Sports Photography: Learn to Capture Stunning Athletics In Motion

Ben SheehySports photographers function in an exhilarating realm of photojournalism.

It involves capturing competitive athletes in the wild. Likewise, shooting sports teams, and sporting events with motion-capable cameras.

Their profession requires them to obtain shots of competitive athletes in the wild. Likewise, they must shoot sports teams, and sports events with motion-capable cameras.

Often, sports photographers do so to capture images for publication in newspapers, magazines, or other paths of consumption for the general public. ESPN Magazine and Sports Illustrated are just some of the names featuring amateur, professional, collegiate sports.

Sports photographers function in a realm of photojournalism which involves capturing athletes, sports teams, and sporting events with their cameras. Often, they do so to capture images for publication in newspapers, magazines, or other paths of consumption for the general public. ESPN Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and many publications feature amateur, professional, collegiate sports.

Read on to learn some important sports photography tips and techniques for novices to observe before they can truly make their mark as a sports photographer:

Study Sports Photographers: Neil Leifer, Mark J. Rebilas, Walter Looss, Bob Martin, John G. Zimmerman, Al Bello, Rick Clarkson, Barton Silverman, Michael Clark, and Bill Frakes are just the names of some of the most skilled sports photographers we’ve ever seen. Google these names or visit sports photography websites to find some incredible visuals and some sports photographer education.

Offer Your Skills For Free: Choose a platform, like Flickr, and post some of your images for fair use. While doing this direct attention to a personally developed blog so that the public has a clear understanding of your passion, ability, and your dedication to the field.

Know Your Sports: An important part of sports photography is knowing when you can anticipate action. To do this, you need to know the rules, the roles, and expect when things may happen. Sports are fast-moving, but it’s somewhat more predictable. Whether we’re discussing racing, fighting, swimming, golf, tennis, hockey, and soccer.

Educate Yourself in Photography: Browse the web, read the books, and scroll stock footage featured on popular websites. Figure out what images are being sought out and how you might improve on the standard. Also, consider taking a photography class or finding a mentor, so you can learn how to use different functions on a camera, including autofocus.

Capture Things in Motion: Sit outside, grab your camera, and practice capturing things on the move, things in motion. Snap images of birds, dogs, and cars. Visit your local park and photograph the pickup game. And don’t just do this during the day. Try shooting at night.

While daylight seems easier, night sports photography allows you an opportunity to investigate low light sports photography settings.

Develop A Long-term Photography Project: To demonstrate your skills and to showcase all that you’re learning, put all of your efforts toward a long-term project that tells a story. When you’re doing so, remember that you must tell a cohesive, compelling story. Think about what images you’d like to share, and consider how they might resonate with the public.

When taking any pictures, whether it’s for personal use or distribution on a sports photography websites, remember the following things: be critical, focus your lens, angle your camera away from the crowd and toward action, and never stop shooting.

After you’ve done all of these things, share images around to peers and professionals; submit to papers, journals, and magazines; and search for sport photography jobs on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other relevant job posting websites.

Drones Moving Into The Sports World

Aerial photography is an emerging field. Some are hobbyists, some are using it to get offer a unique perspective of their real estate, and some are using it to design football plays. Wait, what?

Drones are being used more and more by the football community as an inexpensive way to see exactly what is happening on the field. The view – one that is similar to the view offered in video games so that the user can control every player – has become more and more accessible due to the rising popularity of the practice.

Colleges such as Clemson, UCLA and Oregon State are just a couple of the major Division-1 schools that are using the technology.

It’s not unusual for football teams to have a director of video operations; in fact, football practices are filmed more than any other sport due to the nature of it. Every 30 seconds, a new play is set up and executed. It’s not a fluid game like basketball, baseball or hockey. The offense determines what it wants to do and the defense has to react.

Drones are popping up at more and more practices - and even in high school football games.
Drones are popping up at more and more practices – and even in high school football games.

In the past, UCLA’s Ken Norris would be running a camera from the sideline. Sure, you can go higher up in the bleachers, but you’re still not getting a perspective like the one you can with a drone. Norris has the ability to float a drone right above the quarterback’s head, watching his progressions, seeing how the offensive line operates, etc. With all of the precision and execution required to perfect a play, this data is incredibly valuable.

Norris has been using drones at UCLA’s practices since last spring. Norris noted that having a drone sit right above the line of scrimmage is somewhere that they’ve never been able to access before. They have the ability to look at the linemen’s footwork, hand placement and schemes. It’s impossible to see these details from the sideline.

The first adopters in the sports industry were those participating in extreme sports – skateboarding, snowboarding, motocross, etc. It offered a way to view their mechanics, critique their form and improve their skills.

Now, many startup drone companies are trying to acquire football teams as a client. Michael Williams, a student at Oregon State, simply visited the Beavers’ practice and started filming. He handed the coaches a tablet computer and allowed them to watch the footage in real time.

With FAA regulations limiting drone use to less than 400 feet in the air, it is very feasible for teams to operate the system without any intervention. Don’t be surprised if we see more and more drones popping up at practices across the country.