"Sports do not build character. They reveal it." -John Wooden

Serena Williams. Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. Tom Brady. Michael Phelps. Wayne Rooney. Mia Hamm. Wayne Gretzky.

Athletes that have pushed their limits to perform at the highest level, overcome adversity, and achieve greatness are worthy of particular admiration. 

Although many individuals do not have the opportunity to watch sporting events at official sports venues, media and broadcasting outlets have made it possible to review highlights of famous plays on live television or through reading magazine articles.

To make essential sports accessible to all, journalists and photographers work hard to document all the thrilling action experienced at a live event. 

For the sake of today's article, we will focus on the hardworking efforts of sports photographers.

What does sports photography entail? 

Sports photographers make a career out of taking pictures of athletes and sports teams at sporting events; they may work freelance and sell their photographs or be hired by a specific sports team as an official photographer.

We will now consider how inspiring sports photographers can make a successful career for themselves. So, on your marks, get set, go!

Career Opportunities as a Sports Photographer

the best ideas
Writing a sports photography-based blog is a wonderful idea to attract future clients. (Source: pixabay)

Sports photographers combine their love of the game with their adoration of photography. They are always in the middle of all the action ready to capture the most exciting moments of the game at play.

Nevertheless, sports photography can be very competitive and quite challenging to break into. However, nothing worthwhile comes easily; necessary sacrifices and constant dedication ensure a fulfilling career with plenty of picture taking!

Without further ado, the following are some recommended steps to find continuous work as a photographer:

  • Learn the Rules of the Game: an aspiring sports photographer needs to understand the sport to get the million-dollar shots. Therefore, it is essential to become familiar with the rules, the timing, and the unique characteristics of the players themselves. For example, during an American Football game, it would be wise to set up camp near the endzone where all the action occurs.
  • Become a Photography Student: by taking different photography classes, amateurs gradually learn the basics of sports photography and can successfully keep up with all the trends. Also, it is worth mentioning that by attending photography lessons, networking is made more comfortable since it is possible to make contacts with influential people in the industry.
  • Volunteer: if you have no previous experience and no photos to include in your portfolio, try volunteering at sports events in your local community. What type of sports event? Youth football games or college basketball tournaments. Remember that it is crucial to ask the permission of coaches and parents. However, let's be honest, which parent or sports captain wouldn't want free pictures of their child or student scoring a goal?
  • Start an Interactive Blog: by starting a photography blog on sites such as WordPress, Tumblr, or FotoJournal, you will effectively showcase your portfolio and attract potential clients at the same time. Why is a blog better than a typical website? A blog tends to have better SEO success than a site since the content is fresh and frequently updated.
  • Apply for Jobs: don't be afraid, put yourself out there! By browsing the websites of your favourite media outlets, you are entirely aware of any potential job openings. What if you don't find any job positions? Look up the email addresses of photography directors and send them a friendly yet professional email with examples of your work.
  • Learn How to Edit: if you want to work as a professional sports photographer in the 21st century, you need to know how to edit the pictures you take. Becoming familiar with popular photo editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom will significantly enhance the quality of your images and help ensure some of the best jobs in the business.

Do you really want a lucrative career in sports photography? Well, start working hard and follow the previously stated tips. Remember, greatness is only possible through determination and diligence. 

What about portrait photography?

Necessary Photography Gear for Game Day

photography lessons
With a monopod, it is much easier to move around and take pictures from different points of the sidelines. (Source: Unsplash)

Can I use any old camera to take professional-looking sports pictures? Do I need to invest in expensive equipment before my first professional sports shoot?

It is true that raw talent and acquired skills are worth more than fine gold; however, in sports photography, it is necessary to invest in the right equipment to take masterful pictures. 

What photography gear do I need to specialise as a sports photographer? 

Without further delay, the following are necessary items to purchase to increase your game as a sports photographer:

  • The Camera: you've probably already come to the conclusion that your smartphone camera isn't going to take the most professional pictures. Consequently, investing your hard-earned cash in purchasing a quality digital camera such as a DSLR or mirrorless camera will ensure professional-level images. A DSLR is a quality option for beginners since it takes good pictures, it's easy to change lenses, and it's incredibly affordable. DSLRs cost between £300 and £3,000. What about mirrorless cameras? After a few years of experience as a sports photographer, it would be a brilliant decision to purchase a mirrorless digital camera since they have the best clarity and focus speeds on the market. Mirrorless camera prices range from £500 to £5,000.
  • The Lenses: average cameras usually come with a lens kit; however, it is essential to state that these lens kits will not be sufficient for taking sports photographs during games that take place at night. Why's that? They don't have a wide enough aperture. A lens that consistently takes in the most amount of light is highly recommended. How do I know if my camera lens has a wide aperture? A low "f" number is usually associated with the aperture. Also, a telephoto lens that's 200 or 300mm is necessary to take good shots when you are far away from the action.
  • Invest in SD cards: there is nothing more embarrassing or career ruining than running out of memory at a big game. Therefore, it's a good idea to have one memory card in your camera and at least another memory card in each camera bag. How much space should my memory cards store? Look for memory cards with a minimum of 32GB of storage; although the more, the merrier!
  • Monopods Over Tripods: the majority of sporting events last two or three hours, and sometimes more, so it is inevitable to use some sort of assistance to uphold your heavy camera and lens not to get too tired. But why should I purchase a monopod instead of a tripod? A tripod is a beautiful camera holding device; however, it can be quite bulky to carry around with you as you navigate different parts of the field. What should I look for in a good-quality monopod? Monopods should be strong and stable, adjustable, feature twist-locks, have a fixed rounded foot, and feature a tight grip. We recommend using the Manfrotto XPRO 5-Section Monopod.

Purchasing the previously mentioned items does not have to be done all at once. Acquiring professional equipment is expensive, and money won't necessarily be flowing in during the beginning; therefore, buy the necessary gear slowly but surely as you continually get new jobs.

Fashion photography, wildlife photography, and wedding photography are also very popular domains.

Indispensable Tips to Becoming a Better Photographer

hanging around with your camera
By keeping your camera near, you constantly are practising new photography skills. (Source: Unsplash)

Most people begin with photography as a hobby. Nevertheless, after some time, they realise that their passion can become a lucrative and enjoyable career. 

It is vital to mention that becoming a professional photographer does not happen overnight; time, effort, and helpful advice from more experienced individuals aid photography amateurs to hone their skills. And, let's be honest, when someone begins to take something seriously, they want to do their best.

What is some helpful advice to get better at photography?

The following are some of the best tips and tricks to apply and eventually get better at taking magnificent pictures:

  • Educate Yourself: becoming a better photographer requires education. How do I educate myself? Consider dedicating time every day to read informative books, scan through articles on reputable photography-based sites, and watch Youtube videos. How long should I spend a day doing this? Spend about 10-15 minutes, advancing your photography knowledge and skills.
  • Carry Camera With You: invest in purchasing a camera strap that is comfortable, convenient, and durable that makes carrying your camera around easy. By having your camera with you at all times, your photography skills drastically improve since you are spending a lot of time dedicated to the art form.
  • Keep Things Fresh: while it may be true that your niche is taking pictures of landscapes or people, it is vital to mix things up and try expanding your horizons. By trying new genres of photography, you will feel challenged, and this will help you apply what you've learnt to entirely different situations. As a photographer, you will consistently learn new things so you might as well make it enjoyable!

Becoming a sports photographer is a wonderfully rewarding career that combines a person's passion for photography with their love of sports. I mean, who wouldn't want to be right in the action taking impressive photographs of their favourite athletes?

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