Different photography jobs require different approaches. This is especially important in sports photography when every sport and, really, every game is unique. You can’t set up and shoot each game the same way. Sports photography is about telling a story and almost there is a new story every day. It is important to approach each game differently, depending on your assignment and the specific situation.
In other words, don’t shoot the same game twice.
We approach every game differently and that helps us capture compelling photos across different sports and games. Preparing your mindset and your plan to shoot for the game you are at instead of approaching every game the same will improve your skills and, of course, your photographs. Here are three tips for preparing for every game.
Understand your assignment.
This is the perhaps the most important thing to do to prepare for your next game. It’s important to understand what your client is looking for and what is important to them. Are you being hired to cover a specific team? Or are you being hired for editorial purposes? Perhaps your focus is on a specific player. If you are a team photographer, have their been underlying stories in the team all season long? Try to think about what story you are telling.
Spend some time getting in the mindset of what your client wants. If you don’t have clients, then experiment on your own. Create an assignment for yourself to practice getting in the mindset or planning for different games.
Study the game.
This is one of the basic tenants of sports photography and it pays to brush up on the game, no matter what. Shooting a baseball game requires different legwork, different angles and different focus than shooting a lacrosse game. Track and field has a different rhythm than basketball. All of these things matter when you are setting up, preparing your shots or planning where you want to start shooting.
Study the players and the teams involved.
You are telling a story in sports photography and you are doing more than capturing action, you are capturing moments. It’s beneficial to have a general knowledge of the players and the teams and perhaps, the stories that have been evolving in the season. Is there a specific player who is known for making big plays? Does a team have a certain pre-game ritual or celebration tradition that you want to capture? These are just some of the things you can pay attention to and try to capture but only if you know them ahead of time by doing your research!
If you are a team photographer, you probably have a really good understanding of the team you photograph on a regular basis but you might also want to get to know their opponent to see if a pitcher is known for spectacular strike outs, a goalie is known for big saves or any other skills that can translate into great action.
Athletes always prepare for their specific opponent and as a sports photographer, you should too! No two games are the same but that is part of what makes sports photography such an exciting experience and a fun challenge!
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