Regardless of whether a person chooses photography as a hobby or as a professional pursuit, there are any number of articles that discuss the best equipment set up, camera settings, and lens selection for a particular area of interest.
In the field of sports photography, there are perhaps a set of general conditions which might broadly be taken into account. For instance, many sports involvement rapid movement and fast action. They may be played in a variety of lighting conditions, including sun and shade, as well as artificial lighting. Quite often, the factor of distance becomes a fundamental consideration, as the photographer may be remote from the field of play.
Over and above these basic factors, here are some pointers for the sports photographer which may not have been considered.
Know the game
With it be amateur or professional photography, one of the little considered tips is having a basic knowledge of how the game is played. A base understanding of the rules and ‘moves’ of the game permits a good photographer to predict or anticipate the pattern of play and thus set up a shot in advance.
Being able to anticipate the shot could mean the difference between an average photograph and a superb one. The rules and techniques of any sport can easily be found online.
A good look at Esports betting can also provide some broader knowledge of a range of competitive sports. For the professional photographer, it will also provide an important insight into which sports, in particular, hold the greatest interest with the general public. The pro or semi-pro photographer can thus zero in on popular matches and games.
Plan out the shooting positions
Armed with a basic working knowledge of the game, give some forethought to the best shooting positions, particularly if working in a crowd or stadium.
Remember that many sports such as cricket and football involve a routine swapping of sides – such as at the end of an over in cricket or the half-time change of sides in many styles of football games.
Factors such as the location of the sun or the existence of obstacles and obstructed field of view will also play a part in dictating optimal shooting position.
Once again, a quick internet search of a field or track layout may assist in the planning stage.
Keep a situational awareness at all times
This consideration can apply both to the players’ movements and what is happening in and around the immediate shooting location.
Action sports, in particular, involve just that – a high degree of action, change, and movement. Remember to routinely take your focus off the camera viewfinder and maintain a visual sweep of the game in play. This may reveal other photo opportunities ‘behind the play’ so to speak, which may result in more memorable shots.
Similarly, it is prudent to keep an eye on the immediate surroundings, particularly when working in crowds of spectators. Furthermore, a good many photographers have been caught unaware by a flying ball (or player), particularly when shooting close in!
Look for off-field action
As a natural extension of your scan to maintain situational awareness, remember that many memorable shots are to be found in areas away from the immediate play. Off-field and reserve players, coaches, mascots, and spectators all have the potential to make interesting subjects or studies.
Sports typically involve a range of emotions, and this is a rich ‘feeding ground’ for the canny photographer who manages to capture the moment.
Good sports photography requires a lot of persistence and practice. Follow these often overlooked tips to bring out the best in your photography.