5 Tips to improve your sports photography

high school football
High School Football - Jim Harmer

Fine.  It's a lie.  I got you to read this post by promising general tips on sports photography in general, but these tips are only about team sports.  But give me a break.  Would you really have read this article if I named it “Five tips to improve your photography of team sports”?  Didn't think so.  Now on to the show…

Sports Photography Tip #1: The worst place to stand on the field or court is the fifty-yard line or the half-court line.  Every time I see new sports photographers go out for their first event, they plant themselves on the fifty, thinking that they will be able to see both sides of the field from that viewpoint.

Sports Photography Tip #2:  Don't just focus on the winning team.  Sometimes the most impactful sports photos are of the facial expressions of the athletes on the losing team.

Sports Photography Tip #3: Consider shooting in JPEG.  Generally, you'll be able to capture 2 more frames per second, and the buffer on your camera won't fill as quickly.  This can really help you to capture the perfect moment.

Sports Photography Tip #4: Learn to shoot with both eyes open.  In fast-moving games like soccer where the ball can suddenly be kicked 100 feet or more, you can look with one eye open and see the ball more clearly and the other eye open in your optical viewfinder to place that ball within the frame.  It's tricky at first, but can really help capture many more shots of the action.   The camera won't block your view of the left eye because usually you'll be shooting in portrait mode when shooting sports.

Sports Photography Tip #5:  Kneel down on the ground and use a monopod.  Shooting up at people makes them seem powerful.  This will add a lot of drama to your sports shots.  The monopod will help you to keep the camera steady in this less-than-stable shooting position.

8 thoughts on “5 Tips to improve your sports photography”

  1. I just found your website and LOVE it!
    I am a “momtogopher”, been taking pics of my kids and their sport teams for about 3-4 years……with my Canon xsi!
    I am so thankful for your information. I will use it daily, as I shoot all the time and the teams have grown to rely on my work….must not be too bad. I’ve had parents make fatheads of their kids, photobooks, just prints for scrapbooking. I put them on a share site and they are free to do whatever they want with them. Makes me feel good helping everyone out & they can see the entire game. Another parent does the video of each game & we work well together!

    I hope to be able to sit down and read more and more of your stuff as I was offered to assist a photographer, but I’m nervous because I’ve been employed for myself for over 14 years and love taking pics and was offered to come check it out. I know I can take great pics but you know how I must feel.

    Thanks so far for all I’ve read!

  2. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

    1. I am a “momtographer” too. I have been taking pictures for many years and the last 4 years I have really stepped up and invested in better cameras and lenses and I am about ready to make a career out of this. I have read your tips and learned a lot but I am always ready to learn more. I am having some difficulty with football at night, it is so hard to find the right setting to get great shots. I am beginning to think it’s impossible. Any guidance????

  3. I looked at your recommended gear – can’t find a monopod that you all like.


  4. I want to say I just love photography. I only use Nikon d3200 I want to say I think nikkor lenses are better than canon sony,pentax.

    a friend of mine who is a director uses canon and he says if he knew nikkor were better he would of went with Nikon.

  5. I wouldn’t have thought that shooting up at the players will make them look more powerful and dramatic. My young daughter’s T-Ball team has decided that they are pro enough that they should be photographed even though they’re only tiny children so cute. So I will look for a photographer who follows your tips as I look for the right team sports photography.

  6. It really can be confusing and difficult to take good sports photos. Usually you end up having to do a lot of practice and using some tricks like shooting in JPEG. Of course, if you have an important sporting event coming up and you’re not sure of your skill then you can always hire someone else until your confident enough with your own photos.

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