Introduction to Sports Photography
Of all the various types of photography, sports photography comes second only to war photography or other intense photojournalism in terms of difficulty. One of the main reason for this is because of an almost complete lack of control over your subject. As a photographer one of your greatest assets is control, whether over lighting, posing, or time, but in sports photography virtually all of these elements are removed from the control of the photographer. You cannot ask a stadium of 10,000 people to stop a game so that you can adjust the lights or a team to forfeit a score so that you can redo a missed shot. The lack of control is one of the reasons that while sports photography pays very well, it is not something you can simply walk into without either prior performance or exceptional skill.If you want to pursue a career in sports photography, and do not mistake it as a hobby as most of your clientele will be some of the most unforgiving if you do not perform outstandingly, then there are many steps you will need to take to truly pursue this.
The first and foremost step will be to acquire the right equipment for this type of photography. While most sects of photography require a specific set of equipment to truly master, you may also make due with less, more, specialized, or “homemade” equipment and achieve the same, or near the same results as with the recommended equipment. This is not a viable possibility with sports photography. You will need to ensure that you keep all of your equipment on hand and in working condition. You will also need to protect your equipment as well. You will most likely be right near the action, which means you may potentially become part of it. While you can recover from injuries of this type, your equipment will not be as lucky.
Next you will need to have a broad and specific knowledge of virtually all sports, unless you decide to stay specialized in a single sport, in which case you will need a vast knowledge of not only that sport but also the entire workings of the industry built around that sport. While this definitely pertains to professional sports, this also keeps merit in amateur sports. You cannot shoot a sport if you do not know the difference between a field goal and a hole in one.
Skill is the third most important thing you will need when doing sports photography. It does seem like it would be the most important, and in many photography branches it is, but in sports photography, the right equipment and knowledge of the sport are even more important. Skill comes into play when dealing with time management during a sport. You will need to have a great understanding of and experience in photography so that you can make sure when that split second action shot happens you can catch it, as well as the moments following and leading up to it.
Being a sports photographer is not an easy thing to do, but if it is your preference in photography, then what I’ve laid out here will serve as a fundamental groundwork for beginning your career. I will cover more comprehensively about the different aspects of sports photography in future articles.