Sports Photography

Sports photography is a type of photography which covers and documents an sports or an athletic event.Sport Management Professional sports photography is a part of photojournalism.

Purpose of Sports Photography:

Sports photography is usually for editorialEditorial purpose, for newspapers or for sports magazines. It also involves in brand advertisement. Capturing of intense moments like victory or defeat which makes that event memorable for fans.

Education and training for Sports Photography:

No specific education required for Sports Photography, but to become a sports photographer training is required for how to capture a best shot in specific environment. Training for the uses of new equipments and they must attend seminars related to the photography field. They should practice because practice makes perfect.

How to practice?

Every sports have its own peculiarities, and sports photographers need to practice for those. Some principles are:

a. Get in close, perhaps with a zoom lens.

b. Avoid cliché shots.

c. Use fast shutter speed.

d. Use monopod or chest pod.

e. Shoot lots of pictures.

f. React quickly.

g. Try panning.

h. Don’t turn your back on the action.

Skills requirements for Sports Photographers:

  1. They must have interest in sports that they cover Sports events.

  2. They should be able to capture winning or action shot of the game so timing is one of the most important thing.

  3. They must be attentive, quick reflexes are very important for sports photographers.

  4. Every sport is different and require special knowledge of that sport to get the best picture.

  5. Sports photographers should have ability to face challenges.

Categories of Sports Photography:

There are two categories of Sports photography:

  1. Action
  2. Feature

1. Action

In this category photos are of the players playing the game. Key player, key play and significant movement. These types of photos are most common.

2. Feature

In this category focus is on the environment, the ambience. Warm-up pictures, victory or defeat, fans and coaches’ pictures and pictures after the game are the examples of feature photography.

Importance of position in photography:

Photographers must know about their position, where should they stand for the key play and which player to focus on. Knowledge is more important in sports photography than sophisticated equipmentEquipment.

Equipment needed for sports photography:

  1. Telephoto or zoom lens

  2. Monopods

  3. Chest pods

  4. Burst mode

1. Telephoto or zoom lens

Many sports photographers use telephoto or zoom to reaching to about 300mm for field sports such as football and baseball. Action photos of these field sports are impossible without telephoto. Long lenses of telephoto bring the action close and isolate it from distracting background. Lens is heavy and hard to hold steady. Minimum shutter speed is about 500.

2. Monopods

Stabilized long lens and monopods for stability. Mostly sports photographers use this setup for field sports because it is easier to move around fast. It does sacrifice some stability.

3. Chest pods

Sports photographers prefer chest pods because of it adds quite a bit of stability and it is much less clumsy. Videographer favor chest pod because stability is critical for videos.

4. Burst mode

Many photographers use burst mode on digital camera which shoot several frames quickly, as a way to capture peak action. It improves the possibility of getting a key shot and shutter is closed mostly.

General procedures of sports photography when planning to photograph a sporting event:

These are some general procedures for photographing sports event:

a. Check lighting and location is very important so focus on good place to stand.

b. Photographers must arrive early to grab the best position.

c. Add artificial lighting if needed. Flash-on camera produce some really good sports photos.

d. Warming up shots of athletes are important ones.

e. Identify players by numbers. Most editors want players identified.

f. Watch for fans expression that makes the great sports shots.

g. The center of interest is to get ball in a photo.

h. Written notes for photos is very important, name of the player and what happened at the moment so it makes good cutline later.

i. Take lot of bad images for a few good ones, it is a principal of sports photography.

How to take Sharp photos in sports photography:

By using monopod or chest pod focus on an area and wait for an action. Keep auto-focus with the action. Spot metering may help for this. Sharp photos in sports photography favor a high shutter speed to stop action. Shutter speed should be 500. In some sports like diving, the action actually stops at the peak moment.

Some tips for sports photography:

1. Permission is needed: it is first important thing to seek permission to take photos.

2. At least 200mm zoom range or lens: As it allow photographer to get close to the action. Two common lenses are the Nikko AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR or the Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM.

3. 1/500th Shutter speed: Sports photographers make sure that the shutter speed of camera is fast at least 1/500th of a second to capture the quick moving bodies of the athletes. Avoid to go below 1/500th of a second.

4. For DSLR use Aperture Priority Mode: It determines the how much light is taken into the camera’s sensor. It also allow the camera to determine shutter speed which is helpful to freeze the action.

5. Setting of ISO: Three components aperture, shutter speed and ISO are very important to determine correct exposure. Set ISO considering the time, location and event of sport. For a sunny day set an ISO of 400 and for a darker day it will be 800 to 1200 mark.

6. If aperture mode is not available: Use shutter priority mode if aperture mode is not available.

7. Use burst mode: It is use for taking multiple images. Switch on this mode when taking photos of sports event. It is also known as frames per second. This increases the chance of getting some good shots.

8. Knowledge of sport: know a lot about the sport as anticipating where the ball or the action. It is helpful to get the best shots possible.

9. Correct position: Best position is sun is behind the back to make sure that more light is on the player or field.

10. Take so many photos: There is no harm in getting lots of pictures and select best from them.

11. Use monopod: It is very helpful for covering sport event as it keep camera balance and steady while shooting from different angles.

World’s best sports photographers:

1) Chris Burkard:

He is known for surf and outdoor photography. He is versatile sports photographer.

2) Lucas Gilman

He is known as adventurous photographer as he take images of horse racing, surfing, rock climbing and kayaking.

3) Michael Willson

He is a chief photographer of AFL. He is an award winner photographer as his photographs published on magazines and newspapers.

4) James Rushforth

He is known for his book “ a climbing guide to the Italian Dolomites”. His book is filled with the images which he had captured during climbing.

5) Russell Ord

He is worldwide known photographer. He is known for dramatic images of surfing. He shot in an extreme weather conditions.


Sports photography is a type of photography which covers and documents an sports or an athletic event.

Sports photography is usually for editorial purpose, for newspapers or for sports magazines. No specific education required for Sports Photography, but to become a sports photographer training is required for how to capture a best shot in specific environment.

Equipment needed for Sports Photography are Telephoto or zoom lens, Monopods, Chest pods and Burst mode.

World’s famous photographers are Chris Burkard, Lucas Gilman, Michael Wilson, James Rush forth and Russel Ord.