Photographing Your Kids’ Sports
Gosh, they’ve grown quickly, haven’t they? From cruising in the playpen to romping around the backyard, you’ve documented hundreds of endearing moments of discovery and playtime. And now, they’re sprinting up and down soccer fields, racing up and down the swimming pool or swinging a wooden bat with all their might.
Photographing kids’ sports is a fun endeavor. If your kids are like mine, they can’t wait to see themselves in action. So, here are a few easy tips for capturing your kids’ best athletic moments.
Put your camera in sports mode – it’s usually the Running Person on the main dial of your DSLR. This will automatically set the shutter speed high to freeze the action.
Alternatively, you could use the semi-auto mode for shutter priority (Tv on the main dial) so you can set the shutter speed where you like it – I usually use 1/1000 of a second but you could go as low as 1/500. The camera will figure out the appropriate aperture and ISO to achieve the correct exposure. Take a few shots and check if you’ve sufficiently frozen the action. If not, just keep dialing up the shutter speed.
Because there’s a lot of action, you should keep your camera on continuous or burst mode. Several frames will be taken when you press the shutter so that you have a better chance of capturing the right moment(s).
I’m often asked what the best lens is for photographing sports and honestly, it really depends on the sport and how close you can get to the action. I mostly photograph soccer and field hockey games right now so I prefer my 100mm-400mm lens. However, my 70mm-200mm has worked well for those shots along the sideline or across the shorter width of the field. I’ve also used my 70mm-200mm standing outside of the arena for my daughters’ horse shows.
Know where your light is coming from so you can decide where to best position yourself. On bright sunny days, it’s easy to light up your subject by making sure that the players are facing the light (sun). This light can be harsh, causing stark contrasts of light and shadow on your players’ faces. Sometimes this works well with the drama of the action and sometimes, you’d like to see more of the tense facial expression. This is a creative choice; so see what works for the images you’re creating.
Or take a different approach and make sure the light is behind the players. This could result in images with a bit of rim light around the player as well as more even lighting across the player’s body and face.
As the light starts fading in the late afternoons, you’ll need more light on the players. Try bumping up the ISO or using a flash.
A clean, uncluttered background will really make your player stand out in the photo. So, take a look at what’s in the background of your shots and change your position if necessary. If this isn’t possible because you’re at a very busy venue, as for most soccer tournaments, you could blur the background by using a wider aperture – set your main dial to Av (aperture priority) and try f/4 or f/5.6. The camera will set the shutter speed and ISO for the correct exposure.
Patience and Anticipation
It really helps to know the sport so that you can anticipate the action. For example, in soccer, when you know that the player is about to kick the ball, press the shutter release all the way down just before the ball is kicked. This way, you’ll be sure to capture the player kicking the ball with the ball still in the frame.
Action and Composition
The most interesting sports action shots are when the player is facing straight toward the camera with the ball in the frame. At soccer games, my favorite spot to stand is along the end line on one side of the goal. Here, I wait for the action to come to me as the plays are designed to bring the ball toward the goal.
Filling the frame with the player’s body is always a great individual action shot. In addition, the “rule of thirds” applies to action shots, probably even more so. Try to make sure that if you’re photographing kids fighting for the ball, place them just off center in the frame.
Take a LOT of Photos…More Than You Think You Need
I usually take a storyteller approach to my daughters’ games. So, I’m also looking for more than just shots of kids playing the game. Here are some ideas:
– The team in a huddle or just when they run onto the field;
– Close-ups of kids’ tense expressions as they meet at halftime;
– The scoreboard;
– The dejection or elation on the kids’ faces after the game is over.
Of course, when your camera is set on burst mode, you’ll naturally end up with a lot of photos from which you can choose your favorites.
Good luck and enjoy it! Remember kids’ sports are all about the fun of the game.
napcp contributor meet Linda De Los Reyes
About the Contributor: Linda is a baby & childrens photographer based in Los Gatos, CA, specializing in lifestyle portraits. She loves that as a photographer, she gets to let her inner-home-decorator out when she helps her clients create photo galleries for their homes.
New in the NAPCP Store – Holiday Postcard PackWe’re hustlin’ for the holidays and having the BEST time with our seasonal marketing, with these holiday marketing postcard pack designs! There’s a lot of love in the NAPCP Member Community for these beautiful Artifact Uprising postcards. We feel it, and it is so special to see this community come together to share their ideas […]
A Colorful Family Session at Coney IslandInspiration I’m always inspired by the real stories of my families, and my images are an attempt to showcase their unique connection and genuine beauty. This family has chosen adventure to be a central quality of their life together, and are embracing travel with their young daughter and sharing their experiences at dearestdays.com. They wanted […]
What’s in Her Bag: Marisa McDonaldTell us a little about what’s inside your bag. I love my Jo Totes Missy Mint bag! It has custom dividers so I can create perfectly sized sections for my camera and lenses, external pockets, and even a laptop sleeve! My bag pretty much always has a camera (lately, my new Mark IV!), my Sigma […]
#NAPCPColors Round-UpWe rounded up a few of our favorite #NAPCPColors Instagram submissions to kick off our week with a colorful bang! We’re so happy all of our Instagram followers and friends had such a wonderful time participating in this new project, on one of our favorite social media platforms. Julie Campbell Photography Paul Douglas Studio Sandi […]
We are so delighted that you are here. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is an association whose mission is to promote and support the artistry and integrity of professional child photographers. To accomplish this mission, NAPCP provides the most comprehensive resources for its members, bringing together a community of passionate artists committed to growth in their skills, their artistry, and their businesses.
NAPCP.com (formally pronounced "NAP-C-P") is a place where professional child photographers can come and connect, learn, teach, aspire and grow. It is also a valuable resource for parents who are looking for a professional child photographer in their area, and want to be inspired and educated about our specialized industry.
September Inspired Magazine: Featuring K.C. Crow!
Click here to read our September magazine featuring K.C. Crow! Don’t forget, Inspired is now printable! Print your copy straight from MagCloud, and share your favorite pieces with friends, family and clients. Save Save Save
Announcing Our Second Half 2017 NAPCP International Image Competition Winners!
Hello friends! After much excitement and anticipation, we are absolutely thrilled to announce the winners of our Second Half 2017 NAPCP International Image Competition. Uniquely focused on child photography, the NAPCP International Image Competition features a range of image categories, including Babies, Newborn, Children, Family, Maternity, Siblings, Toddlers, and Seniors. Thank you to our amazing […]
August Inspired Magazine: Featuring Amy Tripple!
Click here to read our August magazine featuring Amy Tripple! Don’t forget, Inspired is now printable! Print your copy straight from MagCloud, and share your favorite pieces with friends, family and clients. Save Save
Free Custom Wallpaper: Shoot. Edit. Share. Repeat.
Free Custom Wallpaper — Competition season is here and today we want to share this free custom wallpaper with you, to download! Download and use this wallpaper for your own personal use. Set it as your device wallpaper or share it via social media. Scroll down for clickable download buttons at the bottom of this […]
The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com