Sports Photography

footballSports photography is a form of documentary photography covering all types of sports. In most cases, professional sports photography is regarded as a branch of photojournalism, and it is primarily used for editorial and advertising purposes. Amateur sports photography is considered a branch of vernacular photography. Great sports photos capture not only the abilities and skills of the athletes but also the story of a particular game as well as the emotions, passions and dedication of the players and coaches.

Sports Photography Equipment

In order to take compelling sports photos, it is crucial to have proper equipment that includes a high-performance DSLR camera with the fastest shutter speed possible (crucial to capturing motion), high frame rate (typically 8 frames per second or even faster) as well as long focal length lenses or interchangeable lenses that range from 50 mm to 300 mm, depending on the specific type of sport.

The most popular cameras used by professional sports photographers include flagship DSLRs from Nikon and Canon, which have the fastest and most reliable AF options and capture frame rates. Wide aperture telephoto lenses are usually required to get as closest as possible to the action and capture compelling sports photos. For indoor sports, shorter lenses with fastest apertures are typically recommended, while for outdoor sports longer focal length lenses with slower apertures are most widely used. A monopod or tripod is generally used for stability, but it is not necessary if the photographer has VR.


Sports photos are typically shot in shutter priority mode and they can be dramatically improved when the photographer uses the AF-C (auto-focus continuous) setting, because the lens will constantly be adjusting focus in order to shoot sharp and well-exposed images even when the subjects are in motion. When using a camera that has multiple AF points, select the middle AF point and leave it, so that you do not miss key shots when changing the AF points. Lack of depth of field due to the long lenses and compression of perspective are typical features of a sports photo. High ISO speed left in auto is also essential.

Access and location are very important for those magic frames and most professional sports photographers shoot not from the stands, but from various VIP spots that have the best views of the game and are typically close to the action.