Catching A Piece Of The Action

There’s often something a bit dull about looking at a series of stills from a sports game. Sport, after all, is about movement and action. It doesn’t matter how talented the photographer, no image sequence is ever going to reflect fully the excitement and thrill of the match. yukonq.jpg

But a photographer can reflect the way the match went, portray the emotions that the players (rather than the audience) felt, and summarize the game in one image.

That’s really the key to effective sports photography. The technical details are straightforward. Pictureline has an excellent tip sheet which can be summarized as: use a fast shutterspeed; pick an ISO between 400 and 800; open the aperture; and anticipate the peak of the action. But if you look at the sort of sports images that make it onto the back pages of newspapers, it’s the composition that counts as much as the technical ability.

This sequence from the Davis Cup, for example, used a number of pictures to tell a story. No one image summarized the game.

This image in The New York Times however, captured in one shot the Braves’ domination over the Mets.

Which of these types of images should you look for when shooting at a sports competition then? Why not both? After all, the more types of sports shots you take the greater the chance that you’ll sell some.

If you were photographing a minor league baseball game for example, a local newspaper might be interested in a single image of the fumble that captured one team’s slackness in the field.

The team’s website might want a sequence of images that told the story of the game.

And the players’ parents might want images of their children in the standard baseball poses.

So by all means get the technical details right when photographing sports. But get the composition details right too, and get a bigger piece of the market.

Picture of the Yukon Quest by eyebex.

[tags] photographing sports [/tags]

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