Usually when people ask me about getting better sports photos, the question is focused around what equipment to buy. For this post, I want to provide advice for parents, students and aspiring photographers on how to improve sports shooting.
1) Get close. The best thing you can do is physically move yourself as close to the action as you can. Don’t rely on the equipment to do that for you. A lot of my favorite shots are moments that happen before, after and in between action, and don’t require a long lens to capture.
2) Communicate. Plan ahead and ask coaches about shooting before game day. They’re happy to have other students and parents document the action. Let them know what you’re hoping to accomplish. If you’re upfront and low-maintenance, they’re usually very welcoming and help get you close to the action to get some great images of their team. I say usually because some coaches can be intimidating. If you’re nervous to approach a head coach, start with an assistant or the Athletic Director. The AD is there as a liaison between the community, school and athletic department, so communication and approachability are typically strong suits.
3) Be patient. The more people are used to seeing you around, the more you’ll start to blend into the background and find great candid images. There’s always a period of adjustment where people will mug for the camera, so don’t be worried if that happens a lot at first.
4) Go early/stay late. Before crowds arrive or after they leave can offer some interesting and unique moments that most people don’t get to see. Another benefit is that you can experiment with shooting angles you couldn’t during a game, like standing center court (I almost typed center quart).
5) Get back. Ok, so I said to get close, yes, but then get as far back as you can to find a different perspective. Show the arena/venue as a whole. Some gyms have a track around the upper half that provides a unique angle. Do something different.
6) DETAILS. Keep an eye out for interesting details. A piece of equipment, a message written on a shoe, eccentric clothing: Any small thing that catches your attention will probably make for an interesting photo.
I hope this post helps give some insight into how I work and gives some helpful advice as you pursue your hobby or potential career. I always welcome questions through this blog or email!
Oh, and one note: All of these photos were from this year so far, except that cheerleader shot. It was from 2015, but I hadn’t posted it yet and it’s my blog, so I’ll do what I want.
If you want to see a gallery of my basketball photos from 2016 through March 1st, here’s a link: http://www.zachdobson.com/IN-BBALL-2016/1