Snapping Sporting Events

March Madness is in full effect, and people around the world are hoping their favorite NCAA teams make it to the Final Four in Houston. If you are lucky (or rich) enough to score tickets to the Big Dance, then you may have a shot at documenting the action on the hardwood with your own camera.

The NCAA allows still photos to be taken during its games, but not video, unless you have proper media credentials. However, this liberal rule is not applied at every sporting venue. Teams and stadiums have the right to impose restrictions on photography to accommodate privacy concerns and players’ rights.

While there are no broad sweeping rules, the following provides some tips on how much access you will have should you decide to photograph a sporting event:


Policies for pro sports generally vary by organization; however, the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and Major League Baseball impose several restrictions on photographing games in pro venues. The leagues prohibit professional photography without pre-approved written consent. Shooters with press clearance are allowed to take photos from the sidelines, but cannot obstruct the audience’s view of the game.


Colleges and universities utilize a pro photography policy similar to those of major league organizations. The NCAA defines the base rules for photographing athletes; however, schools can amend the policy to ensure the privacy and security of their students. In most cases, spectators are allowed to photograph games, but cannot do so with professional equipment, such as pricey DSLR cameras with huge lenses, unless a media credential is obtained.

High School

In most cases fans are allowed to get near the sidelines to take photos without prior written consent. However, if you plan to publish a photo of a student that you snapped during a game, you will need to obtain parental consent.

Related Articles:

Basic Photo Tips for Digital Camera Owners

Cameras: Knowing When To Upgrade

Telling A Story With Your Shots

Natural Framing

This entry was posted in Photography Lessons by Michele Cheplic. Bookmark the permalink.
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.