How I approach sports action images

What makes a good sports action image ? Let’s ask it another way–“How do you make a good sports action image?” I’ll say that I am a bit biased in that my approach is to create a show stopping image that shows facial expression, solid action, and a clean background as much as possible. Shooting professionally lends to a bit of experience that I often translate to my kids’ sports and totally in my sports shooter for hire life.  How do I get this shot? First thing is to think about is getting into the best possible light, generally this is putting the sun to your back and really illuminating the subjects as best you can. I take a bit of a low angle (often by sitting down– Important tip especially for a soccer/football match) which does a couple of important things for the athletes; 1. Athletes look like super heros, 2. The athlete will fill the frame and totally make a poster ready shot, 3.  When and if you can, get closer to let the athlete and their action fill your frame, 4. Your shots will NOT look like anyone elses’ !!


If you are only paying attention to one player, things get a bit easier, but that doesn’t mean there is much time to rest.  Focus on one play at a time and anticipate when there is an opportunity to get a really solid shot. Patience is what is totally required because it will take time to get the shots because of players body positions changing and its only when they get older and are a bit more in control of their bodies. What do you need to do this? There is a difference in gear but there are lots of options and without taking too much of a technical detailed talking point detour–longer focal length lenses are much more suited for reaching out into the field of play. The downside is that when they play runs at you, at some point they are too close to shoot and typically that is when things get really heated.

Every time I shoot a sporting event, I aim to come away with a handful of large poster caliber images of individual athletes, some really tight intense action, and sometimes if just for me,  an image that I may want just as my own poster.  The reason why this shot works for my style of shooting is that it can be a huge poster all by itself. This is really and truly a stand alone shot that could easily be in a sports magazine or newspaper as well as a life sized poster on a wall in the game-room or even a banner. My style of isolation and individual action lends itself to poster type images and in my opinion cleaner shots to highlight the player.

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2 Replies to “How I approach sports action images”

  1. That’s really interesting! I can see where it would be more difficult to get good shots if it’s a fast moving game or if possession changes frequently

  2. I’m always in awe of the shots you get – you must be a very patient man, Chris! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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