The atmosphere is electric, hearts are pounding, the crowd roars, yet at the precise millisecond the sports photographer has to hit 'that button' and capture the moment for posterity.
We have all at one time or another been captivated by sports images that sum up the excitement of the event . It may well be an image of our favorite soccer idol, a show jumping legend, a test cricketer or an Olympic sports star, whatever it may be it will be the defining moment of the event.
The image may depict the sheer human effort that the sportsman or sportswoman has given or the pain threshold that they have gone through to achieve what may well be their life time ambition or whatever, yet the photograph must represent this unique achievement.
Quality sports shots can occasionally be somewhat difficult to get, it is difficult to get to the byline or have an uninterrupted view of the action. Though forward planning will help to overcome this. The further away you are from the event, the harder it becomes to capture the event in a pleasing manner. Sports are an event where crowd control is important, not only for the crowd's safety but also for the players.
The closer you are to the actions is obviously better, though the correct choice of equipment on long lenses it critical. Typically, for a photographer with a press pass, you can get to the sidelines or other similar locations, which has clear advantages. Though of course you must not be tempted to enter the playing field at any time. You conduct must be impeccable as you are there in a privileged position and will reflect upon your professionalism.
If you do not have a press pass and are stuck in the stands then do get as close as possible, hence the reason for forward planning, as you may have to buy tickets to reserve you seat months and months in advance.
Remember that others will also want to capture that moment and you will be jostled, so do stand your ground.
It is essential that you are familiar with the sport, knowing the rules is not enough, you need to know what to expect so study the sport well in advance. This also means knowing where to position yourself for the best action. Not only does it matter with the subject, but also the background. Look at what is going to be behind your subject. While we will try to minimize the impact that a background has, it will still be unavoidable. So you need to position your self where the background is the most pleasing, using wider apertures thus throwing the background at of focus will help, though is not a complete cure - your positioning is therefore essential to the end result.
Capturing the Decisive Moment
No use waiting for the action reply or the player to do it again, you have to be 'bang on the button' to capture that decisive moment, so concentration on the action is essential.
Sports photography is all about timing and your reaction, it's also about being in the right place at the right time. You can with practice anticipate the moment/ There is a saying in sports photography 'If you can see the action the you have missed it', this means that when you the player dives to head the ball and you see it shoot towards the goal, then by this time the moment will have gone, you need to be on the trigger sooner. So practice, practice, practice.
There are 39 days to get ready for The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
which starts on Wednesday 15th March 2023