As a photographer you need to be the most focused of all spectators at sporting events not only to make the best images but to keep from getting into the action yourself. To see what happens when a photographer forgets where he is, go to this video before reading on. There are more examples of sports shots gone wrong at the end of this post. For now though, concentrate on getting the money shot without causing problems for yourself (lawsuits?) and others.
1. Note of caution: if a person or trademark is recognizable and that includes team logos and Olympic symbols, be certain to submit your sports images as ‘editorial”.
2. If you are shooting from the stands, it goes without saying that you should bring the longest lens you own. No one cares about tiny dots of people on a far away field unless you are Richard Misrach
3. Go early to scout vantage points for the best images. If you aren’t credentialed, pop for the higher priced tickets to get close to the action.
4. You need not limit yourself just to action shots. A solitary player waiting to go on the field could be a compelling image.
5. No access to professional sports teams? Move down a notch or two in league play to the less famous teams and players. You might even get a chance to go behind the scenes with the players for practice.
6. Team sports are huge in the littlest of leagues. Offer to shoot team pictures for your local youth teams in exchange for sideline access. A great sports action shot doesn’t have to be of a famous player.
7. Action! Try and try again to get the shot showing the ball being hit, the pitch being tossed, the pass being caught, the goal being saved.
8. Women are increasing important players in many sports. Plan to shoot women's events.
1. Sports such as skiing, auto and bicycle racing are all about being in the best position on the course. It’s wise to study the layout before you plan your trip to the site. What will be in the background? In what direction will the light be during the course of the competition?
2. You’ll want to be at the starting line for track and field or horse racing especially if that position will also enable you to get to the finish line in time.
3. They say, "It's not if you win or lose but how you play the game". However, users prefer photos of winners!
4. Don’t forget to check where the light will be coming from during daylight shots. It won’t do you much good to shoot the finish line if you are shooting directly into the sun or in very constrasty light and the winner is only a blurred silhouette (unless that is the look you are after).
You can create images to be used for Olympic based promotions and articles by setting up shots of the sports that will be on the program this summer in China. A list of all the summer Olympic sports is found here
If you want your models to look the part, make certain they are good, really good, at their sport and dress them in the typical kinds of sport clothing worn for big time competition.
1. You have more leeway with individuals that are enjoying sports as leisure activities. Take time to get into the best position to capture that snowboarder catching air or get the tennis player with the ball on the racket in midswing.
2. Get the facial expressions of joy or fear!
3. Go around the neighborhood. Catch a pickup basketball game
3. Shoot still life of the equipment.
4. Don’t forget model releases.
1, Most sports image have a concept associated with them such as speed, skill, victory, success, defeat and these concepts carry over into usages in promos and ads that are not necessarily about sports. Be certain to double-check the keywords on sports images to ensure that you have included all the possible concepts.
2. Be specific about the venue, the player’s names if you know them etc when keywording images for editorial licenses.
Be aware all the action around to the side and behind you. Sometimes the best and most evocative images are the emotions on the faces of the members of the crowd or the judges or referees. If a photographer had been in the right place when my 10-year-old stepson caught a fly ball at his first ever Dodger baseball game, the photographer would have had the shot of a lifetime. As in all sports photography, timing and location is everything.
Some final tips.
1. Make certain that photography is allowed at the event
2. Don’t interfere with the action. Learn about the injury suffered by a golfer when a fan was taking his picture: here
3. Not only do players get hurt and the competition interrupted, see what happens as an unobservant photographer interferes with a practice run at a track and field event a track and field practice event
4. Avoid using flash if it will distract the player(s).
5. Secure your equipment so that it doesn’t fall over or otherwise get in the way of either the spectators or go missing when you are involved in shooting. Neglect this and you may find yourself on the business end of a 2 million dollar lawsuit like this described in this news report
6. Prepare for the worst possible weather and once in a while put the camera away and enjoy the game.
Want to experience a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot and photograph a famous model? Go to the shoot here