The Art of Sports Photography

5 basic things you need to know about sports photography from a professional with over a decade of experience. 

My experience with professional photography began back in 2008 when I bought my first professional camera. I was able to combine it with my interest in sports. I quickly learned how particular sports photography is. You have a millisecond to capture a shot, which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine. Here are some pointers that will help you not only start, but keep going as a sports photographer.  

Start somewhere  

You’ve got to start somewhere! A better advice would be, start everywhere. We don’t wait for someone to yell “Action!” to start capturing moments. In sports, every action is an amazing shot waiting to happen. Snap shots whenever you can. Carry your camera with you and photograph everything you come across. It might feel silly at first, but you will get a feel for it after just a few days. When I first started photographing, I would take pictures of everything. Now, I think it’s beautiful to have all these moments that I can physically look back on.  

Think in motion  

Sports photography is very different from portrait, fashion, or landscape photography. You’re capturing athletes in motion. They will not stand still and strike poses for you. You have to catch them in their best angles. There is something so fascinating about photographing athletes in motion. You have to move with them. Here is a cliché for you: forget everything you know about photography and learn in the field.  

Get a good camera  

Buying a good camera for sports photography is a big investment. It may be far too big for you when you’re just starting off, and that’s ok. I started with the Canon EOS Rebel T1i and I was grateful for it! You can perfect your craft on a decent camera, but there will come a time when you won’t be able to progress any further without a great one. When that time comes, consider the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III. It is one of the best cameras for sports photography, without a doubt.    

Edit your photos  

Many people disregard this very important aspect of photography – editing. If you want to make it in the world of photography, you have to learn to edit your photos or find a good editor. Working with an editor may be more challenging than doing the editing yourself. Another person will never feel your work as well as you do. Because of that, I advise you to pick up editing. I had this realization a few years into my career and it has changed my life. An unedited photo is like a piece of fabric; it can be beautiful, but it is entirely useless.  

Focus on the face  

When you’re capturing photos of sporting events, you’re essentially working to translate the emotions of the athletes on camera. Nobody wants to see another generic stock photo of a tall man kicking a ball. People want to see the face of the man; they want to see the emotions on that face, they want to see every single wrinkle. When the emotions are high, it is your job to show that through your photography.  

The beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. If you can see the pitch through your camera lens, you can see the world in photographs. If you can see the beauty in sports, you can capture it, too. The best advice I can give you, is – don’t be scared to explore. If you keep on taking pictures, you will find your angle.

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