A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to ISO

Over our last few posts we have been going into detail about the different camera settings that can help make sports photos go from amateur to pro.

If you missed our posts on shutter speed or aperture, check them out here and here.

Today we are discussing ISO, which is the third piece of the puzzle for great exposure and clear photos.

ISO is the level of sensitivity the sensor in your camera has to available light. If the ISO number is lower, the sensor is less sensitive to light and if the ISO number is higher, the sensor is more sensitive to light.

So why does this matter? Because higher sensitivity can help you capture the light better in a photo. This is key when you are shooting in a low light environment, say at an outdoor sports game at dusk or indoors where you can’t use a flash.

So you may be thinking that you will always want to use a higher ISO number, especially when you can’t use your flash. But there is a downside to increase sensitivity to light. Higher sensitivity adds grain or “noise” to the photo. This is what causes photos to look fuzzy or noisy and not as sharp and crisp. It’s a little bit art and science finding the right ISO number for your photos.

A photo where increasing the ISO too much would have made it too grainy and unusable.

Every camera has a “base” ISO number. This is usually the lowest ISO number a camera can take to produce a high quality image without adding noise. Many amateur photographers just stick with the Base ISO in all environments. The Base ISO can help you when light is ideal but when you are working in darker conditions, you will want to understand how to adjust the ISO.

ISO numbers start from the base, which is either 100 or 200 and then they double in value. The ISO sequence is 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and so on. The key thing to remember about ISO is that every time you increase the number, you double the sensitivity of the sensor. An ISO 400 is twice more sensitive than an ISO 200.

ISO works with shutter speed and aperture because the higher the ISO number, the less time the camera needs to capture the light. For instance, let’s say it takes 1 second for the camera to capture the scene at ISO 100. Well when you increase the ISO to 400, it will take 1/4 of a second to capture the scene. This is important when you are shooting subjects that are in motion. If your camera is at a lower ISO, your sensor needs a longer time to take the photo. A good rule of thumb to follow is that when you increase the ISO, you should increase your shutter speed as well.

If you are shooting on bright sunny days, you can leave your ISO at the Base ISO number or if your camera has the option, leave it at the Auto ISO. But when you are shooting in darker environments, like inside or in the evenings, you will want to increase the ISO number to help capture photos without blur.

At this point you may know that we always suggest the best way to learn about a particular setting is to experiment with it. Take the same photo using different ISO numbers to see the difference in light and graininess. Experiment in both indoor and outdoors light to get a really good feel for it!

Catch up on the rest of the posts in our series:

How To Get Started Using DSLR Camera Settings

A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to Aperture

A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to Shutter Speed

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A Beginner’s Sports Photographers Guide to Shutter Speed

Mastering your DSLR camera and taking it off auto mode is essential to taking great photos. While there are many different settings you can use, there are a few that will help you improve your sports photography skills. Today we are discussing shutter speed.

First, let’s explain what is the camera shutter. The camera shutter acts like a curtain in front of the camera sensor. It stays closed until the camera fires. When the camera fires and takes the photo, the shutter opens, fully exposing the camera sensor to the light that is passing through the aperture. When the sensor is done collecting light, the shutter closes immediately and stops the light from hitting the sensor.

Shutter speed describes the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera. Shutter speed controls ability to demonstrate or stop motion in a photography.

Fast shutter speeds help freeze action completely. The shorter the time your shutter remains open, the more motion it will freeze. While slow shutter speeds can create a motion blur effect. The longer a shutter stays open, the more motion it will have time to record. Landscape photographers often use slow shutter speed to create a sense of motion in rivers or waterfalls.

Just remember that as long as the shutter is open, the camera is recording the position of the subjects in the frame and if one of those subjects move, there will be blurriness in the photos.

For sports photography, you will typically want to use a faster shutter speed, depending on the type of photo you want to take. But if you want to capture motion blur for artistic effects, like if you’re photographing a runner, you would use a slower shutter speed. In general, because the action is so fast in sports photography, you want to use a faster shutter speed.


Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. Usually 1/4 means a quarter of a second and 1/250 means one two hundred and fiftieth of a second. Some DSLRs have shutter speeds as fast as 1/8000th of a second.

You may be wondering how to control the shutter speed or where to find it on your camera. You can see the shutter speed on the bottom left side of the screen in the view finder. If your camera has a secret at the top of the camera, the shutter speed is usually displayed next to the aperture. It’s not usually displayed as a fraction though. so 1/200 is written as 200. to see if the number is a fraction or a second, look for the “ symbol. The “ symbol is used with shutter speeds of a second or longer.

There are two ways to control the shutter speed. The first is by using the camera in manual mode. The second is by using the shutter priority mode. In this mode, you as the photographer set the shutter speed and the camera automatically sets the aperture based on the shutter speed you set.

The shutter speed is often set by the camera. When the camera is in Auto mode, the shutter speed and aperture are selected by the camera. If you shoot in Aperture priority, you set the aperture while the camera sets the shutter speed.

While we’re talking about shutter speed, it’s important we bring up camera shake. Camera shake occurs when you are hand-holding your camera. No matter how steady your hand may be, it’s not going to be perfectly still and the movement shows up in your photos as blurriness or lack of sharpness. You can avoid camera shake by using a faster shutter speed. if you want to avoid camera shake, the best advice is to not use a shutter speed that is slower than the focal lengths of your lens. In fact, most photographers advise that you set your shutter speed to the fraction of the focal length of your lens. So if you have a 200mm telephoto lens, you would use a shutter speed of 1/200 seconds or faster.

Now in our last post, we talked about aperture so we want to address how aperture and shutter speed work together. The aperture and shutter speed work together to determine how much light is let in to the sensor. If you remember, a small aperture lets in more light and a wide aperture lets in less light. When the aperture is wide, the shutter can go faster but the shutter speed must slow down for smaller apertures to give more time to let the light in. This is something of a balancing act and it may take some practice experimenting with both the aperture and the shutter speed.

Just like everything in photography, if you want to really master shutter speed, it’s best to practice experimenting with it. Take the same photo using different shutter speeds to see how the photos differ.

In our next post, we’re going to cover ISO and begin discussing how these three important components work together to create great photos.

If you haven’t checked out our post on aperture, you can read it here. 

A Beginner Sports Photographer’s Guide to Aperture

We’ve talked about camera settings and how to take better action photos but if you want to take your photography skills to next level, you will want to get to know a few key settings. Over the next few posts, we will be taking a deeper dive into some of the important techniques and settings in sports photography.

We begin with one of the most talked about subjects in photography, aperture. Aperture is the opening in the lens through which light travels through. The size of the opening can be adjusted to let more or less light in. The larger the aperture, the more light hits the sensor and the smaller the aperture, the less light will hit the sensor.

It might be easier to think about the aperture like the pupil of a human eye. The iris of your eye (which is the colored part of your eye around the pupil) expands and contracts, controlling the size of the pupil. The smaller the pupil, the less light can hit the retina. The camera works in a very similar way. The smaller the aperture, the less light that can hit the sensor.

The aperture is measured in f-stops. When you change the f-stop on your settings, you change the size of the opening in the camera. Here is the tricky part of aperture that might take some getting used to: the higher the f-stop number is, the smaller the opening. The smaller the f-stop is, the larger the opening.

This image from Wikipedia gives a look at f-stops. The size of the circle represents the size of the lens of the aperture. As you can see, the larger f-stop number, f/8, has a smaller aperture.


It might take some practice remembering that but for now just remember that the larger the number, the smaller the opening.

So how does aperture effect a photo? The aperture controls the depth of field of a photo, which is the amount of the photo that is in sharp focus. Have you ever seen a photo where the background of the photo is slightly blurred but the subject in the foreground is in sharp focus? That’s a shallow depth of field. A large depth of field is when the the entire scene is in sharp focus.

Let’s look at some examples. In this photo, there is a small or narrow depth of field, as the players are in focus but the fans and the fans are out of focus.


But in this photo, there is larger or wider depth of field. Even the players in the back are just as much in focus as the players closer to the camera.

mens lacrosse

The difference of these two photos depend on the aperture. So how can you change the aperture and create these different photos?

First you want to find the aperture of your lens. All lenses have a maximum and minimum aperture size and you will find these sizes printed on your lens. Older lenses have an aperture ring that you need to turn to adjust the aperture. You will see the numbers on the lens and you will adjust the ring to match the aperture you would like to set.

However, most modern don’t have aperture rings and instead, you set the aperture in the camera. The aperture can be set in Manual or Aperture priority mode. Aperture is designated on your screen as the number with the F in front of it.

Once you have found the right mode and adjusted the aperture, you can experiment shooting in different f-stops to capture different depth of field. Remember, if you want a particular subject to be in sharp focus, you would use a smaller aperture number. This isolates the foreground from the background making the foreground objects look sharper and the background blurred.

But if you want a wide or large depth of field, where most of the photo is in focus, like in the second photo, you would use a larger aperture number. This allows the image be in sharp focus from front to back with no blur.

Aperture also works together with shutter speed and ISO to create exposure but we’ll talk about that in a future post. For now, we recommend experimenting with the different aperture sizes to see how it makes a difference in your photos.

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So You Got A Fancy New DSLR Camera… Now What?!

jeshoots-com-219059You have probably been thinking about getting a DSLR camera for a while now. Maybe you want to capture special moments in your family’s lives. Maybe you have always had a photographer’s eye and want to improve your skills. For whatever reason, you have made the investment in a beautiful new DSLR camera and now… you have no idea what to do with it. There are so many dials and functions and your owner’s manual seems like its written in a different language. Does this sound familiar?

Before you shove the manual in a box, set your camera to “Auto,” we have some tips for getting started with your new DSLR camera.

So if you just got your DSLR and are not completely sure what to do to start making the most of your investment, then you need to follow these steps!

  1. Get the right memory card for your camera

Most cameras do not come with built in storage so you will definitely want to save all of the incredible photos you take with your new camera! DSLRs can accept Compact Flash (CF) and Secure Digital (SD) cards. There are several versions of SD Cards: SD, SDHC and SDXC. SDHC stands for High Capacity, usually between 2 and 32 Gigabytes. The SDXC has an even higher storage capacity, up to 2 terabytes. CF cards are bigger in physical size and they use flash memory to record data. You can find CF cards with storage space from 2 GB to 128GB. You will want to check your manual to find the right memory card for your camera.

You will want to pay attention to the storage space of your memory card as well. Be sure to consider the amount of data a memory card can hold. DSLRs typically produce images that have larger file sizes than point and shoot cameras so you want to make sure your card can store your images. As you can see above, you have plenty of options when it comes to the size of your memory card. Determine how often you are going to use your camera and how much space you really need.

Finally you want to look at the speed and class of the memory card. Class ratings determine how fast data can be written to your card. Classes range from 2-10, with 10 being the fastest. A Class 10 card can write at least 10MB/second, while Class 4 card can write 4MB/second. The speed is important because the faster your can write data, the more photos you can take in a row. Sports photographers usually need faster speed memory card because of the fast pace of the action.

2. Understand the difference between RAW and JPEG photos

DSLRs can save images in two different formats: RAW and JPEG. JPEG photos are processed and compressed in the camera.  The processing means that the camera automatically adjusts for contrast, brightness, noise reduction and sharpness.These files are finished and can be printed immediately after the shot. and RAW photos are unprocessed or uncompressed and therefore not ready for print immediately. RAW photos will usually look flat and dark when they are taken. They need to be processed by software. RAW photos are usually bigger file sizes and take up more space but if you prefer to do editing in Lightroom or Photoshop, RAW is usually a better option for your photos. Whether you choose to use RAW or JPG files, it’s up to you. That all depends on how much editing you prefer to do. However, it is important to note that if you are using your camera for sports photography and shooting burst sequences, you will be able to shoot more photos with the JPEG format.

3. Practice with your manual setting.

The dials and settings can feel overwhelming in a DSLR but they will help you to shoot better photos. It can be really easy to just set your camera on automatic mode and start shooting but we can guarantee you will have a higher quality of photos and feel more experienced as a photographer if you take the time to learn about manual settings. You will want to understand aperture, shutter speed and ISO to help you shoot better photos (We wrote a blog post explaining your camera settings here!)

4. Read the manual (or at least skim it)

We know that the manual to your camera is not the most entertaining thing to read and it is much less fun than actually using your camera. However, the manual will explain the technical parts of your camera to you so you can understand its full capabilities.

5. Experiment without using the flash

We recommend not using the internal flash on your DSLR. They often take unflattering photos and don’t always achieve the look you were going for. If you are using your camera for sports photography, you absolutely should not use your flash as it’s distracting to athletes. Luckily camera manufacturers have been improving cameras so that you can take better photos in low light. You can experiment with increasing your ISO and shooting without the flash to learn how to capture sharp and well-exposed photos without the internal flash.

6. Shoot lots of different subjects and shoot often

You can learn a lot about photography and your own personal interests by experimenting with different types of photos. Maybe you purchased your camera to capture fantastic landscape photos for an upcoming vacation. You can improve your skills by experimenting with shooting events or action photos. Or if you purchased your camera to shoot your children’s athletics, you can experiment with shooting portraits. Shoot often and shoot a variety of subjects. This will help you get more comfortable with your camera!

Most importantly, have fun! You probably purchased a new DSLR camera because you enjoy photography and you want to improve your skills. You don’t need to feel like a pro overnight. Take time to just have fun using your camera and enjoying learning a new skill!

Are you in the DC area and interested in taking your photography skills to the next level? Learn about our interactive sports photography classes! 

How to Get Started Using DSLR Camera Settings

StockSnap_4CLVYHVZ2LIf you recently purchased a fancy new DSLR or you are thinking about making the investment, you might feel overwhelmed at all the options and settings on it. Too many amateur photographers invest in great cameras but stick with the automatic mode and never learn how to properly use their camera. The advanced settings and modes in your DSLR camera were designed to help you shoot even better photos. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t understand what all the buttons on your camera mean, this article will explain the basic camera settings in your DSLR.

  1. Aperture

Aperture can seem confusing at first but it’s an important concept to understand for photographers. If you look at your lens, there is a circular opening where light comes through. The aperture settings control the size of that opening. If you widen the aperture, the opening will get larger and more light will be allowed in. If you narrow the aperture, the opening will get smaller and the less light you let in. If you narrow the aperture, more of the photograph will appear to be in focus. If you widen the aperture, less of the photograph will be in focus.

The important thing to know about aperture is that it’s represented in numbers called f-stops and that if the number is lower, it is a wider aperture and lets in more light. If the number is higher, it’s a narrow aperture and lets in less light. For example, a small f-stop, such as f/2 lets in more light than f/8.

You want to think about the lighting and exposure in a photo, as well as, the focus of the photo when you are experimenting with aperture. If it’s an extremely sunny day, you will probably want to use a higher f-stop so that you don’t let in too much light and over-expose the image. But on a darker evening, you will want to let more light in and use a lower f-stop. Read our in-depth beginner’s guide to aperture here.

2. Shutter Speed

The shutter speed refers to the amount of time it takes for the aperture blades to close to take a photo. It is usually just a fraction of a second. Shutter speed and aperture go hand in hand to creating a well lit, properly exposed shot. When you set the aperture and push the shutter-release button, the shutter will open and close allowing light to strike the sensor for a certain length of time.

Generally, you want to use a faster shutter speed, especially if you are shooting action shots. A faster shutter speed can help you capture the very instant of action.

However, you may want to shoot with a slower shutter speed if you are feeling creative and you want an intentionally blurred or overexposed photo. For example if you wanted to blur the fans in the background of a track meet, you would use a slower shutter speed while panning along with the runner.

3. Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority ModesStockSnap_HBBR93DVH6

Now that you understand shutter speed and aperture, you can understand these two modes in your camera. Aperture Priority is designated as Av or A on your camera dial and Shutter Priority is designated as Tv or S. These separate modes are often referred to as “semi-automatic” shooting modes.

In Aperture priority mode, you as the photographer will chose the aperture value and the camera will automatically set the shutter speed. In Shutter Priority mode, you choose the shutter speed and the camera will automatically set the aperture.

When you want to experiment with depth of field or motion blurs or action photography, we recommend experimenting in these two modes. If you want to have everything in focus or practice with background blur, use Aperture Priority. If you are working on action photography, use Shutter Priority. They can help you learn and feel more comfortable with aperture and shutter speed while still allowing the camera to do some of the work.

4. ISO

ISO measures how sensitive the camera is to light. It essentially controls the amount of light required by the sensor to achieve a certain exposure or brightness in your photo. Low ISO settings require more light to achieve an exposure. Generally if there is a lot of light already, say you are shooting outside on a bright sunny day, you will only need a low ISO number. But if you shoot in darker conditions, such as inside or in the evening, you will need a higher ISO number.  The important thing to remember when using high ISO number is that the higher the ISO, the grainier or noisier the photo will be. Most DSLRs have an “auto-ISO function,” which is very useful for new photographers.

5. Focus

You want to make sure that the subject of your photo is in focus, no matter what settings you use. DSLRs come with auto-focus modes, making it easy for you to set your focus. Focus modes rely on focus points in your camera. When you look through your viewfinder, you will see a number of squares or dots across the screen. When you press your shutter halfway down, one of these squares will be highlighted in red. That means it is the active focus point of the shot.

This is an overview of your camera settings and it should help you get started feeling comfortable with your camera.

We always suggest that you keep practicing with your camera and experimenting with different modes and settings. The more you play with your camera, the more you will improve!

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Using Wide Angle Lenses in Sports Photography

Sports is normally shot with a long zoom to bring the action closer to the viewer, but what if you want to bring the viewer to the action?

A wide angle lens is perfect for this. Because of its short focal length, a wide angle lens requires the photographer to get up-close-and-personal with their subject, therefore bringing the viewer along with them. In the photo below, we caught our expert teacher, Rafael, shooting with his wide angle lens.


Wide angle lenses will add depth to the photo. They help you keep everything with the frame in sharp focus and the view from a wide angle lens will make the viewers feel like they are part of the action. Can’t you feel the action in this photo? That’s because we were shooting with a wide angle lens!


Wide angle lenses are about capturing close up moments and being a part of the action. To use a wide angle lens correctly, we recommend getting as close as possible to the action. You want to be sure you are focusing the camera on your subjects. Sometimes this means getting low and down where the action is! This will create depth and help your subjects stand out in the photo in a way that draws the viewer into the moment. An example is the photo below, you truly feel as if you are in the circle with the team.


With more elite sports, you may not be able to get into the action to practice shooting with the wide angle lens. However, if you are shooting youth sports, there are plenty of opportunities to get near the action and practice shooting wide angle. Have a photo that you took with a wide angle lens? We’d love to see it! Tag us in it on our Instagram or Facebook @DCSportsPhotographyAcademy.

If you would like to invest in a wide angle zoom lens, you have many options. Here are some of the excellent wide angle zoom lenses for Canon and Nikon cameras!

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How To Build An Incredible Photography Portfolio

_CS10836If you are interested in taking your photography skills from hobby to profession, you need to have a great photography portfolio. Much like more traditional jobs have resumes and CVs, photographers need to have a portfolio to show off their work. The process of creating a portfolio can seem daunting. You may feel like you don’t have enough photos or that you need to sort through years of photographs. Perhaps you are not even sure how to get started creating your portfolio. If you want to take the step from hobbyist to professional, they you need a portfolio. Whether you are new to photography or have been shooting for years, learn how to build an amazing photography portfolio by following these tips!

Print vs. online

Before the age of the internet, photography portfolios had to be printed. But not technology has allowed for more options. With an online portfolio, you can quickly email your portfolio to potential clients or employer. However there is power in a high quality beautiful, well crafted printed portfolio. To determine what works best for you, evaluate your audience and your budget. Printed portfolios are typically a higher investment than digital portfolios but if you are frequently going to in-person interviews, then it may be more beneficial for you to have a printed portfolio.

Identify your target audience

It is important to ask yourself why are you creating your portfolio and who do you want to see it? Is your portfolio for editorial work or advertising work, for event works or are you hoping to be featured in a gallery? Do you want to only focus on a certain type of photography, such as food photography, so your target audience may not be impressed with wedding photos or portraits.

If you understand who your audience is, you can try to understand what they are looking for from a photographer and how they search for photographers. This can even help you determine if your portfolio should be printed or online.

Know your goals and choose a theme or style

It is essential that your portfolio has a goal. Why are you creating this portfolio? What type of people are you attracting to look at your portfolio? What type of photography are you interested in? What is your unique style? Perhaps you specialize in artsy black and white portraits and want your work featured in a gallery or you enjoy capturing moments during events and want to be hired as an event photographer. These two different styles would be two very different portfolios. At this point, you may have shot many different types of photos but you want to be clear on the theme and goals of your portfolio before you start choosing your photos.

Quality over quantity

Choosing photos are often the hardest part of creating a great portfolio. You do not want to use all of your photos for your portfolio. Remember that most people don’t have hours to go through your portfolio. You may also want to have a trusted friend help you with this as many photographers like to choose their favorite shots. While you will have your favorites, it can be hard for you to judge your own work. Find a friend or mentor whose judgement you trust to help you choose the very shots.

Beginning and ending

People are more likely to remember and be impacted by the first few shots and the last few shots in your portfolio. You want to pay special attention to the first few photos in your portfolio. Do they set the right tone for your portfolio? Are they going to keep your audience looking at your portfolio? Will your last photos leave a lasting impression? These are important factors in your portfolio!


The sequence of your portfolio can also be very important. You want the portfolio to feel like it flows naturally. The right sequence can help bring emotion to your portfolio, which can evoke a strong reaction from your audience. Strong reactions will help your audience remember your work!  You can sequence by mood, movement, color or composition.  You can choose one sequence or you can mix them in together.

Other Content in Your Portfolio

Your photos are only a part of your portfolio. If you wish, you can add more content to the portfolio to make it stronger and more memorable. You may wish to write an artist statement, which is a statement explaining your work or outlining your concept. You can also include a list of shots included, titles for shots or date and locations of the shot or a thumbnail contact sheet.

Building your portfolio can be daunting but it’s an excellent project for you to get a better idea of who you are as a photographer and the type of work you really love! If you want to add more sports photos to your portfolio, book a game with DC Sports Photography! It’s the perfect way to gain experience and photos of sporting events for your portfolio.

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How to Use Remote Cameras for Sports Photography

This month, photographers all across the country are setting up their gear to get the best photos during March Madness. If you have ever shot a sporting event, you probably already know how hard it can be to cover every angle possible. Especially in high level, fast-paced games like the basketball games during March Madness. That’s why photographers use remote cameras.

sports remote cameraRemote cameras allow photographers to shoot multiple areas of the game, race or match, without actually being there. It also offers a way to achieve multiple angles that photographers often cannot achieve on their own.

If you want to get started using remote cameras, there are a few things you should know. First you have to ensure you have the right camera. Not every camera will work as a remote camera. You need to have a specific port to plug in a PocketWizard. A PocketWizard acts as a switch that allows you to trigger the camera.

You will need two PocketWizards for remote cameras. One attaches to the remote camera and the other is used to trigger the remote. The second PocketWizard can be connected to a handheld camera or it can be used as a standalone transmitter.

Finally you will need a bracket or floor plate that will attach to the remote camera. It is essential that you receive permission from the building or the referees before you mount a remote. You want to ensure that it’s in a safe space and is not a hazard to the players or interfere with the game. Not only will this save you from interference and losing the job, but also from damaging your camera!

Once you have all your gear and permission from the building to set up a remote camera, you need to find the right place to set up your remote camera. You want to think where the action is going to occur and the different about the angles you can capture.

remote camera how toMany sports photographers choose the point of major action to set up their remote cameras. For example, in hockey you may want to set up a camera above one of the goals to get a overhead shot. In basketball, behind the hoop is a great way to capture really great action photos.

You can also choose to set up your remote camera fro
m above to try and capture the full view of the game, which would be impossible to catch from your spot on the floor.

Or maybe you want more options and angles of shots. For example, setting up a camera on the floor, while you’re on the other side of the court. Or setting up a remote camera behind a lacrosse goal while you’re on the other side of it, to give both perspectives of shots.

_RCS0261No matter where you choose to set up your remote camera or how you choose to use it, they can be invaluable tools if you want to advance your sports photography career.

The next time you are browsing through sports photos, take a look at the different angles to determine if a remote camera is used and where it was set up to give you a better feel for how photographers use remote cameras for high profile games.

For more step by step instructions, check out this video by Imaging Resource on how to mount a remote camera here.

Understanding the Three Types of Sports Photos

Sports is more than just action shots. A great sports photographer captures each part of the sporting event, telling an entire story through their photos. You can also do this by focusing on three different types of photos you can take during a sporting event.


Action Photos

As the name implies, these photos focus on the action in the game. It’s the jump shots, the goalie saves, the finish line crosses. These photos require you to anticipate the action of the game and be scanning the field and moving with the action.

To capture great action photos, we recommend having a basic understanding of the sport you are shooting and positioning yourself in a place where the action might take place. Sometimes that means running to home plate to catch a runner coming home.

Men's Basketball vs FordhamEmotion Photos

There is more to sports photography than the actual action. Sports photographers also capture the emotions of the athlete and the game. You want to think about the bigger story of the game, more than just the plays. It may be capturing an injured athlete being support from his teammate. Or the fans reactions after a game-winning shot.

If you want to capture emotions in your photos, it is important to continue shooting even after the whistle blows. Some of the best emotions occur just after the play. And remember, it’s not only the players who have emotions throughout the game. Remember to shoot the coaches, the team members not in the game and the fans as well. Those types of shots can add to the story.

crowdlas02.jpgGraphical Photos

Graphical photos are not as well known as the other two types of photos but they are often the most spectacular shots. In graphical photos, photographers tell the story through little details and small moments. For instance, in a group photo where the helmets of the players are all pointed to the coach, giving his pre-game speech.

It’s the details that help add to the story like  the shot of a challenge flag lying at the coach’s feet or the catcher’s mitt lying alone on the bench. These powerful photos will add to overall story and look great in a portfolio. So be on the look out for visually appealing graphical moments during the games and look for the tiny details.

When you add these three different types of photos together, you are able to truly tell the story of the sport though your photos, which is exactly what a great sports photographer does in every game!

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6 Biggest Mistakes New Sports Photographers Make

When you are first learning a new skill, you are going to make mistakes along the way. It is simply part of the process. But there are some mistakes you can (and should) avoid to help you become a great sports photographer right from the start. These are classic mistakes that many sports photographers make but that can be easily avoided.


  1. Reviewing your photos after taking a shot

This is called “chimping” and it is a big no-no for sports photographers. Chimping is when you check every photo you take on your LCD after you’ve taken it. The reason you should not do this in sports photography is that it takes your eyes off the action. You never know what could happen next at a sporting event so you want to ensure you are keeping your eyes on the action! There will be plenty of time to review the photos after the game.

2. Stopping when the whistle blows

Even though the players stop after the whistle blows, it doesn’t mean you need to stop shooting. A central part of sports photography is capturing the story and emotions of the moments and those emotions often come after the play has been made. Keep shooting during time outs or after the action has stopped. You never know what emotion or moment you can capture.

3. Not knowing the venue and the rules of the venue.

It’s always important to be somewhat familiar with the venue of your sporting event and the rules you need to follow while you’re photographing. Depending on the level of the sport, there may be certain areas you can shoot from or certain places you are supposed to stand. You definitely want to be aware of your surroundings and the rules.

4. Using a flash

Flash photography is strictly prohibited. It is incredibly distracting to the athletes and will automatically give you away as a “newbie” photographer. You can adjust your settings to help you brighten up your photos.

Women's Basketball vs Dayton

5. Sticking to one angle

In sports photography, there are many different angles and ways to capture the moment and tell the story of the game. Great sports photographers understand the need to experiment with angles, anticipate action and move throughout the event to show many different aspects of the game.

6. Worrying about getting the perfect shot

It’s easy to do. We all want to capture the best shot of the game but when you worry or try to anticipate the best shot, you might end up missing something spectacular. Stay in the moment and stay in the action and keep shooting. During the editing phase, you can access the results but during the game, have fun, stay in the moment and relax. You will end up having much more fun and probably capturing better photos than if you were worried!

Wrestling vs EdinboroReady to improve your sports photography skills? Sign up for a class with DC Sports Photography Academy! You can choose one game to try it out or book multiple games to really enhance your skills. We offer classes for all levels. Our classes are live college sporting events where you can shoot the game with a professional, learn new skills and capture photos for your portfolio while having a blast! It’s an exciting and one of a kind photography class that you won’t find anywhere else!

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