Your Quick Guide to Sports Photography and Videography

May 27th, 2024  |  by amaliehluthra

Your Quick Guide to Sports Photography and Videography

Content creation, as you well know, encompasses a broad range of specialisms. One of the most fervent in today’s digitally-driven era is videography and photography, with creators rightfully recognising the value that visual content has in this day and age. While virtual and AI-led production is evidently evolving, there is a case to be made for savouring genuine, authentic, human reactions and very few media can do that as eloquently and evocatively as videography or photography.

Sports Events in 2024: Ripe for Capturing Moments in Time

Whether you're a professional, experienced videographer with multiple client projects under your belt, an amateur photography enthusiast just looking for your first big break, or sitting somewhere in between, capturing those candid, emotive moments in time is one of videography and photography’s greatest quirks. Sporting events, in particular, make some of the most exciting and emotional rollercoasters for punters and athletes alike. 

This summer is shaping up to be full of emotional and captivating sporting events, with the European Football Championships in Germany, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in France, the Men’s and Women’s T20 Cricket World Cups in the U.S and West Indies, Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the Men’s and Women’s Open golf tournaments, to name just a few. 

Capturing the thrill, excitement, heartbreak, near misses and photo-finish moments can be a rewarding but challenging endeavour if you’re a blossoming content creator with a passion and enthusiasm for sport. The roar of a passionate football crowd after a goal, the athletic intensity of long-distance runners nearing the finish line, those precious seconds of anticipation reading a golf green with huge stakes riding on the stroke, are just a few of the key moments in any sporting event which offer creators the chance to capture visuals and emotion to savour, cherish, and look back on fondly.

The beauty is that for novice or experienced photographers or videographers preparing for a busy summer building their sports portfolios, it doesn’t require huge technical knowledge, specialist equipment, or expert strategies. If you want to capture precious moments that elevate your sports photography or videography game, all you need is some practical tips and techniques. 

How to Improve Your Sports Photography and Videography Shots

1. Understand the Specific Sport(s)

Before even picking up your camera or pressing ‘record’, it helps significantly to have a solid grasp of the sport(s) you will be capturing. Understand the flow of play or when emotions are likely to run higher. Throughout any event, there are likely to be plateauing periods while ‌ anticipation will usually peak at certain points. Knowledge of a typical game or competition will help you anticipate critical moments and position yourself to get the best possible shots.

2. Scout the Venue(s)

If possible, visit the venues before the event to scout potential shooting locations and angles. These may be out of your control and you may only be allocated certain positions. However, if you have the freedom to move throughout a premises, identify areas with good lighting, clear sightlines, and interesting backdrops to create depth to your shots. Be sure to obtain any relevant permits or passes to get closer to the action, although, for high-profile events, these may be competitive and hard to achieve. Be sure to research the event’s rules around photo or video content licensing and copyrights during and after the event too.

3. Gear Up 

You don’t necessarily have to spend thousands, but it’s prudent to get good equipment for the job. Photographers should consider cameras with fast autofocus systems, high frame rates, and good low-light performance, with telephoto lens attachments to get crisp close-up shots without being too ‘in your face’. Videographers will find that cameras with 4K resolution or higher, with good image stabilisation features, ensure smooth, high-quality image capture. External microphones can also improve audio quality. 

4. Master Camera Settings 

Actions in sport happen in quick bursts and moments, typically. Therefore, it pays off to master your camera settings to freeze motion and capture razor-sharp images and videos. Consider the following:

  • Shutter Speed: Aim for a speed of at least 1/500th of a second or higher to freeze motion while retaining sharp focus in photos. Shutter speeds of 1/60th or 1/120th will help prevent blur while maintaining a natural look during video capture.
  • Aperture: Use a wide aperture (f/2.8 or lower) to blur the background and isolate your subject, particularly during periods of low light. 
  • ISO: Adjust your ISO based on the natural lighting conditions. Don't be afraid to push it higher if needed, but be mindful of noise and grain.
  • Autofocus: Enable continuous autofocus mode to keep your subjects sharp as they move across the frame.

5. Tell a Story

Anticipating moments is tricky, particularly during a long event, but when you get them right, the shots can be worth their weight in gold. It can be difficult to maintain constant interest when games or matches stretch for many hours, but look for visual and non-visual clues and try to predict when play will unfold.

Remember that sports events are about more than just the game itself; they are full of a plethora of human emotions and reactions that add depth and context. Whether it’s athlete celebrations or moments of realisation, feelings of anger, frustration, elation, or concern on their faces (or the coaches and fans), pre-game rituals, general energy throughout the stadium, or in post-match interviews and celebrations, they are all crucial for telling your visual story. 

6. Learn Which Camera Angles add Intrigue

Experiment with different camera angles and perspectives to add variety and visual interest to your shots. High-angle shots create drama and emphasise size, while elevated positions give you a broader, more comprehensive view of the action. Test different creative framing and compositions to capture more unique perspectives that set your work apart from other creators or photojournalists documenting the event(s).

7. Edit and Enhance

Post-production is where you can truly bring your sports visuals to life. For photography, use reputable editing software to adjust exposure, contrast, and colour grading to create a cohesive, impactful look. Consider adding special effects like motion blur or light trails to emphasise the speed and sense of movement and energy.

For videography, utilise video editing tools to bring together your best clips, adjust colour and audio levels, and incorporate slow-motion effects or replays of key moments. Adding graphics, titles, and a soundtrack can further enhance the overall viewing experience. 

To truly elevate your sports visuals, consider incorporating royalty-free music that complements the energy and emotion of your shots. Filmstro offers a vast library of cinematic music tracks and sound effects that can seamlessly integrate with your diverse sports content, adding a layer of professionalism and pazazz. 

It’s clear that sports photography and videography don’t require you to be a maestro; it takes practice, patience, and a genuine passion for capturing the thrill of athletic competition. Consider these tips and hone your skills during smaller-scale events to create compelling visual stories that immerse viewers into the heart of the action. Develop your own unique approach that works best for you and before long, your portfolio will shine with sports visuals that captivate viewers as if they were there live.

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