5 Fantastic Sports Photography Shots

There’s a level of creativity in every type of photography. From portraits to landscape, the best photographers are the ones who are able to see the details and take a new view of something.

This rule applies for sports photography. We know that when you are a new photographer, it can be hard to get a good range of photos. Everything comes down to practice and when you are beginning your sports photography hobby or career, you’ll want to practice taking lots of photos.

We’ve even talked about the three types of sports photos but we wanted to give you an idea of some shots to look for during your sporting events so you can start taking different types of photos and improving your skills

  1. The action shot

We all know this shot but it’s often the hardest one to get because you never quite know when action is going to pop up. But there are a few places you can strategically place yourself to try and catch the action. The action usually takes place near the key areas of the game. So you’ll want to position yourself near the goal, hoop or home plate. Sometimes you may have to anticipate the play. For example, maybe you are shooting first base but see a play developing at home so you may need to run to get to home! The key is to keep shooting and anticipating action.

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  1. The celebration shot

These are some of the best photos. They are that moment right after the game buzzer or right after the goal. Not only will you want to be positioned somewhere strategically near the action but you want to pay attention to the facial expressions of the players. Try to zoom in as much as possible. What is key to remember with the celebration shot is to keep shooting after the goal or the play. That’s when you’ll get these great photos.

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  1. The sideline shot

The action is not always on the field. The sidelines can tell quite a story about a game. While you are shooting, be sure to pan toward the sidelines. It can be especially powerful to do so during moments just before the action shot. For example, if a player is about to step up to shoot a foul shot at the end of the game or a batter is getting ready to swing when their team has two outs. You can often catch the intensity or excitement on the sidelines. Sidelines also make for great celebration shots!

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  1. The crowd shot

The players are not the only ones who are part of the game. The fans in the stand can make for great subjects of your photos! Your photos should capture the feeling of the game and fans can play a big part in that feeling. You can often catch great crowd photos during time outs or between innings.

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  1. The details shot

These are often the graphical photos that we talk about this post. They are the details photos and you can get very creative with them! For example, the cleats of the players lined up in the dug out or the lacrosse stick laying against the team bench. These photos can serve as excellent opportunities to improve your technical skills when you aren’t trying to catch a certain moment or play.

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The next time you are photographing a game, try to experiment with taking at least one of these photos!

Photographer’s Secret: Don’t Shoot the Same Game Twice

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.

Baseball vs Xavier
Baseball vs Xavier

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. _RS17029

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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8 Tips for Taking Photos Like a Pro – even if you are a beginner!

It takes more than a fancy camera to take really great photos. While a brand new DSLR will absolutely help improve the quality of your photos, there are some important tricks you can learn when taking the photos to give them look better. In this article we’re going to talk a little bit about the framing and composing a photo. There are no hard or fast rules but following these tips will help you to train your eyes to look for different ways to capture a photo.

The Rule of Thirds

Rule of ThirdsThis is one of the most well known composition rules in photography. The idea is to divide the camera’s frame into thirds and place key objects along those lines to improve the composition. This can help make your photos more interesting because it can help the view see more than jus the main subject.

Lines

Lines

Our eyes are naturally drawn along lines when we look at photos. Keep horizontal lines level and vertical lines straight. While this does not always lend itself to sports photography, leading lines help lead a viewer’s eyes to the picture.

 Balance

Balance

If you shoot your main subject slightly off-center to follow the rule of thirds, you can create an interesting photo. But sometimes that leaves an empty void in the scene so look for something that can “balance the “weight” of the photo, like another lesser subject that can help to balance the photo. You can also choose to make a photo unbalanced if you want to create more tension in your photos.

Patterns 

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Our eyes naturally look for patterns and so photos with patterns often quickly draw people in. Patterns are aesthetically pleasing but you can add more to the photo by having a pattern interrupted.

Eye Lines

George Mason vs St. Joseph's Women's BasketballWhen we look into a person’s face, we naturally look them in the eye. In photography a face is a strong visual weight because our eyes are drawn there first and often we look to where the eye-line is pointing. The “eye-line” is technically the implied lines produced if we were to follow a person’s line of sight.

Framing 

Framing

You can use natural objects to frame your subject, which sets your focal point apart from the image. These objects could be windows or doors or anything that creates a visual boundary around your subject, drawing the views gaze to it.

The Rule of Odds

Rule of OddsThe human eye is more comfortable with images that contain an odd number rather than even number. This is because the human eye will drift toward the center of the group and when you have an even number, the center is an empty space. So many photographers choose to follow the rule of odds.

Keep It Simple

Sometimes the simple images are the most powerful. Don’t try to get the entire scene and all of the distracting background elements in the photo. You can do this by zooming in or repositioning yourself so the background element is no longer part of the frame.

Remember, a great photographer is one who is able to see different angles of a shot and capture a moment in a unique way. Don’t be afraid to keep experimenting!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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The Right Camera Settings for Great Action Shots

It’s essential that you get yourself set up for success before the action starts in sports photography. Before the starting whistle blows and the game begins, get your camera set up with the right settings so you can shoot like a pro!

right-camera-settings-action-shots

Check your shutter speed and set it to the appropriate speed. Remember this depends on what you are shooting and how fast the subject is moving.

Set your camera to the lowest possible ISO setting for the amount of light you have to work with. If you are shooting outdoors, use ISO 100 or 200. If you are in low light, use higher ISO numbers. It’s important to note that the higher the ISO, the more “noise” or graininess a photo will have. It’s important to find the right balance between noise and blurriness when finding the right ISO setting for your event.

Adjust your aperture. The aperture is the opening of a lens that light passes through and it is calibrated in f/stops. It can be a little bit confusing when you first start off. The lower the f/stop means that the larger the opening in the lens and the higher the f/stop, the smaller the opening. A larger aperture (meaning a lower f/stop) will help you increase your shutter speed and give you a shallower depth of field to help isolate players from the background. This will also help you have a fast enough shutter speed to stop the action.

Try burst or continuous shooting mode. Continuous shooting mode can take multiple shots at a time and can be best for certain types of fast-moving sports. However, remember that your memory card will fill up faster with burst mode so be sure yours has enough capacity or you will have to delete shots at half time or time outs.

If you are shooting an indoor event, you will need to adjust your white balance setting. The preset daylight white balance setting will usually work for outdoor lighting. Because indoor lighting is artificial, you may want to set up a custom white balance or it can impact your camera settings and change the colors of your shot.

You also need to turn your flash off! This is key! Flash photography can distract the players. If you have a slow lens that requires flash, you may want to invest in a faster lens or rent one from DC Sports Photography Academy.

Remember, above all, that sports photography is something that requires consistent practice. Get your settings correct and remember that with each game, you will improve more and more.

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How to Find the Best Camera Equipment for Sports Photography

Sports photography requires you to capture fast-paced action and in order to do that, it is essential you have the right equipment for the job. DC Sports Photography Academy requires its students to use a DSLR camera that allows for the removal of lenses. This allows our students to get the best shots.

If you don’t want to make the investment just yet, we rent professional photography equipment for your classes. But if you are ready to invest in an exceptional camera for your sports photography, this article will give you details on what to look for in a camera.

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A DSLR camera is a digital SLR or single-lens reflex camera. It allows for detachable lenses that deliver precise photos. DSLR cameras are necessary for sports photography because they have faster internal processing so you won’t experience a lag time after you push the button to take your photo. You can capture the moment instantaneously with DSLR cameras. DSLR camera also make it easy for you to shoot many frames for long sequences in a single burst, which is perfect for capturing continuous action. DSLR cameras give you an unparalleled level of control and speed.

Now that you know you want a DSLR, what should you look for in one before your purchase?

There are DSLR cameras available for all skill levels. Be sure to check the sensor size, frames per second and the lens mount so start with. Another feature to look at is maximum ISO for shooting in door or low light action. The higher the ISO you camera is capable of, the more environments you can shoot in.

It’s also important to pay attention to lenses for DSLR cameras. The DSLR gives you the ability to switch lenses, depending on what you are shooting. If you are a beginner sports photographer, you may want to invest in a kit. The kits include both the camera body and a lens. Purchasing a kit can often be a better investment than buying a body and lens separately. More experienced photographers may want to purchase more specialized lenses to help enhance their sports photography skills. The more advanced your photography becomes, the more you will learn about using lenses and choosing the right one for your camera and situation.

You will also want to make sure you have a high capacity memory card and a camera cover in the event of bad weather. As you progress in your sports photography hobby or profession, there will be more extensive lenses and equipment you can purchase. For beginners, finding the right DSLR camera is more than enough to get you started shooting like a sports photography pro!

You can find the best cameras for sports photography online or at an electronics or photography store.

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Georgetown vs Providence Women’s Basketball

Last week Georgetown Women’s basketball took on Providence Women’s basketball and DC Sports Photography Academy was there to capture it! Our student Rajani had experience with photographing still life portraits, social events and parties but he wanted to enhance his skills and build a sports photography portfolio.

One of the areas we focused on during this game was the art of keeping up with the speed of the game. It can be tricky in sports photography to stay on top of all of the action. It is key to keep people in focus and compose the shot properly.

Over the course of this game, Rajani was able to keep up with the fast-paced and captured some incredible photos!

The Hoyas also scored a win, defeating their opponent 72-70 in overtime! Nothing like an overtime game to help you learn how to manage the fast pace of sports photography.

Take a look at the amazing photos our student took below!

Want to be a sports photography pro too? We have packages and prices for all skill levels available!