With the wide array of available equipment and the plethora of disciplines and practices, sports represent a huge subject in photography.
Whether you’re going out with friends (leisure sports) or going to an organized event, like a competition, taking sports and action photography is a real pleasure, and also, relatively easily you should be able to quickly succeed in taking photos with great intensity, either with a reflex (I work with a Canon) or a simple compact (for leisure activities I also use a TG-3 by Olympus, which has the advantage of being able to take underwater photos).
World MXGP motorcycle championship in Pietramurata. Herjan Brakke in action.
Safety – weather – environment.
When you choose a place from which to take your photos, you should always take safety issues into consideration, not just your safety by that of the participants as well. You should also factor in weather conditions which can change quickly in the mountains or at the seaside, so you need to have protection for both you and for your equipment.
Often when there are competitions, there are rules for photographers and certainly also a supervisor for photographers. Go meet that person! If you aren’t given access to a priority zone, don’t be discouraged. Take advantage of that fact to find different angles, play around with the landscape and spectators. Stand out from the crowd! Lastly, look up and around and find out where the light is coming from (sunlight) and ask yourself how the light will change.
Basic equipment and organization
For sports, there are two key words: light and simple, so moving around to get the shot has to be easy. For this I recommend a backpack in the Pro Light line because of how light and comfortable they are to carry, or one from the Professional line if you are lucky enough to have a little more equipment.
But be careful, you’ll want to take the absolute minimum with you to maintain mobility and avoid getting tired out. Lastly, before photographing the subject or the main action digitally, try some shots out, and if you need to, move back, change your speed, your focal point, or even your ISOs.
Trentino basketball tournament. Germany against Belgium, July 11, 2014.
Knowledge of the sport: the specific discipline you are going to photograph.
In my opinion, and it’s also true for some other subjects too, a really important point is to know your subject and your environment. This will also make taking great shots easier. The more you keep up with the sport, the better you’ll know who are the players to watch, and maybe you’ll understand better how certain athletes react. For example, it’s good to know who is number one in the sport. Is there some super big name (like an Olympic medal-winner) who would be great to photograph? Is there a brand new player who has just joined the team?
Footballer Patric Evra makes his debut appearance with Juventus of Turin.
Concentration – Don’t get swept up by emotion
If you’re watching World Cup or the Olympics or other major matches (or even if you’re taking pictures of your kids at their school competition), you may be feeling joy and passion, especially if you have a particular liking for that athlete or for that team. Try to maintain your own concentration, and don’t let yourself get taken away by the emotion, especially at the finish line, when the athlete lets go and expresses himself (hands in the air, triumphant embrace). Stay alert and ready to capture the emotional content the athlete lets out, especially in his look.
World Cup of Combined Nordic Skiing in Seefeld, Austria, January 18, 2014.
Now it’s your turn to capture some great moments in sports!