Sports Photography Tips

"Where can I look for sports photography tips that will make my action pictures shine?" - The answer is here.

Sports photography can be challenging and rewarding. Perhaps you want to capture your children's soccer or football games, or the intense action of your favorite team. Utilizing the following proven sports photography tips will allow your images to shine.

Professional photographers use the best equipment and years of experience to produce exceptional results. The following are a few short cuts to success that do not require expensive cameras or ten years in the field.

Sports Photography Tips: Inexpensive Short Cuts

  1. Know what you want to photograph

    Having a basic knowledge about the sport you are photographing makes a drastic difference in your approach to sports photography.

    Soccer matches and football games have boundaries. With boundary-based sports you are able to position yourself in a location where action is sure to take place.

    A triathlon or road running race requires careful positioning; you may even be able to move around to capture action from different points in the race.

  2. The Two Approaches to Sports Photography

    Most photographers use a mixture of two basic approaches. You can follow subjects, keeping them framed and waiting for action to happen; or you can focus your camera on a location where action is sure to happen.

    A photographer implementing the first method at a basketball game may follow a star player keeping them framed, waiting for the right moment. Following the second method, a photographer would focus on the net, waiting for the player to come to the net.

  3. Panning

    A great way of freezing action is to pan with your subject as it moves. An excellent strategy is to focus your camera on an area that the subject will pass, follow them with the frame as they pass that point, and take the image while you continue to move the camera, following the subject.

  4. Fast Shutter Speed

    To capture fast moving action, it is best to keep the shutter speed reading (measured in fractions of a second) as fast as possible. A shutter speed of 1/500th of a second (sometimes noted as just 500) will be better than a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second when capturing action.

    When more light is allowed to enter the camera the margin for error with action shots increases. Of all the technical sports photography tips, this one is most important.

  5. Practice

    The best way to improve your action photography skills is to practice. Practicing these short cuts will allow you to implement them seamlessly, without thinking. You don't need a sporting event to practice. You can use any predictable, moving object to use these photography skills.

Equipment Tips

  1. Reduce Lag and Latency Time

    Lag time is the amount of time it takes your camera to open the shutter after you press the shutter release button. In most film cameras it is instantaneous. Many inexpensive digital cameras have a long lag time. Most digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras have a short lag time.

    If you plan on purchasing a new digital camera for sports photography use, research the camera's lag time.

    Latency time is similar; in a digital camera latency time is the time it takes for the camera to write the image to the memory card. In general, more expensive cameras write larger images faster.

  2. Lens Selection

    Another piece of equipment that may improve sports photographs is the lens. Autofocus lenses for SLR cameras are handy. By focusing for you they reduce the chance of out of focus images.

    Lenses with image stabilizers help eliminate the effect that shaky hands may have on an image. Lenses with longer focal lengths (measured in millimeters) allow you to zoom in on your subject, and isolate the action.

  3. Tripod or Monopod

    A tripod or monopod is one of the best investments for sports photography. These simple tools will help keep your camera balanced, and reduce the likelihood of movement from your hands ruining the image. They come at a cost. Tripods and monopods reduce your ability to move with the action.

Following these pieces of professional advice will help you become a better sports photographer. The main elements to remember are to keep your shutter speed high, pan with your subject, and anticipate the action of the sporting event.

Remember to never stick to one strict style and not to be afraid to experiment. Out of focus, blurry or ruined images are often more unique and visually interesting than perfect action shots, so don't immediately dismiss them as failures.

Most importantly, focusing on simplicity and uncluttered images may be the most important of all sports photography tips.

Return to the top of Sports Photography Tips Event Photography Tips or Photography Tips