ACD Systems Blog

Best Practices for Sport Photographers

2013-02-12 16:55:00 GMT

With the NHL back in action and the Super Bowl last weekend, sports photographers everywhere are loving the action! Follow these easy tips to create some of your best action shots.


Photo courtesy of Serge Timacheff

Know the Game!
Attending a sporting event you wouldn’t normally attend? Knowing the game, no matter what the sport will be a huge help to getting the best shots. Familiarize yourself with the rules, which can help you anticipate the action and more accurately predict the athletes’ moves. If you have the opportunity, try to attend one event without a camera, as this will allow you to see the whole picture and not just what you see through the viewfinder.

Arrive Early
Arriving early gives you the opportunity to catch the spirit of the game, understand the venue and look for best positions for shooting. Take pictures of the arriving fans, especially those in their team colours. Use this extra time to talk to coaches or those closely involved with the sport to find out who is a must-see, find out who is the fastest swimmer, runner, hitter etc. Don’t just follow the pack of photographers, move around, find your own good shooting position. Think “out of the box” and look at high and low positions as well as places where others might not think to look (for example, does the venue have a catwalk where you can shoot from the top?).

Study the Athletes
Every athlete emotes in a different way when they win, lose, or make a big score. Watch to see to whom they direct their emotions: Is it their coach? The fans? Maybe a cluster of family and friends in the stands? If you study their behavior during the event, you’ll be ready for the big win or loss and you’ll have a better chance of being ready to predict how they’ll react and catch their emotion effectively.

Sideline Action!
Often there is more to the game than on the field. A great shot is filled with emotion, so keep your eyes on the coaches, referees and benched players, see their emotions and catch them on camera. A great organization tip is to take pictures of the scoreboard through out the event; this will help you know at what point in the game you’re at when you look back at your photos.

Be Creative
Get up cloase and personal. Try using slower shutter speeds to empahsize movement and speed; you can also lower your shutter speed to a long exposure (e.g., an eighth to a half second), increase your depth of field, and lower your ISO (for best quality), and zoom while shooting action for some very artistic, blurry motion shots. Some cameras now have multi-shot images that show motion, as well. Also, by using the higher ISO capabilities of dSLRs, you can increase your shutter speed for better stop-action shots that still have limited or no digital noise. Also, don’t be afraid to zoom-in for tight shots on athletes; you don’t always have to capture the full scene - often this is the first assumption beginning sports shooters make.

Practice Makes Perfect
Attend as many sporting events as you can and take a lot of pictures, both indoors or out. Know your camera! Fast moving subjects are an essential part of sports photography and you are going to have to know and change lenses quickly, change aperture, ISO or shutter speed, and know you way around your cameras menu like the back of your hand. The only way to do this is get out there and use your camera as much as possible.