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!
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.)
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!
I photograph a lot of basketball. Over the last 5 years this has mainly been kids basketball, and in the last 12 months much more senior basketball. Basketball can be tricky to shoot – it’s fast moving, players movements are unpredictable, and often it is in dark stadiums. Here are 5 tips for photographing basketball.
Tip #1 – Use Fast Shutter Speeds to Freeze Action
Basketball is a fast moving sport. In the junior age groups there is lots of running and dribbling. As the players get older there is more passing and shooting. Whether you are shooting juniors or seniors you’ll need to shoot at 1/1000s as a minimum to freeze the action and have sharp images.
Tip #2 – Shoot Close Ups AND more Distant Images
The first image in this post shows a close up of the player as she drives to the basket with a defender right in her face. These make interesting images as they show what spectators can’t see in a fast moving game. Shoot plenty of close up, and don’t forget to shoot images which show more of the game, the court, the spectators and the scoreboard. Look to shoot a variety of images which show all aspects of the game, not just player close ups.
Tip #3 – Look for People Interacting
Action makes great images, and interaction between people makes great images. Look for interaction between team mates, between one team and the other, between coach and players, and particularly between referees and coaches. Tip number 3, look for people interacting.
Tip #4 – The Bench is a Great Source of Images
You may not always think to look to the bench, but ironically this is where you’ll find a lot of players. And where you find players you find interaction, communication and emotion. Take time to shoot the emotions you find on the bench.
Tip #5 – Shoot Close Up Details
My final tip is to shoot what a spectator can’t see from the stands – the close up details. It might be a player lacing up their shoes, the facial expressions in a timeout, or the moment before a free throw is attempted. Zoom in to see what a spectator can’t see – shoot the close up details.
Thanks for reading 5 tips for photographing basketball. Happy shooting.
Last week I was photographing a major gymnastics competition, the Gymnastics World Cup competition held in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve shot a fair amount of gymnastics in the last year – from recreational gymnasts through to some of the world’s best. Here are 5 thoughts from photographing a major gymnastics competition.
Thought #1 – Subject Matter Matters
Photographing a World Cup event is very different than shooting recreational gymnasts at the local club. The strength, flexibility, and balance of the top gymnasts is quite amazing and leads to unique images that can’t be produced with less capable athletes. So, thought number one from photographing a major gymnastics competition is that subject matter matters. If you want to shoot really unique images, it helps to start with subjects who can do unique things.
Thought #2 – Be Different
In the women’s beam competition there were 9 photographers located to the right and back of the image above. They were literally on top of each other shooting the same subject from the same angle (I took a photo of them to amuse myself). While there is an argument that there is a “best position” to photograph each apparatus, be brave enough to be different. I stood on the opposite side of the floor. It meant I didn’t have a great shot of the women’s beam competition, but I was the only photographer shooting the men’s vault. Vault is difficult to shoot so many photographers decided not to. I like the opportunity to shoot unique images. Be brave. Be different.
Thought #3 – Look for Bold Colors
Gymnasts wear unique clothing for their competitions. They range from simple all black or all white, through to multi colored and patterned designs. Looks for bold colors to help create strong images. Particularly look for reds and blues. Bold colors will help your images stand out.
Thought #4 Shoot a Range of Apparatus
At some gymnastics events there are multiple apparatus going at one time. In that case you have to choose which one to shoot, or get lucky and find a position where you can shoot multiple apparatus from one location. At this event, there were only 2 apparatus operating at one time. That made it easy to make sure you created variety in your images by shooting different activity. It reminded me to shoot a range of apparatus so your images don’t all look the same. That’s thought number 4 from photographing a major gymnastics competition.
Thought #5 Interesting Images Aren’t Only of Competitors
At a big sporting event there are lots of people and lots of activity. There are many compelling images waiting to be made from people other than competitors. Keep an eye out for judges, coaches, spectators, and other people involved in the event but not directly competing. Shooting these images well will guarantee you produce unique content.
If you’d like more tips on shooting gymnastics please see:
Last month we photographed the Southern Peninsula Junior Basketball Tournament. It is an annual tournament held in November just before the start of the rep basketball season. This year the tournament featured 440 teams and was held at 14 stadiums and 34 courts around the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Those numbers speak for themselves – it is a very popular tournament with over 4000 players participating.
What were we photographing?
This year we photographed the under 12 division. We were shooting action portraits as the players competed. (Ironically the photo below is from the one under 14 game we photographed!)
Low light and fast action was a challenge
My understanding is that this is the first time the tournament has partnered with a professional photography business. The under 12’s featured 107 teams and over 1000 players. It was quite a challenge photographing 1000 junior basketball players.
How did we manage that?
We had 6 photographers across multiple venues on the Saturday and Sunday of the tournament. We aimed to shoot each team at least once, and photographed 70 games over the 2 days. That resulted in close to 10,000 action portraits featuring everything from young players new to representative basketball, through to some of the best under 12 players in the state.
Behind that was a lot of planning and scheduling about which photographers needs to be at what location shooting which game. I won’t sugar coat this – the planning was a very significant logistical challenge.
How was the lighting in the stadiums?
Tournament play was on 34 courts in 14 different stadiums. Some stadiums are new and well lit while, on the other hand, others are 30+ years old with no natural light.
We were aiming to shoot at 1/1000s to freeze the action. To achieve that we were shooting at high ISO – up to ISO8000 in one very dark stadium. It is amazing that today’s modern cameras can shoot fast moving action in this environment.
The wrap up
It was fun to see the kids in action, and a thrill to see them excited about the photos. Prints and digital downloads are available to order through password protected online galleries. The galleries are open for another 2 weeks and already it is a nice surprise to see how how popular prints are. I’ll save more of that for another Beyond Here post. Hooray for prints!
It was great to work with a strong team of photographers and reassures me that we can tackle bigger sporting events in the new year.
Thanks for reading ‘Photographing 1000 Junior Basketball Players’.
Later this month I will be shooting a large junior basketball tournament. It’s run over a weekend and is very popular tournament. The dates are the week before the representative basketball season starts making it an ideal preparation for the season ahead. I’ve been looking for several photographers to help across one or both days. This hasn’t been a smooth process! So, for all the photographers out there, here are some suggestions when applying for photography work.
Be Clear on Dates and Availability
I posted a job ad on Starnow outlining that I am looking for sports photographers. It clearly outlines the dates of the job, yet I have had some photographers apply without being available for the specific dates. It isn’t much good applying for a job when you are not available. Check dates and availability before you apply to avoid wasting time.
Respond to the Specific Requirements of the Job
For this shoot, photographers will need to provide their own equipment. I want to know that the photographers are using camera bodies and lenses which can produce good quality images in indoor stadiums. To all the applicants credit, they have all outlined the equipment they will use. That has reassured me they are using equipment which has the capacity to produce the quality needed.
Be Ready for Photography Job Opportunities
This job is photographing players under the age of 18. For that reason I’ve advised that photographers will need to have a current Victorian Working with Children Card. I’m really surprised that some photographers don’t have one, and yet still apply for the role. I’ve responded to them immediately advising that they can’t be considered for the role without one.
I also ask that photographers have their own public liability insurance. If something goes wrong they won’t be covered by my insurance. Again, there are people applying for the role without insurance. You will struggle to convince me that you are a professional photographer operating a business without insurance.
If you want to get regular photography work, have the basics in place – insurance and working with children permits are important. Having them will open up many more opportunities for you. Go ahead and get them in place.
Provide Links to Previous Work
Several of the applicants would like to get into sports photography or have done a small amount of similar work. That’s not what I’m after for this job. I need people who I know can do the job, because they have done it plenty of times before. If you want to immediately establish your credibility, and reassure the job poster that you can do the job, provide a link to an online portfolio of related work.
If you have relevant experience be sure to mention it in your application
With a job which is two weeks away, it’s in everyone’s interest to communicate quickly and clearly. If an applicant doesn’t respond for several days, I will assume they are not very interested in the job. On the other hand, if they respond very promptly and make themselves available for a face to face meeting in the near term, that demonstrates a level of commitment and a willingness to take on the work. Respond promptly. It will impress the job poster and make organizing the job easier.
At this event, the photographers will be representing themselves and also my business. I want to know they will treat the players, officials, and spectators appropriately. That will include displaying a high level of professionalism. It won’t help your credibility if your communication is unprofessional from the outset, so take the time to make sure all of your communication is professional.
Outline Relevant Background
There are not a lot of photographers out there who have shot lots of junior basketball. That said, it is worthwhile outlining other relevant background. For this type of job, if you have photographed other fast moving indoor sports that is worth mentioning. If you have played and watched a lot of basketball, that is worth mentioning too. Both elements would increase my level of confidence that the photographer can do the job with minimal supervision.
Thanks for reading Suggestions When Applying for Photography Work. I hope it is helpful to you. If you happen to be in Melbourne, Australia and would like to shoot some basketball later this month, please make contact!
I often get asked about secrets or insights to running successful photography businesses. I’m not sure there really are any secrets, so I’ve called this post thoughts on successful photography businesses.
For the State Champs we’ll be back at the same venue as Winterfest
This week I had a reminder of 3 things that are important in running successful photography businesses. The reminders came about after I was asked to shoot the cheer leading and dance Victorian State Championships in 2 weeks time. I have written two posts earlier about my experience shooting a large cheer leading and dance competition. You can read about those here:
So what are those three thoughts on successful photography businesses?
Thought #1 – Happy Customers are Key
I apologize for the simplicity of thought #1! That said, it is worth repeating and digesting – happy customers are key. I do all I can to make sure my customers are happy as that will lead to referrals and other business opportunities. Most times it is easy to make customers happy. The real test is when things go wrong. In that case I’ll do everything possible to put it right, even if it means I lose money on that job.
The opportunity to shoot cheer leading came from doing a good job shooting gymnastics
In this case my ‘customer’ was the national sports photography business I was shooting for. I knew that they needed good, reliable photographers in Melbourne. Doing a good job at the first event I shot for them has lead to a follow up job.
Thought #2 – Repeat Business is Important
Happy customers leads to referrals and also to repeat business. Again, in this scenario, the national sports photography business have multiple events in multiple locations all year round. As it happens, the State Champs are being held at the very same venue as the event I shot with them a few months ago. This will make this job relatively straight forward and definitely low stress.
I know the people I’ll be working with, the venue we are shooting at, and the sport we are covering. That’s the beauty of repeat business. From the national sports photography business point of view, they know I’ll do a good job and will be reliable. Win win.
At the State Champs I’ll aim to take some phone shots which aren’t quite so blurry!
Do you have repeat business opportunities? Can you create some by following up with some of your happy customers?
Thought #3 – Relationships and Communication Drive Everything
Behind the national sports photography business are people. (Amazing insight isn’t it!) In this case I was able to connect with the owner of the business at the first event and strike up a good relationship. She lives in a different state, and since then all our communication has been via email. She is easy to deal with and a good communicator. I try to be the same in return. It is good for both of our businesses to work on relationships and communication. So, it’s more than just being a good photographer, it’s important to be a good partner. Relationships and communication facilitate that.
No genius insights this week – just reminders of good business practices. Thanks for reading thoughts on successful photography businesses.