Sports photography can be one of the most difficult forms of photography to master. Both photographer and equipment have to be up to the job and even the slightest mistake can mean the difference between a front-page photograph and something which is unusable.
Sports photography is not something you can learn at college or university. In fact, there is no course you can take that is going to make you a successful sports photographer. So that said, how do you get started as a sports photographer? The answer is like most things practice, practice, practice. You also have to immerse yourself in the subject. Start looking at the photographs in magazines such as Sports Illustrated and ask yourself what makes this photograph special? In many situations you will find itís not only down to the raw action, but the moment itself.
Next start shooting every kind of sport you can from indoor soccer to football. This way you are going to quickly learn what works best for which sport. You will learn to handle the challenges of lighting, depth of field, stopping the action and when itís best not to completely freeze the action. You will also learn very quickly the importance of selecting the right lens for the type of sport you wish to shoot; in many cases you will find that a particular sport requires the use of two or more lenses or better yet entire kits.
Perhaps the best advice I can give to aspiring sports photographers is to team up with your local pro. Offer to carry his equipment, run film or data cards back to the truck for him, anything that allows you to watch him at work. Then when you feel you have an understanding of whatís what offer to shoot your local school or college games. Very quickly you will find your work turning from snap shots to photographs.
Steve Kelly is a commercial photographer and owner of Steve Kelly Photographey in Calgar, Alberta.