Back to school season signals the start of fall sports, from football to cross country and soccer. As you prepare to spend weekday afternoons, Friday nights, and Saturday mornings cheering on your favorite student-athlete, don’t forget to bring your camera. Youth sporting events promise many exciting and memorable moments and what better way to capture them to relive again and again than with your trusty camera? Yet photographing sports can be challenging. Elements such as live action, lighting, and field size can present problems for photographers. Here, Michael Broyles Photography offers a few key pointers to make your fall youth sports photos winners all around.
Be a Student of the Sport
No two sports are alike when it comes to the flow of action and how athletes interact on the field. This is why it is important for a sports photographer to have at least a basic understanding of the sport he or she is photographing to anticipate where the action is going, and not where it has been. Although sports are unpredictable, it is possible to at least identify a few spots on the field or along the course where you can set up for a great shot.
Capture the Action
One of the biggest issues photographers encounter when taking sports photos is stopping the action on the field. Using a slow shutter speed can cause motion blur in the final image. To avoid this, you need to use a fast shutter speed. A minimum shutter speed of 1/500 is needed to freeze action; however, the longer your lens, the faster the shutter speed needs to be. Check your camera to see if it comes with a sports mode, which can help minimize motion blur as well. You can also try zooming in to get an up-close shot of a play or player, or getting down low (e.g., kneeling or sitting on the ground) for a more dramatic, engaging photo. An important rule of thumb when taking an action shot: make sure you choose a neutral background, whenever possible, to offset motion in the foreground.
Capture the Emotion
Sports elicit a wide range of emotions, from the joy of victory and the sorrow of defeat to team camaraderie and the traditions that make each sport unique. In fact, there are many great photo opportunities in youth sports that have absolutely nothing to do with the action on the field. If you have been following a team for some time, you may have a chance to join players on the sidelines to capture more intimate photos of them interacting with each other and their coach. Or, take some time to focus on the fans and their reactions to game changing plays. And don’t forget the pomp and circumstance surrounding halftime performances from cheerleaders, dance teams, and school bands.
Use Light to Your Advantage
One of the elements you have least control over during a youth sports event is the lighting. Many games or events take place either late morning or mid-day when the sun is at its brightest, which can create hard shadows in your final images. To avoid this, try to shoot from under a tree to take advantage of filtered sunlight or use a flash or reflective surface to direct light onto players’ faces. If the game or event is taking place in the afternoon or evening, you can use backlighting to add some drama to your shots.
Have a student playing a sport this fall? Schedule a photo session with Michael Broyles Photography to capture your star player in a portrait worth bragging about. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation.