Sports Photography golfer taking a swing

Learning Sports Photography

You can learn more about photography and develop your skills faster by spending some time shooting sports events. Sports Photography is a very demanding form of photography with a lot of conditions out of your control. Your subject matter is constantly moving, usually in unpredictable ways, and faster than normal activity.

Sports Photography

Thus, it is best to start out with slower moving high school sports and then move up to college and professional levels. Try to cover both indoor and outdoor events to broaden your skills.

Some Beginner Sports Photography Tips

Learn to be more assertive. This is crucial! Try to get as close as you can to the subject matter without getting in the way of the fan’s view, or intruding on the game. Don’t be afraid to move in, the worst that will happen is an usher will ask you to return to your seat. However, if you look like you know what you are doing and are doing your best to keep out of the way, they probably won’t bother you.

Know what the light will be before you go to the game. If it is an indoor event, this is crucial since all manner of artificial lighting is used and some is so bad you are better off using a flash. If you HAVE to use a flash, make certain you are not aiming that flash into the player’s eyes. Do not get involved in the game. Keep quiet. Concentrate on getting the best photo you can.

Sports Photography handball

Don’t bug other photographers with questions about exposure, etc. You must figure these concerns out yourself. Do NOT talk with any players or coaches. Players sometimes will bug you to take their picture …. just smile and avoid conversations or the coach will do everything he can to keep you from shooting anymore photos. You become a distraction to the players – keeping them from concentrating on their game – and coaches hate that.



MonopodDo NOT bring a tripod to any game. They are usually too big and bulky and players can hurt themselves if they make contact. A monopod (one-legged camera stick-support) is lightweight and easily moved.

If you have a motorized camera and can remove the motor or use manual shutter button, please start off avoiding the use of the motor. There is a significant delay between the time you push the motor’s shutter button and the actual time the exposure is made. If you shoot without the motor the delay is reduced. The delay when shooting non-motor is about 1/200th of a second. That may sound fast but, with fast moving subjects, it is not…. and you need to learn how to compensate for the delay. Learn to shoot an instant before the peak action. If you wait until you SEE the peak action you will miss it. Using the motor’s shutter button means an even longer delay and it will take you longer to time your shooting.

Practice Makes Perfect

Finally, don’t overlook close-up, sideline pictures of players and coaches. You can get some marvelous portraits of the passion, pain, and energy of the game by keeping an eye on players not on the field.

Now let’s head into the lessons on various sports events

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I honestly could not agree less with the point about not talking to other photographers. I do sports photography for a local website and when I was starting out, I had no clue what I was doing. It was the fact that I went up and asked someone for help that I became more skilled. I got tips on where my camera should be to get the best possible photos. Also, I am now in contact with multiple photographers in the area. The best thing you can do it ask, worst comes to worst, they blow you off. But, chances are you will get good advice and make some good connections.

  2. Noah, I can see why Skip says not to ask other photographers. Though I do agree with you that it doesn’t hurt to ask others.

    I think the point is, that when someone is busy it’s best to let them do their thing and not bother them. It’s better to wait until they have some free time.

  3. I’ve just moved to Florida and started taking up surf photography. However, my pictures aren’t coming out the right way because I’m not entirely positive on what settings the camera should be on. I use 800 film from Kodak and normally have my aperture set to f8, but I think the shutter speed is my problem. I normally have it set to 1/500th. What would be some basic settings for doing surf photography?