract players and might disrupt the game. There are certain rules that are given by schools and universities and it is really best to abide by them.
Creating your portfolio doesn’t stop at a high school basketball game. You will move on to a lot of different sports like swimming, horse racing, car racing, baseball, and so on. Granted you may not be paid at first but if you have taken enough great pictures to create an excellent portfolio then you can approach magazines, newspapers, or websites to inquire if they would hire you nor not. Your portfolio will say it all so being original could give you the upper edge, so always remember that in this life nothing is impossible. Anyway, pep talks over, it’s time to show what you’re made of.