Taking Better Sports Photos
Posted on 3/27/18 by C G from Gateway Region YMCA

These days, we have cameras in our hands nearly all the time. Taking great photos has become a national obsession. If these photos are of the people that matter most to you and they look like they came straight out of a sports magazine, even better! But how do you get those great shots of your kids in action?

Here are a few helpful hints to improve your photo game:

1. Get close!

This isn’t always easy during a game unless you have a powerful lens on your camera. However, you can always “fake it” by taking some pictures before the game during warmups when it might be ok for you to be on the field. Getting a photo of your subject winding up to kick the ball is a great shot, and if you are taking the photo rather close up, who has to know it happened before the game?

2. Minimize Distractions

Much like the above suggestion of getting in close, it’s a much more compelling image if the subject is immediately obvious when you look at the photo. This means minimizing anything that is not part of the action. If you can’t get in close during the game, crop the photo later to really zoom in on what you want the viewer to see. Or, if you have a camera that allows you to control how much is in focus in the photo (called “depth of field”), you can blur the background so that your subject stands out.

3. Change your perspective

Most people take all of their photos from eye height. While this is appropriate most of the time, it makes for more interesting photos to vary the level from which the camera is shooting. Get low and shoot looking up towards the players to make them seem larger than life. Hold the camera up above the huddle looking down to see the players in a different way.

4. Don’t let the clouds get you down

Cloudy days are actually much better for outdoor photos than sunny ones! The shadows aren’t as harsh and it doesn’t matter which direction the action is heading. If it is a sunny day, take your photos with the sun at your back so that your players are well-lit.

5. Shoot fast and shoot often

If you can control the shutter speed on your camera (which means how fast the camera captures the light through the shutter), make sure you’ve got it set to be fast. Many cameras have a “sports” mode which makes the shutter speed faster. For sports where running is involved, you’ll want at least 1/200th of a second. If they’re swinging a bat or a club and you want to freeze the movement of the equipment, you’ll need it even faster, like 1/500th of a second. It’s hard to capture the definitive moment of the action, so why not shoot a bunch? Burst mode is made for this! It’s digital - take lots of photos and toss out the bad ones later! Pro sports photographers take hundreds of photos during a game and narrow them down to a handful of the best. Don’t be afraid to do the same.

6. Tell the story

Shoot some photos before and after the event, too, making it a more complete story of the day than just a few action shots. Huddles of players around the coach as she describes the play can make for expressive photos. Breaks in the action can also be a great time to catch emotion on the player’s faces. Don’t quit shooting right after the goal is made…capture the expressions of the players as they celebrate!

7. Know the game and practice, practice, practice!

We all get better at things we know well and practice often. If you know when and where to anticipate the action, you’re more likely to get a great shot. Similarly, the more photos you take and learn from your mistakes, the better you will become at capturing that amazing shot!

Written by: Jill Gray of Higher Focus Photography

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*Located in Wildwood, Higher Focus specializes in family portraits, high school senior photos, headshots and sports photography.