Shooting the FIBA World Cup qualifying series at John Cain Arena, Melbourne, Australia was a lot of fun. It was high quality basketball with big crowds. Here are some observations from shooting international basketball.
What was the Assignment
This assignment was through my business, Melbourne Sports Photography. It involved shooting the games for an international photo agency, and transmitting images to them during the game.
I photograph a lot of basketball but it was unique to be shooting international teams with multiple games across 5 days.
Observation 1 – The Higher the Standard, the Better the Facilities
It often seems ironic, and also obvious, that the higher standard of sport brings higher quality facilities. At John Cain Arena the lighting is very good and that has an impact on the quality of images.
At my local basketball stadium, I am typically shooting at 1/800s, f2.8 and ISO8000. The high quality lighting at John Cain Arena meant I was able to shoot at 1/1000s, f4 and ISO2500.
This has a positive impact on the image quality.
Observation 2 – Big Crowds Mean Limited Mobility
Big crowds bring great atmosphere to the event, but they also limit where the photographer can move. In addition, having multiple photographers at the event also means there are several people vying for the key court-side spots.
Observation 3 – High Pressure Environment
Shooting, downloading, selecting and transmitting images to an international agency while the game is in progress comes with pressure. I am grateful there is a lot of action in international basketball. That allows action images to be shot in the early part of each quarter, leaving time to select and transmit the images. Teams taking time outs certainly helps when there is time pressure too!
Observation 4 – Expect a High Energy Environment
A big crowd and lots of action results in a fun atmosphere. Throw in a vocal announcer and loud music and you have a high energy environment. Expect this and plan for how you will work effectively in similar circumstances.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on shooting international basketball.
I’m returning to Beyond Here having been so busy in my sports photography business over the last 4 months that there hasn’t been time for much else. What a welcome change from the last 2 years where coronavirus restrictions were a major impact. And ironically, right at the moment, I’m writing this while in covid isolation! What to write about? Given my sports focus it seems right to share plenty of tips for action sports photography.
Tip 1 – Moments of Crazy Action
There are times in sports games when there is so much crazy action it is too much to take in. This is a time to be shooting heavily. Moving from subject to subject and looking to capture the action that the eye and the brain don’t have time to process. First of my tips for action sports photography, when the action gets crazy that’s the time to shoot heavily.
Tip 2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot an Extreme Close Up
It’s not easy to shoot extreme close ups. You will have many misses and failures. But extreme close ups can show detail of the game that you will not see from afar. The players expressions, their concerns, their determination. Shoot really close up images using a long lens, or crop significantly in post production to get the same effect.
Tip 3 – When There’s no Action Look for Images which Tell a Story
There is not always fast paced action at sports events. Sometimes there are weather delays or injury breaks or just normal scheduled breaks in play. This is a good time to seek out images which tell a story even though they may not have extreme action.
This night when I went to the cycling, after about 15 minutes of racing there was a major crash and injury. All racing for the evening was called off, and at this point cyclists were returning to the starting area with their own bikes and others which had been involved in the crash. No great action is shown but it tells a story cyclists can relate to. Pushing your own bike, and carrying a friend’s mangled one.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy these brief tips for action sports photography.
Summer is a super time for shooting outdoor sports and capturing action. Lots of people are enjoying the warm weather, getting exercise, and enjoying social time. Here are some tips for photographing tennis.
Tip #1 – Making use of Different Light Conditions
In this post I am including images shot in very different lighting conditions – day, evening / twilight, and night. All offer great opportunities to shoot different styles of images.
Day time images will usually offer the brightest light and will make capturing fast action easier. Twilight images create opportunities for silhouettes and more unique images. And night shots will often give you the opportunity to have the well lit player stand out from the dark background. Explore all lighting conditions for variety in your images.
Tip #2 – Explore Different Shooting Angles
On a tennis court the action takes place in a defined space. If you’re not careful your images can begin to look the same. Try exploring different shooting angles to create variety and interest.
Tip 3 – The Ball Adds Interest
It is not a universal rule, but in general, images which include the ball are more interesting than those without. Don’t take this as a golden rule, but do observe your own images. That makes your timing important to be able to capture the ball in your images while it is close to the player.
Tip #4 – Use Fast Shutter Speeds
Capturing the split second action while the ball is close to the player requires good timing and equipment. It is something which definitely gets better with practice. Use fast shutter speeds to help you freeze the action. How fast? The image above is benefiting from shooting into the bright sun allowing a shutter speed of 1/8000s.
Tip #5 – Close Ups Can be Very Interesting
Try shooting very close up images of tennis players. I don’t mean to stand super close (!) but use a zoom lens to create an image which captures the player’s facial expression. Very close up images can be super interesting.
Thanks for reading these tips for photographing tennis. Happy shooting!
Last month I was the guest speaker at the Maroondah Photographic Society meeting. It was fun to share images and talk about ‘action photography’. I particularly enjoyed the discussion and the questions, and while I was the presenter, I also learned a lot. Here are 5 Lessons from Speaking to a Local Camera Club.
Lesson 1 – It’s Fun to Talk with Other Photographers
My first lesson was more of a reminder than a lesson, and that is – it is fun to talk to other photographers. We share a passion for creating images, and I really enjoyed sharing images and talking with this group.
Lesson 2 – Photographers like to Know Your Camera Settings
During the discussion on action images, with nearly every image someone was asking about camera settings. It took me a little by surprise. Perhaps it’s due to experience (or old age!) but I rarely ask about camera settings. I have either experienced taking different styles of shots, or can estimate by looking at the image what the camera settings will be. That aside, the lesson was that the members of this club were interested in camera settings. Next time I will include them for each image.
Lesson 3 – Positioning and Timing
I mainly shoot sports images and so the discussion did focus on sports photography. Positioning and timing are key to generating high quality sports images. Two simple tips – images will be more compelling if you keen see the players faces, and if you can see the ball. Position yourself to capture both in your images.
Lesson 4 – Amateur Photographers Would Like to Know How to Generate an Income from Images
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been active in stock photography. There are many posts on Beyond Here which discuss the process of shooting stock images and uploading them to an image library where they are then available to purchase. In our discussion on action photography I mentioned that many of my wildlife images are available as stock. This drew questions and was a good lesson for me – there are plenty of amateur photographers interested in how to generate an income from images. See here for what to expect starting in stock photography.
Lesson 5 – Photographers Like to Know About Your Equipment
While equipment was not a major component of the presentation, it did feature and drew some discussion. I briefly covered the equipment we use for sports photography and more generally for action images. You’ll find it easier if you have a camera body which shoots a high number of images per second, have lenses which focus quickly and shoot at shallow depth of field, and use a mono-pod if you are going to be shooting for an extended time.
Thanks for reading these 5 lessons from speaking to a local camera club. To Neil and the photographers at the Maroondah Photographic Society – thank you for having me!
Here in Melbourne, Australia we are in Covid lock down number 4, giving me plenty of time to reconnect with my love-hate relationship with this blog! Prior to lock down it has been a super busy time shooting basketball, football, tennis and hockey. Through the local basketball club I have made a connection with another sports photographer who is looking for some advice on shooting basketball. Check out this post 5 Tips for Photographing Basketball. Below are more tips for photographing basketball.
Tip #1 – Include the Ball in Your Shot
Basketball – like most ball sports – revolves around the ball. As a general comment, images which include the ball are going to be more interesting than images without the ball. The ball provides context and focus for the action unfolding around it. Aim to have the ball visible in the majority of your images.
Tip #2 – Players Faces Make Images More Interesting
As a general rule in sports photography, images where you can see the players faces are going to be more interesting than players backs. For this reason I generally sit at the end of the basketball court and aim to create images of the team running towards me, where I can easily see their faces. Side on images can be interesting too, but if you want to see the players faces more consistently, shoot from the end of the court.
Tip #3 – Look for Emotion
Basketball is a terrific game for capturing action and emotion as it all happens in a confined space. Displays of emotion are fairly predictable in a close game. Your can almost guarantee that there is going to be lots of emotion on display in the early stages of an important game, and at the closing stages of a close game.
Look for emotion on the bench and between players.
Tip #4 – Experiment with Slow Shutter Speeds
Basketball is a fast paced, high intensity game ideal for fast shutter speeds to freeze the action. Once you have plenty of those images, experiment with slow shutter speeds to create unique and interesting images. I usually look to a shutter speed around 1/20s but the exact speed you choose will depend on the age and speed of the players you are photographing. Pan along with the action as it unfolds. Expect to have lots of ‘failures’ with this technique, and a handful of winners which are unique.
Tip #5 – Consider Your Background
It’s most common to focus on the subject of your image, and easy to forget about your background. Basketball can have a range of different backgrounds – crowds, signs, blank walls, other games – so consider what you what your background to be and the story you want it to help tell.
Thanks for reading more tips for photographing basketball. Happy shooting.
Today’s featured photographer on Beyond Here is sports photographer Sally Jacob. Sally is originally from Yorkshire, England and is now living in Melbourne, Australia. Read on to learn more about sports photographer Sally Jacob.
Well, it’s always been about sports photography. I have done a bit of food photography, I spent some time publishing a recipe book with my mum. Just sold our 400th copy. Woo! I worked a season in Greece photographing holidaymakers participating in sports activities and portraits. I’ve always been most interested in sports photography. I recently gave up hospitality work to devote myself to photography full time, mainly for Melbourne Sports Photography. I’m from England where I shot a lot of local football and since being here in Australia have found it fun learning Australian Rules Football whilst photographing a lot of junior games. I have just been photographing a lot of basketball, which was another new sport for me, which has been fun.
Deciding to Pursue Sports Photography
How did you decide you wanted to be a sports photographer?
I did skydiving while at school and was fearless! There was a guy jumping alongside me photographing it. I thought what a cool job and that’s when I decided how fun it would be to be a sports photographer. Following a photographer, Christian Pondella, I just couldn’t quite believe that photographing in the mountains was his job. How cool.
I went straight from college to university to study Press and Editorial Photography at Falmouth University and got into photographing the local rugby for the paper, which I found a lot of fun and I learnt a lot about how to shoot sports. Currently I’m thinking a lot about how to get access to big sporting events, whilst trying to build up my range of equipment. I can tell I still have far to go however I moved to Australia a year and a half ago and have felt a huge amount of encouragement and am learning everyday.
Which are your favorite sports to photograph?
Anything outdoors! Tennis is currently number one. I grew up with tennis and had a great time at the Australian Open this year. I didn’t have media access but still managed to get some shots on the outside courts of some top players. This was a huge highlight for me and has made me realize how much I want that accreditation.
What challenges do you come across as a young sports photographer?
I guess finance is a big challenge. The top gear is really expensive for anyone but I haven’t got a lot of savings or money! Older, more experienced people are constantly telling me that there’s no money in sport photography anymore which can sometimes be off putting when you’re about to put everything you’ve got into a new lens. But then again, I guess the fact I am young, I don’t have a mortgage or family I need to provide for . I do love to travel though, and maybe the job could help with that.
What opportunities do you see?
Well, every year I hear more and more stories about women in sports, and women working in sports. It seems like there are so many more opportunities out there for me than there perhaps would have been in the past. It was great to watch some tennis this year at the Australian Open and see a good handful of female photographers.
Looking forward, which are the sports you’d most like to shoot in the years ahead?
Well, the Australian Open tennis is something I can’t stop thinking about. So that’s a goal for the next year. In the future I’d love to shoot the Olympics and the winter Olympics would be pretty cool. I still feel I have far to go and need to work out what I need to do to reach these goals, but I’m feeling ambitious these days!
What advice would you give to aspiring sports photographers?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. Always ask for feedback and take it on board. If you are new to sports photography, start with a sport you know – it’s easier to shoot something if you know what’s about to happen. Don’t be afraid to shoot in tight. And just have fun with it, play around, try a different perspective.
Thank you for reading about Melbourne based sports photographer Sally Jacob.
(Editor’s note – I have known Sally for the last 12 months and have done work with her for Melbourne Sports Photography shooting basketball, Australian Rules football, diving, cheer leading and dance, gymnastics, and cycling.)
Last month I was asked by another photographer to assist on a shoot. I like helping other photographers and appreciate the opportunity to expand my contacts in the industry, and to learn from the way they shoot. The shoot was great, but I badly misjudged the pricing. Here are my lessons from pricing this photography job all wrong.
What was the job?
The photographer was looking for assistance on a shoot for his sports wear client. The client is a large international sporting brand pushing hard in the Australian market. The photographer has worked with this client on several shoots, most of which he has done on his own. For this shoot he was looking for someone to assist on action shots.
The intention was for the main photographer to lead on both studio stills and video, and for me to be an extra pair of hands to assist and to shoot action images. Straightforward – or so I thought!
When the shoot got underway the client had very specific requirements for the video component. That meant shooting video in a different part of the stadium away from the studio area and the court we used for action images. Can you see what’s coming? Yes, instead of playing a support role, I am now leading all studio and action photography while the ‘main photographer’ is elsewhere shooting video. (Note, I’m not blaming the main photographer. He did a great job meeting the client’s needs, and is clearly talented with both photography and videography.)
It was a terrific, enjoyable shoot and the images are currently being used by the client in a national campaign. Great. The drawback – I hadn’t priced this job in a way which reflected doing the majority of the photography on a major national campaign. So here they come! The lessons from pricing this photography job all wrong.
Lesson 1 – Be Clear on the Brief
I should have been clearer on making sure I understood the brief and based my pricing on delivering those services. That would have given me room to renegotiate the price given I delivered a very different set of services.
Lesson 2 – Put the Quote in Writing
I had assumed this would be a straightforward shoot and didn’t provide a written quote. The business side was simply a discussion and a verbal agreement. Again, that makes it very difficult to renegotiate should the brief change. While I could have tried renegotiating, that didn’t seem like ‘good form’ after the shoot was completed.
Lesson 3 – Industry Contacts are Valuable
Despite getting the pricing for this job badly wrong, I got on well with the other photographer and know that, should our paths cross again, we have the foundations for a strong working relationship. He has already been in touch with me to see if I could help on another shoot, which unfortunately clashed with one of my own. Such is life! When the opportunity comes, you can be sure I’ll price it more appropriately.
Lesson 4 – Working with Others is a Learning Opportunity
Many photographers, myself included, often work alone or with the same people. In this case, we had never met before and it was a great opportunity to see this experienced commercial photographer in action. Most impressive was the way he was able to move effortlessly between video and photography, while also managing the needs of his client who had 4 people on set. Nice work, and valuable lessons.
Lesson 5 – Don’t Undervalue Your Services
This job was at a quiet time of year and I was keen to take on the role. Combined with being interested in this type of shoot, I may have undervalued the skills I could bring to the role (despite the brief changing). I feel like I’m too old and too experienced to make this mistake, but don’t undervalue your services!
Thanks for reading Lessons from Pricing this Photography Job All Wrong. I’m determined to take the lessons and make them into a positive – much like in this post Turning Negative Experiences to Positive. Happy Shooting!
One year ago I revamped my website and refocused my photography business with an emphasis on photographing junior sport in Melbourne. I have been shooting juniors to elite level across a variety of sports with a specialty in action images. In many cases it has been a thrill to see the look on kids faces when they see themselves as the subject of high quality action images. When I started shooting junior sports I expected the strongest demand would be for digital images. A year on I am in a better position to answer the question do photo prints still sell?
We photographed more than 100 junior teams over 2 days. I expected the majority of demand from players and families would be for digital images. Social media is driving communication and shared experiences, and I imagined a large number of the digital images would appear on social media. I wondered whether it was worth even offering prints as it is straightforward to purchase the digital images and make your own prints.
Since then we have been shooting many sports including more basketball, netball, dance, cheer leading, volleyball, and football.
What Has Been the Reality?
Interestingly, across a wide variety of sports, the trends have been similar.
Action images of junior sport have been very popular
Two thirds of all sales have been digital images
One third of all sales have been prints
Almost no-one orders both prints and digital images
When starting out selling action images of junior sports I expected most sales to be digital images. That has been the case, though I have been surprised that one third of all sales have been prints.
Offering prints does come with some challenges. I fulfill my print orders through an external supplier, and ship direct to my customer. Every now and then I have an issue with quality where I may end up having to organize a reprint for my customer.
Despite those occasional challenges there is still a very strong market for photo prints. Do photo prints still sell? Yes definitely.
Thanks for reading Do Photo Prints Still Sell. I hope you can use my experience to benefit your own photography business. Happy shooting.
I recently wrote a post for Beyond Here called Choose Your Photography Jobs Carefully. It outlines my experience doing some interesting sports photography work but having issues with payment. In this post I have an update, it’s called turning negative experiences to positive.
I was dealing with a reasonably well known business, but having issues getting paid. I remained polite through all communications and provided details of which invoices were outstanding, when they were due, how long they were now overdue, and copies if requested. There were a series of reasons provided about why payment had not yet been made, and then steadily, one by one, each was paid over a period of weeks. So there’s the good news – payment came through ok.
A Choice to Make
I’d committed to shooting another job for them, but hadn’t received payment for the earlier jobs. What to do? I considered what was my best course of action, and perhaps they anticipated this as payment was made a few days before the job.
Turning Negative Experiences to Positive
So with a degree of uncertainty I shot the additional job – a 5 hour sports photography assignment shooting a cross country event. I was shooting alongside the owner of the business. How did I go about turning negative experiences to positive? It turns out I had many things in common with the owner of the business. Perhaps the biggest and most important was a common enjoyment of photography and sport. We got along reasonably well, and were able to put aside the slow payment issue and focus on doing a good job photographing the cross country event.
What Is the Positive?
There were three clear positives which came from this experience.
First was that I enjoyed the cross country photography assignment and made stronger industry contact in the process.
Second, while on the job I was asked if I could help with an additional job. This is the sign of a good relationship.
And third, payment from the cross country assignment came through 4 days after the invoice had been sent through. I am expecting that prompt payment will be the norm in the future.
There it is! Thanks for reading Turning Negative Experiences to Positive.
This week the Australian Gymnastics Championships start here in Melbourne, Australia. This is the national champs and is the highlight of the Australian gymnastics year. I’m shooting a big football job tomorrow, and at the same time am preparing to shoot gymnastics. Here’s a run down of the gear which will be in the bag from Monday.
I’ll be carrying all my equipment for this event, so gear selection is a balance between taking everything (!) and being able to carry it. One thing which is non negotiable is having backups in case of a gear failure. There will be a minimum of 2 DSLRs and 2 lenses in the bag. Unfortunately I won’t know the access my media accreditation gives me until I get to the event. This makes planning tricky. Last year I had full access to the gym floor, meaning close access to the athletes. I hope that is the case this year!
My go to, and most used, lens is the 70-200mm f2.8. It will definitely be in the bag and will likely to be the lens which gets the most use.
I will likely only take one other lens to minimize the weight of my bag. That will be the 24-70mm f2.8.
Shoot planning is a key part of preparing to shoot gymnastics. At this stage I’m planning for access to the floor area like last year. I’ve studied my images from the previous national champs, planning for some I want to repeat, and some which I want to improve. This year I’m planning to shoot plenty of fast shutter speed “action freezing” images, more multiple exposures, and also to experiment with slower shutter speeds.
My key driver in preparing to shoot gymnastics is having enough equipment to get the job done, but also to minimize weight. The event runs every day for 2 weeks (though I’m not planning to attend it all) and so minimizing weight becomes even more important. The bag will have 2 lenses, 2 DSLRs, plenty of memory cards, back up batteries, battery chargers (to use between sessions), a cloth to clean lenses, food and a bottle of water. Thanks for reading – preparing to shoot gymnastics. Here’s to a great 2 weeks!