Sports Photography 101

Hey everyone, I hope you are doing well. This week I want to talk about one of my favorite aspects of photography, sports photography.

Sports photography is one of my favorite things to do. I love it so much because I enjoy the challenge of not being able to direct your subject, and having to capture the moment as it happens. Nothing is forced

Westmont Basketball Game, January 2017

For photographing sports, there are a few things needed. One is some basic skill in photography. Photographing fast moving subjects and being able to capture the right moment is not an easy task for a beginner. Still subjects and portrait photography are what I recommend for beginners. Sports photography requires speed and precision of camera usage. Know your camera, and know how well you can use it.

SBHS Baseball Scrimage, September 2016

Alright now that that is out of the way, I can tell you some more. Another thing you’ll need is a telephoto lens. This is a must-have. I strongly recommend the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. This lens is pricey, usually at $1800, but it is one of the most versatile and magnificent lenses I’ve ever used. I don’t personally own this lens, but this is definitely my next lens. I personally use a 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 kit lens, and it still gets the job done for around $300.

The other important part about sports photography is the camera body you use. Any camera body can be used for anything, but some are better at some things than others. One great feature for sports photography is a high burst speed. I use burst all of the time when I’m taking photos. In the words of Kaiman Wong from DigitalRev TV on Youtube, “You don’t need to capture the decisive moment, you just capture the whole moment, and decide later”. Funny, but true. The Canon 1DX is a great camera for this feature, it can take 14 frames a second in burst mode. This is amazing, but I think any camera with at least a 5 fps burst mode is sufficient, I use a Canon 80D with a 7 fps burst mode. Plus, you can get make awesome gifs of coaches yelling like this.

Coach Moore Yelling, January 2016

Another thing I think is a good thing to have is actually a cropped frame sensor on your camera. This means usually that your camera will actually zoom in 1.5x more than a full frame sensor, which is great for sports photography. This allows you to be zoomed out more and have the same zoom level as 1.5x the zoom of a full frame sensor camera at the same measurement you are shooting.

I recommend becoming adept in event photography before you start taking photos at sport events. I recommend this because you should learn how to move around mostly stationary people before you have to move around fast players, cheerleaders, etc. Especially when photographing a contact sport from the sidelines, it is especially important to know how to move around. I have almost been hit by a pack of football players coming out of bounds. So be aware of what’s happening while you are looking through your viewfinder and be prepared to get of the way. Don’t forget to move around as well, you don’t want to be taking shots from the same angle all day. Don’t be afraid to run with the players going back and forth between sides. This can make a cool series of shots and allows you to take more than a few photos from the player’s front or side.

Coach Moore Cringing


This pretty much covers it, use a telephoto lens, use a camera with a good burst mode, and learn how to navigate fast moving players. Next week I’ll be talking about portrait photography, have a good one!


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