I was asked today to give some tips on sports photography for a page on the Surrey FA website. They are running a competition for photographers at clubs and want them to submit photos of their teams in action with the winner having their shot featured on the front cover of next seasons handbook and on the cover of the AGM brochure. It’s a great chance to have your work featured and seen by thousands of county members all over the county of Surrey. Sadly I can’t enter!!
The tips I wrote were truncated for the website so below are my tips for good football photography. They are by no means exhaustive and there is so much more i can add but it was written with the beginner in mind.
How to capture your teams best moments:
1. Get down low – Ever noticed how all the pro sports photographers are sitting low to the ground? Sports shots look best when you get down low and close to the action as it captures the movement and pace of the game.
2. Fill the frame – You really want to capture the best expressive moments of the game like a tackle or a header so try and fill the frame of the photo to get as much detail in as possible. Facial expressions or players giving 100% can really make a photo jump off of the page.
3. Don’t be afraid to move – Spend the first half in one place and the move around in the second half. Not all great football shots are taken from behind the goal! Try different angles and different backgrounds. Getting your fans in is always nice too.
4. You don’t need the ball – See the whole game. You can capture off the ball incidents or dug out emotions by walking around the pitch during the game. Don’t put your camera down when the referee is ‘having a word’ sometimes these moment make for even better shots than action ones!
5. Take lots of photos – I can take over 1500 shots at one game. This gives me the chance to make sure I captured as many moments as possible. You’ll be surprised what your eye missed and what the camera picked up.
6 – Shoot faster – use the highest shutter speed you can and get close to the action. Most cameras, even non professional ones, give you the chance to shoot at fast speeds and have great zooms. A rule of thumb is that 1/500th of a second is as slow as you want to go if you want to freeze the ball in flight.
7 – Watch out for the sun – Easy to say when we have all this bad weather but keep an eye out for where the sun is. Shooting directly facing the sun is going to give you problems. Keep the sun behind you.
8 – Don’t be afraid to crop – When you get your photos off of the camera, don’t be afraid to crop some closer to the action. You might have caught something on the other side of the field that you want to keep. Crop into the action removing anything that detracts from what you want to keep.
9 – Keep learning – I spend a lot of time off the field looking at the work of other sports photographers whose work I admire. it keeps me on my toes and aiming for an even better shot. I have learned so much since becoming a sports photographer and i am still learning! Dont be afraid to ask questions. If another photographer is at your ground, ask them questions during quiet moments or half time. We all started out somewhere and most photographers are only too happy to help. We also like the company and the chat!
10 – Have fun and capture the moment – Above all enjoy it and have fun. If you don’t get what you want first time you cna always get it again at another game. The beauty of football photography is you never know whats going to happen and you can’t get everything first time. Keep trying and just have fun. We have the best sport in the world, the best fans and the best volunteers. Capture their moments and you’ll have a great time.