If you are anything like me, you spend your evening Ubëring your kids to sports practice and most of your weekends on the sidelines and spend a lot of time looking for the best equipment and kit for them, (click this link for examples). I know a lot of parents who pick up a camera just so that they can capture their kids doing the activities that they dedicate themselves to. So, with this in mind, I’ve come up with five kids’ sports photography tips to help you get the best images/memories. Most of these tips are applicable to all photography, but I will explain how it applies to sports photography to help you along your way. You will quickly realize that soccer is our family’s sport of choice, but again, these tips will work with all sports!
I will note that I shoot in manual, and this allows me to use these tips to maximum benefit so my bonus tip is to learn to shoot in manual. Your photography will grow by leaps and bounds when you do. If you like a more basic camera without the ‘fancy’ buttons, you can check out some classic cameras from the past to see if they fit your shooting skills better. It is evident that cameras have changed over the years, however, some people like to go classic as it gives them an edge over what they want.
#1 Burst Mode
When it comes to portraits, I’m not a fan. But Burst Mode on your camera is perfect for sports photography. I look for a moment that I think will create a cool image, I compose my shot, and I hold that shutter button down. When I upload my images, I go through the series and pick the best overall image (usually the height of the action) to edit and keep as my final image. There are chances that some of the images have turned out to be blurry, but that can be fixed with editing tools such as the ones provided by Topaz Labs. It allows me to have multiple options and shoot very fast.
#2 Look for the Light
Sometimes, you just have to deal with whatever the lighting situation is, but I always take a look and see what I have to work with so that I can leverage the light to my benefit. For instance, in the photo below, you will notice that the subject is back-lit. The sun was low in the sky and coming in the widows on one side of the building. If I had shot from the other side of the stadium, this image would be a completely different image. I love a backlit image, so I positioned myself so that the sun was behind my subject and the result is fantastic. My subject is highlighted and, combined with depth of field, separated from the background. And in the second image, I used those Friday night lights with no flash to highlight the drama of the moment. In fact, you will notice that I don’t use flash in any of my images and prefer to work with available light.
#3 Point of View
Practice using point of view to help tell the story of your image. In the image below, I took the photo from behind the action so that the kid with the ball is positioned ahead of the other players. This shows that he was in a break-away and helps the image tell a story. Another way to use point of view to your benefit is to shoot from down low to emphasize a volleyball or basketball player’s vertical position. Or, you might get in the water or really close to it to capture a swimmer. I like to sit on the turf during soccer matches. It really makes you feel like you are in the action in the final images. The possibilities are endless!
#4 Contact Makes the Best Action Shots
I see many parents try to get that typical shot where only your kid is in focus and there is no one else in the photo. Of course get that shot, but my favorite images usually include player contact. I love it when two or more players are fighting it out. It often results in some great action. I also point out how being on the ground (point of view #3) makes this image so much better than if I were shooting down from a standing position. And burst mode (#1) helped me catch the perfect moment.
#5 Don’t Forget to Capture the Celebration
There is a lot of opportunity to capture emotion when photographing sports; celebration and defeat are two of the best. It’s the culmination of all the time and dedication they put into their sport of choice, so take a moment to grab a shot in the moment. I will tell you, that this is hard to do. I get caught up in the moment so easily that I often forget. But it’s so worth it if you do, and it’ll be a moment that your kiddos will treasure also.