They say a picture paints a thousand words. When it comes to sports, fans want to know what happened – and the scores in each period, quarter, or half – but the right image will be what draws them in. The natural passion and drama of sports make it an ideal subject.
Many fans probably think that being a sports photographer is the best job in the world – and in many ways, they would be right.
But there is a lot of preparation and dedication that goes into getting the perfect shot. Sports is not scripted and anything can happen, at any time.
Any kind of sport can provide the perfect photo, of course. It could be chess or football. The drama can still be conveyed with the perfect shot.
The fans have a lot of interests surrounding sports, from buying NBA apparel to researching the boxing betting online.
But it is sports photography that can really sum up what being a fan is all about. So, if you are interested, here are some top tips to improve your sports photography skills.
Know the Sport
Obviously, good photographers can find incredible images when they turn to sports. But it is the ones who really understand the sport who will consistently get the best shots.
When you know a sport inside out, you are able to anticipate what might happen – and that is how you get the perfectly timed images.
Do your research so you know what might happen during the game. You will also get to know how the players move as well, allowing you to wait for a shot that you think might happen. Anticipating is always going to be better than reacting to what is happening on the field or court.
Find an Angle
This plays into the last point in a way. But by anticipating what might happen during a game, you can find the best angle. By this, we don’t mean the angle of your shot, but the story you can tell with your images.
Yes, people want to see the winning team lifting the trophy. But the best sports photography tells more of a story.
Telling a story, or finding your angle, doesn’t necessarily mean using a series of images either. You can tell an entire story in just one photo if the photo is good enough.
This is where research comes to the fore again. But being able to spot what tells the story more than a goal, touchdown, or home run will always make a better shot.
Sometimes it will be very tempting to check the shot you just took. You will develop a sixth sense of knowing whether you caught something special.
But try to wait to check until a more appropriate time. If you are shooting for a publication, checking might be necessary for cataloging purposes – but wait for a break in the action at least.
Even when the action slows down you might not want to immediately check your shots, as the perfect image is sometimes found in the downtime – with the players or the fans.
Trust in yourself to capture the perfect image and keep going for more. You can check your work at the end.
Personalize Your Shots
You may think that people want to see photos of a winning basket or a penalty that wins a soccer World Cup. But the best sports photography personalizes that moment.
This almost always means concentrating on the face. You will get the best reaction shots at the time of the win – or the loss.
This really goes back to that idea of telling a story with your photography. A wide shot of that World Cup-winning penalty might be a good sports image.
But the perfect photo will be concentrating on the face of the scorer as he realizes what he or she has done. Or even the coach on the sideline. The face is where the drama is.
Don’t Finish When the Game Does
You may be restricted by deadlines when it comes to when you finish shooting at a sports event. But if you do have some time to play with, you should always keep shooting after the final whistle blows. You may not get the action shots but you could capture so much more.
Some sports, such as track and field, offer great opportunities for incredible photography once the race is run.
Again, this is where you can personalize what has just happened. These images may be a little more reactive but they could offer up some amazing shots.
This is probably the only purely technical tip we have included here. That in itself should tell you a lot about what it takes to be successful with your sports photography.
All rules are there to be broken, of course. But it is a good rule of thumb to shoot tight on the subject – and crop even tighter.
Your image should allow the viewer to be drawn into the main action. Don’t think of how it can be edited later though; just get your shot knowing that there can be more work done later if needed.
Keep on Shooting
Our final tip for sports photography works for just about every genre. Keep taking the photos. This is relevant during a game (and a little bit after, as we pointed out above) but also with a longer time period in mind. You will only get better at something if you keep doing it over and over again.
We are not restricted by the cost of film these days. Keep on taking more and more shots. You may only keep a few at the end but they could be the best images you will ever capture. Practice makes perfect – but never stop perfecting your craft.