Sports Photography Guide— 12 Tips to Get Started

It might be difficult to capture dynamic photos of moving subjects during sports events without loads of experience. Unless you use the right settings and photography gear, you might get unfocused shots with a blurry background. Read the sports photography tips below to find out how to take great photos of athletes. We will explain what settings it’s better to use and how to take perfectly clear shots.

1. Shoot in Manual or Semi-Manual Mode

sports photography manualmode

Many beginner photographers who are asking themselves: “What is sports photography?” think that it will suffice to use the Sports or Action mode on their camera to take pics of athletes. However, while it might help you to snap some decent pics, it will not be enough for taking professional photos. It’s better to learn how to shoot pictures using other available camera modes, such as Aperture-Priority and Manual.

Regardless of the settings you use for taking sports photos, you need to edit them to make them more attention-grabbing. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can entrust this task to professionals instead of spending hours on processing your photos. Our experts will help you tweak colors, remove imperfections, replace the background, and perform a range of photo manipulations to give your photos a creative feel.

2. Increase Your Shutter Speed

sports photography shutter speed

When taking sports images, the main thing you should focus on is shutter speed. By using a high shutter speed, you can take perfectly exposed photos and capture moving athletes. For this purpose, it’s better to use the shutter speed ranging from 1/500s to 1/2000s.

If your subject moves quickly, use a higher shutter speed. While in some cases you might need to create a blur effect, in most situations, it’s better to use a high shutter speed. At the same time, you can use a lower shutter speed when implementing various swimming photography ideas. When it comes to tennis photography, a high shutter speed is a must.

3. Use Continuous Focus Mode

continuous focus mode

Another thing you should pay attention to is the way you focus on your subject. Unless you need to take blurry photos, it’s better to use a camera with a decent autofocus system. The sports photography definition is simple. It’s a specific genre that deals with different types of sports.

By using continuous focus modes, you can ensure that your subject will always remain clearly visible in the frame. Whether you specialize in running or cycling photography, you can use this mode for snapping sharp pics. If you have a Canon camera, use AI Servo AF mode. The owners of Nikon cameras may use AF-C mode.

4. Shoot with a Large Aperture

sports photography settings

When shooting at high shutter speed, you might notice that your shots look underexposed. Because of this, make sure to set your aperture to at least f/2.8 or wider. You may need to use different depth of field settings to capture a range of sports events.

Try using the f/1.4 f-stop to open the aperture wider. It will allow you to make the background blurry and focus on your subject. Such settings are often used by photographers who specialize in figure skating photography. In case you want to also capture the action in the background, you can set the aperture to f/8-11.

5. Let in More Light with Higher ISO

light with higher iso

If you increase ISO, it will allow you to implement a range of dynamic action photography ideas. Some cameras enable you to use Auto ISO mode. More experienced photographers can also experiment with adjusting the settings manually to select the best shutter speed and ISO. Try setting ISO to 1400 or 1800 and check which value works best for the event that you are trying to capture.

6. Use Burst Mode to Never Miss Good Shots

burst mode shooting

To capture quickly moving players, you can’t do without a camera that supports a burst mode. It’s a must for photographers who specialize in football photography and other types of sports. Such cameras allow you to capture more pictures in burst mode. Using this mode, you can take several pics in quick succession and select the best shots.

When waiting for the right moment, you may miss some other moments. This is why it’s recommended using burst mode when shooting action. Then, you just need to select the best shots and delete the rest.

7. Opt for a DSLR Camera

dslr camera

Make sure to buy a DSLR camera, as it enables you to adjust all the settings manually. You can select the most suitable shutter speed as well. If you are looking for a camera for sports photography, keep in mind that it should meet some requirements. It doesn’t necessarily need to have a high number of megapixels. Instead, it should allow you to capture moving subjects in detail.

The Nikon D500 is one of the best models on the market that comes with impressive AF, a well-designed body, and high continuous shooting speed of 10 fps. Besides, you will be pleased with its large camera buffer. The Canon 6D Mark II is also used by many professional sports photographers. It’s fitted with an APS-C CMOS sensor and supports a resolution of 26.2 MP. The camera is known for its impressive ergonomics. You can use it in burst mode to shoot photos at up to 10 fps. It has a great autofocus system, large battery capacity, and a weatherproof body.

8. Invest in a Zoom Lens

In case you want to become a sought-after sports photographer and shoot like a pro, you can’t do without buying zoom or telephoto lenses. It will enable you to snap great sports images even when standing far from the subject. In most cases, it will suffice to use a 200mm lens to take stunning photos. Besides, make sure to use a lens that comes with in-built image stabilization elements.

Canon releases IS lenses, Nikon manufactures VR lenses, and Sony is known for producing OS lenses. All of them are built to minimize camera vibrations and reduce camera shake. It allows you to take clear shots even in low-light situations. For instance, you may use a long lens for capturing players in the movement. Use the Canon’s 70-200mm lens for taking superb photos of sports events.

9. Do Not Use a Flash

Many people are wondering: “To get a great sports photograph, you need to do what things?” The following piece of advice will be especially useful for those to capture events that take place outside. Your camera’s flash won’t be able to reach far, which is why you won’t be able to capture what happens in the frame. You may need to come too close to use flash, which makes it hardly useful.

In professional sports, there are strict rules about flash. They were established because the camera flash might distract athletes and impact the result of the game.

10. Know the Rules of the Game

You might be asking yourself: “What is the best way to catch a particular sporting moment?” If you want to become a successful photographer, you need to learn more about the sport and its players. For instance, if you are interested in doing basketball photography, it’s important to find out more about the rules. It will help you snap more dramatic pics and capture the best moments of a game. However, even if you don’t know much, you can familiarize yourself with the rules by watching some games on TV. It will enable you to understand what you should expect.

You can also learn more about the rules by reading about them online. Thanks to it, you will better understand the succession of actions and learn what to expect when the referee starts the game. Using this knowledge, it will be easier for you to snap pics that capture the essence of the game.

11. Shoot From a Low Angle

low angle shoot

If you want to dramatically change the shooting angle, try standing on your knees. It will enable you to capture photos with an unusual background without focusing on other players and grass too much. The low shooting angle allows you to add some depth to your photos. This is why many professional photographers use this technique.

You may also buy a budget monopod for stabilizing your camera. It will come in handy even for those who use lightweight camera models. The Avella C325 58 is a perfect option for this purpose. It will help you stabilize your camera and experiment with shooting from different camera angles. This monopod is also suitable for shooting while standing on your knees.

12. Keep Your Back to the Sun

To avoid flare, make sure to stand with the sun behind your back. For instance, if you are interested in soccer photography, it’s important to ensure that players are well lit. It will allow you to capture them in detail when they come closer to you. If you notice that the light source is behind the person you want to capture, it’s better to change your position. Otherwise, you won’t be able to snap a pic with the right exposure. Besides, it might be difficult to adjust the camera settings quickly when your subject is moving.

Bonus Tools

lightroom presets for sports photography

If you want to make your photos of sports events more visually appealing without wasting a lot of time, make sure to use this bundle created by our experts. It will help you edit your pictures like a pro. Using these effects, you can quickly tweak colors and fix lighting issues to make your action photos more attention-grabbing. In this collection, you will find effects suitable for improving photos taken indoors and outdoors. The key advantage is that this bundle is suitable for photographers who specialize in different genres.