Documenting Game Day


If there’s one genre of photography that I find most challenging it’s action photography. For some reason I lack the quick reflexes and focus needed to capture the drama which unfolds on the court, field or in the water. However, summer is just a few weeks away and my daughter is signed up for soccer camp, so I am trying to complete a crash course in action photography in order to document her achievements.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Camera: I’m all about making do with what you have, but when it comes to snapping high action shots, a basic point-and-shoot camera really doesn’t get the job done. Sure, you may be able to capture a few decent shots with the simplistic model, but if you are serious about shooting sports photos, you will want to invest in a DSLR. Bottom line: You need a camera with a fast shutter speed and a high quality auto focus system so your shots stay in focus even when your subject is whizzing by at breakneck speeds.

Lens: Unless you have a front row seat to the action, you are going to need a lens that will allow you to zoom into your subject. Depending on the sport you are trying to capture, you might be able to get away with a 200mm lens, but if you’re shooting a subject on a large field from a bleacher seat, you will likely need something like a 400mm lens.

Focus: Quick reflexes are key when documenting high action sports. Regardless of how fast your camera’s shutter is there is an adage that says: “If you see the play, your camera missed it.” Basically, you need to practice anticipating the shot well before it happens. This can only happen if you are well acquainted with the sport you are shooting. If you don’t know the rules of the game, you won’t know what to expect or how to set-up your shots.

Related Articles:

Shooting the Perfect Portrait

Telling A Story With Your Shots

Natural Framing

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.