7 Sports Photography tips inspired by Coach Beilein!

Photographing sports for Mgoblog is fun, Basketball is just -pardon me- over the hoop for me. Ace and David are great folks to work with...
And, I would have never guessed that the orange ball could take over my European love for real Football (aka Soccer).


The reason? Coach Beilein. Seriously, he is amazing - I am not talking much about his coaching ability - But his very active, graphic and energetic way of living the game. Pure enjoyment for a photographer! 

The season is just starting and the team does ok. It is promising but let's be honest, most of the games are not as exciting as the opposition against Texas or Virginia Tech.

I've built a very nice series of John Beilein shots! But how to share those pictures? Why not use them to share with you some of my best Sports Photographer tips? Coach, you are an inspiration for me! Thank you.


Be listening: Talk to everybody.

Either you are covering a sport competition for the first time, or you have years of career. You should always ask and listen to the other photographers. I just love spending time in the press room hearing stories. Some of the "very-old" sports photographers with cracking knees can sound like veterans but you will learn so much.

Also, when you arrive on a new setting those veterans will walk you though and help you get your mark. Each sport and each facility has their own rules! I do have several years of experience! But I never assume I know what is going on.
I always talk with the ushers, you can not know how useful they are, they know everything!


Be different: Try new ideas.

That is the most important! All the photographers have pretty much the same gear, and we all do pretty much the same things. By following the point number one, you will get ideas: Standard ideas.

Sports pictures don't have to look the same. I believe, we all have seen the two amazing (and now iconic) pictures of Usain Bolt with a slow shutter speed during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

When shooting, be original and try. Nothing is wrong trying. When I cover a sports event, I cover the basics with the standards request pictures and I always allow myself a moment of freedom where I will try new lens, techniques or angle: It often pays back: I capture something unique and different.


Be aware: Look around.
The ball is on your side, look up! The action is up, look on the side, etc.
You have to develop awareness, and it is so so so difficult. The viewfinder and the zoom lens naturally limit our field of vision. It becomes so narrowed that we probably miss other important actions.

Sometime it becomes a sort of gamble, led by our feelings we know something is going to happen on the opposite side of the pitch. Why? Because we start to know the ways the game is played, we spot some patterns, or simply because we felt that a specific actor of the game has a momentum (Good or bad actually).

Don't be always focused on the action - Follow the action to stay informed of the surrounding. In the same way, when chimping, don't be too focused on your screen or you may miss that incredible shot.


Be vocal: Tell a story.
Sports is not all about the action itself: It is about freezing the actions, the emotions, the feelings and the intensity of the instant. You have to reveal and convey a sense of joy, determination, relief, anger, defiance, revenge, sass, etc.

Those emotions make the difference from good pictures to a great image. Sometime it can be a close up on a face with a look or a smile. It could be the contrast in between two players: the defeated one and the victorious one.

The interaction in between players, fans, or coaching staff... What is in the front, in the back:
Each element in the frame will reveal the story and make for a powerful and iconic imagery.


Be close: In the action.
Probably the obvious one: You want to feel the spectator transported in the action. Of course the gear helps you to get closer, but it is not all about the focal length you are using.

It is more about the right length rather than the bigger. I will never forget that I brought way too big of a lens to cover my very first basketball game.

If you are too close you might lose the essence of the action. It is a very hard balance in between to close and not enough. Cropping? All the sports photographers crop!

Don't forget that your position on the field and the angle of your picture will also carry the spectator in the action. The foreground, the background are elements that will give a scale of the action: When a player jumps and grabs the basket rim, we know how high he jumped.


Be all around: The other elements!
Show the stands full of cheering fans, the tailgating outside the game, that kiddo in his grand-mother's lap in Maize and Blue... Or Coach Beilein!

Capturing the surroundings is a way to grasp the spirit of the game that is much more than action itself. Opportunities await at each corner of the event.
Don't forget to capture the celebration, to climb the stands and find a unique face of the sport.

You remember the ushers on the first point? They will let you take a short cut or even tip you if the family of a player is here (And so a VIP! We can't know everything). 


Be invested: Do your homework.
The last point and the easiest one. Go online and look for videos and photography of the sport you want to capture. Get inspired, understand the spirit, become closer to the game itself. 

Play it with friends! It sounds like sweet homework, don't you think?

Never stop shooting and be you. Will you capture that amazing picture? I don't know. I always have fun when photographing sports. It is a passion that motivates and drives me in my work.

Have fun and keep on shooting


Marc-Gregor Campredon