I put this old sports shot up to impress upon all of you a few basic MUSTS about shooting sports. Learn and practice these pre-requisites and you will be well on your way to shooting good sports photos.
This is a Corvette sports car that was in a sanctioned race. It blew out its brakes and then it’s transmission (downshifting), screamed across the infield and the track on the other side and then hit an embankment. It was launched airborne though there were fifty other photographers there, yet they did not get this shot – the peak of action.
They had fancier cameras but that, in itself, was not enough. They did not study and/or analyze this sport. Knew nothing about racing. And simply assumed that, because they had the “finest cameras” their photos would be fine too.
I studied sports car racing. I walked most of the track in search of the best vantage point. And I brought along a 50-300mm zoom lens to find THE vantage point that would allow me capture the best possible action.
I watched the Corvette head down a long straight-away, he didn’t slow down, and I knew he was in trouble. He screamed off the track onto the infield (which is when the other fifty photographers shot their pics and got shots of a car driving on grass.) I waited and zoomed in…. he crossed the track on the other side….. I waited and zoomed in some more…. and when he hit that embankment I hit the shutter, capturing him in mid-air.
My photo was published nationally, the other fifty photographers are still scratching their heads.
SOOOOOO…. get to know your subject matter.
Find the best vantage point in terms of good lighting and maximum activity.
Bring equipment that has the best chance capturing the images you want.
The key to capturing all fast action sports is to develop your ability to concentrate and anticipate. You will do much better if you know WHAT to concentrate on and WHAT to anticipate.
Once you gain the ability to concentrate, anticipate, and have developed the other photography skills needed to be a successful sports photographer, there are various routes to becoming a professional sports photographer. Some photographers work for local or big time newspapers on “work for hire” contracts where all the images belong to the company who hired the photographer. Other sports photographers work freelance, or sell the pictures off after they’ve gotten that perfect shot. The photos can be sold to various publishing outlets or to stock photography agencies. So, if you are interested in making a career out of photography, your best place to start is with an education and then start making some impressive photos that people will either buy from you or hire you to make more of them.