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by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2011

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Sports photography

"...the great arenas where dreams are made and crushed in equal measure."

Sports photography by Mike McNamee

It is some time since we had an in-depth issue centred on sports photography and with the Olympics looming it seemed a good time to take another look.

Sport has always been a glamorous side of our profession: fast action, fast lenses, high-speed cameras, a smattering of lovelies (male and female) against a backdrop of the roaring crowd, layered up behind the photographer, who has arguably the best seat in the house!

As a genre, sport requires many disciplines, but a good eye, fast hands, knowledge and dedication are prerequisites for success. We have therefore concentrated on the technical aspects of selecting and using gear, looking after both it, and yourself, and illustrated this with the work of as many Societies' members as we could get our hands on.

If you look through the monthly competitions you will see many superb shots made at some of the best locations around, long may it continue.


In its sport section, the Handbook of the Bureau of Freelance Photographers starts at Air Gunner and finishes at The Wisden Cricketer with 31 publications in between. On top of that there are all the nationa news papers and local rags, all of which have sport sections. It is not coincidence that sport is almost invariably placed on the back pages of the papers, such is its importance to the readership.

All this activity needs pictures and they are only topical for a day or two at the most, so new ones are needed daily. Despite this, it is a tough sector from which to make a living and only a handful of professionals travel the world to the big glamour events - you are unlikely to get access to close action without the backing of a major publication or agency. There is, however, the opportunity to learn your craft and build your portfolio at lesser events.

In social photography a wedding is a wedding and you launch right in at the deep end with people's lifetime memories at stake; at least with sport you can cut your teeth at the local park, league matches where you can make your mistakes and progress from them.

Many sports meetings will support the presence of an 'event' style photographer, providing an opportunity to make a living.


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1st Published 01/08/2011
last update 17/10/2017 14:22:35

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Updated 17/10/2017 14:22:35 Last Modified: Tuesday, 17 October 2017