Sports Tips from the Pros
Tips to capture the magic
MYTH: Great shots are only made from
Some of the best pictures are actually made from the
stands, or elevated positions.
This is true for almost all sports, but especially
outside the professional spectrum.
More and more leagues are trying to control access
and content so you will have better luck getting
clearance on a collegiate, high school or even
There are many local sporting events that do not
require a credential. Start there.
Look at the type of
pictures that are
being published in
magazines and web
sites. If you want to
shoot for Sports
Illustrated you better
know what they run
If you’re just shooting to become a
better sports photographer, know
what kind of pictures work.
We stand on the shoulders of those
that came before us.
Research the greats; Walter Iooss Jr.,
Neil Leifer, Heinz Kluetmeier, Hy
Peskin and others. Buy or browse
their books….search the web, study
their images. And understanding
your subject matter is critical as
You better know the rules of a
football game before you try
shooting one. Which brings us to…
If you think you know what’s going to happen next,
the better your chances of getting the picture.
If it’s third and long at a football game, there’s a
great probability that there’s going to be a long
pass to try to get that first down.
Focus your attention on the wide receivers downfield
or at the very least, the quarterback…who may get
sacked. Man at first with less than two outs in
baseball? Could be a double play ball…good time
to focus on second base for the slide and throw.
Know your sport. Anticipate the next play…and be
Action or reaction?
There is nothing better than a
great peak moment captured in
sports. But sometimes, the
better image may be behind
you…or after the play.
The react photo will have the
emotion that an action photo
Be ready for the athlete
screaming or punching the air
after they crossed the finish line
at a track event. Emotion is the
great equalizer in sports
Tight or loose?
Don’t be afraid to use long glass. You’ll miss more
pictures but the one you nail will be a belter.
And it’s better to have it “in-camera,” than to crop
into it later. Tight action brings you closer to your
subject and makes the play more impactful….and
less depth of field will diffuse the background for
Incorporate your surroundings…look for the scene
setter…think wide as well as tight. In most sports,
you will have “crunch,” and “grace.” Think tight for
crunch. Think loose for grace.
The cleaner your background, the better your image
will be. At a rodeo? There is nothing worse than
those awful metal bars and people in the stands
getting in the way of your subject in the
foreground. If you go up in the stands, and get an
elevated position, your background will be
dirt…and your foreground will pop….without any
Have the viewer’s eye go right to what you
want featured and not wander into the
Angles! Be different!
We experience life at eye level. So if you shoot at
eye level, you bring nothing new to the table.
Look for dynamic angles. Shooting low gives
your subject a “heroic,” look. Shooting high
may give you a better sense of place or that
nice clean background.
And always look to shoot from somewhere where
no other photographer is present. This way
you will always guarantee yourself an
You’ll need bursts during peak action.
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.