Shooting Sports Photography: Tips on How to Stop Action

Professional sports photographers spend big bucks to get the equipment necessary for amazing shots. But you can still move to a whole new world of sports photography just by employing the following advice:

Use a fast shutter speed.


Speedy fast. I assume if you’re shooting sports you want to catch action. If you can, use a shutter speed of at least 1/500 sec. You’ll get better results if you shoot at 1/1000. If you want some blur to show motion, slow the shutter speed down. Just make sure it looks intentional and not like you just don’t know what you’re doing.

Choose the best sports photography lens.

That is, choose a fast lens and shoot wide-open. You’ll pretty much have to do this if you’re indoors so that you can have the lightning fast shutter speed you want. Also, shallow depth-of-field is a nice affect for sports shots.



In a fast-moving situation, do you know where the action is moving to? Focus on that spot so when the action is there, you’re prepared. Do this by using auto-focus and holding the shutter release button half-way down to focus. Then switch your lens to manual mode and leave the focus alone. When the action reaches that spot, aim and shoot.

Know the game.


If you don’t know the sport, you won’t know where the action is moving to – where you’ll get your money shot. If two guys shoot the same game with the same photographic knowledge and equipment, the one who knows the game will likely get much better shots than the other guy.

Choose burst mode.

Use your camera’s user’s guide to find how to switch to this continuous shooting mode. Then all you have to do is the hold the shutter button down and your camera will keep shooting. (This is one of those times when digital is way cheaper than film)! Shooting this way is great when play is in motion. Once again, a way to help get the money shot.

Give your athlete somewhere to move.


If the athlete is running, compose so is looks like she’ll run across the frame. It’s part of the story. Don’t have her running out of the frame – that’s awkward and uncomfortable.

Frame your subject vertically.


It’s a simple way to fill the frame. If you have several athletes in your frame or your showing motion, you may want to disregard this advice.

Remember facial expressions.


Remember that facial expressions tell the story. Zoom in and get the athlete’s face. A picture of a soccer player’s intense face is much more powerful than a picture of just his foot kicking the ball.

Shoot in JPEG Format rather than RAW.

Since you’ll want to take a lot of pictures, shoot in JPEG format rather than RAW. It takes up less space on your card so you can fit more. Bonus: JPEGs write faster so you can keep shooting and not miss the action.

Shoot Much and Shoot Fast.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: shoot a lot and shoot quickly!

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