Sports photography is very gear intensive and demands exact sense of timing for the action and a right pulse for the sport. Without these it’s tough to get things right when it comes to sports photography. One intrinsically has to love the sport or at least the action of it before getting into the scene, naturally when you love the sport yourself you will enjoy shooting too – and when your photography is coupled with passion, images turnout extraordinary for sure!
As mentioned, being very gear intensive it’s important to choose the right equipment before even thinking of getting into sports photography. There are an array of lenses and cameras available but one has to be precise and prudent while choosing the best. Apart, having a good grounding of the basics of photography is prime for any photography for that matter – concepts like focal lengths, ISO, exposure, shutter speeds should almost be at finger tips and you should have had your hands dirty with all the settings before taking sports photography seriously.
Assuming you have a fair understanding of the basic concepts of photography and have had hands-on experience with all the settings of your camera – let’s get into the priority list of things, tips, tricks and the right equipment,
Be Inspired – photography is an art and any art needs an inspiration, be inspired and passionate about your choice of sports photography at all times. It could often happen that you run out of ideas or inspiration – mostly when you are shooting a sport which is not to your personal liking. Take a break and look for inspiration, past photos of celebrated sports photographers can give you that right spark which will put you in action. Never get to the field without being passionate – it shows up in your photos!
Get to know the sport – you cannot get into the right shooting mode unless you know about the sport – isn’t that so? So know the sport before you shoot, specifically if you have never played it or have very less knowledge of it. Knowing the sport lets you gauge and sense the right sporting action, and sports photography as mentioned is very much dependent on how good you guess the action – the better you guess the best shots you will end up with.
Know your camera – this is of prime importance without any special emphasis. Before you go to the field you should be confident enough with all the settings of your camera. You should be able to toggle with the settings instantaneously as sporting events don’t give you another chance to capture the right moment. Your understanding of the best lighting requirements, ISO and shutter speeds help you a lot in capturing terrific moments.
Get an idea of the location – also, you have to have a good idea of the location of your sporting event. This helps you do your homework on the different angles you would like to capture on the day of the event. Different sports have different angles of priority – it’s different for a soccer match, a Grand Prix, and a Formula-1 racing event. So do get to the location before a few days of the event and brainstorm on the various angles you plan to shoot. Besides, book the best spot early for you to take good shots; generally professional photographers who cover for high-profile magazines and companies get VIP passes. Unfortunately if you don’t have that luxury it’s up to you to go get the right spot as early as possible.
Workout – do workout with your shutter speeds and light settings before you go to the actual event. This is very important so that you are comfortable with the right settings on the day of the shoot. Have an understanding of the right settings at which your camera takes best shots. Though sports photography is mostly about high shutter speeds, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to blindly set your camera at high shutter speeds. If you are keen and experiment you can do a lot out of the box tweaking your shutter speeds and ISO settings. This entire workout will definitely help you in getting extraordinary shots on the D-day.
Get set with proper gear – last but ain’t the least, go with the best of equipment you could afford to shoot your favorite sporting event. If you have studied well and have done good amount of home work on your photographic skills; don’t compromise on your equipment – good equipment is of great importance in sports photography, as sports photography doesn’t give you another chance as mentioned earlier. DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras are the preferred choice in this field of photography and get a decent DSLR that you can afford. DSLRs are very flexible to add-on extra gear for your photographic requirements like telephoto lenses, which are essential to capture shots at greater distances, also DSLRs power you with their high shutter speeds – a must for capturing swift sporting action. And generally interchangeable lenses with a minimum of 50 mm focal length which can be zoomed to 300 mm or above will work and you can upgrade further depending on the requirements and the nature of the sporting event. Requirements vary with indoor and outdoor sports because the source of light is different for both of them.
Learn and learn more – learning is more important with photography as it is with any other field. You have to be abreast of the latest developments and new technologies being released. This will help you in enhancing your photography through the latest equipment available. Also keep referring to the masters of sports photography like John G. Zimmermann and Bill Frakes who are celebrated sports photographers – it will greatly help you going through their masterpieces and learning from them.
All these taken care of, blended with your passion for sports photography, would definitely make you a pro sports photographer for sure – it’s just the effort and perseverance.
Would you like to suggest any tips and tricks of sports photography? What equipment do you generally use for your purpose? We love to listen from you and share your passion for photography.