Anyone can take a camera, point and shoot. It takes a little more knowledge and a lot more practice to be good at taking those photos. The tips below are great for beginning photographers or sports writers who aren’t used to taking their own photos. What do you look for? What are some things you should be conscious of? How should you approach an event? There are just a few of the subjects found below.
Emotion really might be one of the most important things to capture. Whether it’s exhaustion, excitement, absolute focus or defeat, the emotion in a picture will make it that much better.
2. Try to allude to movement
There are situations where a little blur is ok. Whether it’s a hockey stick blurring on a slap shot or a baseball bat swinging, that little bit of blur on the object lets the audience see motion. These take a lot of patience.
3. Understand the game
The more you understand the game, the more you’ll know what to look for. You’re not going to be pulled out on a shot when a football team has a 3rd and 1 as there more than likely will not be a pass. Likewise, if you see a hockey team has pulled their goalie, you’ll be looking for two things: the impending 6-on-5 in the offensive zone as well as a breakaway towards the empty net.
Much of this knowledge comes from reading as well as watching. The longer you spend researching a sport, the better prepared you will be. The “…for Dummies” book series has cheat sheets on their website as well as books for sale on various sports.
4. Think about composition
Are you highlighting one person or multiple people? If the answer was “one,” take the photo vertically. You will be able to isolate that person. If you want to focus on multiple people such as two hockey players in a fight, shoot horizontally to catch more of the action.
Bob Martin is an award-winning British sports photographer. He’s covered the Olympics and his work has been published in Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek and many others. Taking a look at his portfolio can give you a better idea of composition to consider.
5. Move around
The readers do not want to see the same angle they saw. If they wanted that, they would look at their own pictures. Can you make it to courtside? Do it. Are you able to be on the sidelines for the football game? Go. Make the photo interesting for your audience.
6. Focus on faces
Your star basketball player’s emotion isn’t in his jersey number. Capturing emotion is all about capturing faces. (Example below.)
It seems like it would be somewhat of a no-brainer, but be sure your photos are in focus. Your auto-focus (AF) might take a second to catch up with the motion. In order to make sure you’re hitting your target, start following the subject in advance. Your AF will have a second to catch up and you should have a focused picture.
8. Have the right equipment.
You probably use a regular point-and-shoot camera. While those are fine for a snapshot at an amusement park or a day out, they’re close to useless for good sports photography. The zoom is usually awful and the quality isn’t much better. If you can use a better camera, do it.
9. Watch the game.
The whole idea of a photo is to capture a moment. Would you rather see the team during a timeout or catch the winning touchdown pass? You have to pass attention to catch the defining moment.
Also, don’t rely on others to take pictures for you. Stay for the game.
10. Pay attention to your lighting.
You won’t always have ideal lighting. Poor lighting combined with the wrong settings will leave you with a blurry or difficult to see photo. Many venues will have less than ideal lighting. Yes, you can edit the photos, but there is only so much you can do.
A lot of this also comes down to the camera. Don’t try to use your iPhone for a good shot. However, you can also look at websites such as this for an introduction to solving lighting problems.