10 Tips for Better Sports Photos and Footage

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© Andrey Yurlov/Shutterstock

Sports photos and video clips, especially those that show the raw energy of the game, are popular with Shutterstock customers. Getting these shots requires skill and preparation, but the payoff can be worth it. Spring is a great time to visit your local field or court and start shooting sports.

Commercial use, model-released content of athletes and sport teams in action are in high demand. Pictures of athletes in action –kicking a soccer ball or shooting a basketball — are more commercially viable than images of athletes posing with sports equipment.

It’s important to obtain model releases for all recognizable people. To find athletes to shoot, think about local community teams in your own neighborhood, or even family events. Additionally, you can signify the concept of a ‘team’ by any number of athletes more than one — even just two or three people playing a sport.

Major league sporting events are only acceptable as editorial photographs, and cannot be accepted as commercial.

Here are ten more tips for a successful sports shoot.

1. Shoot all sorts of activities before and after the game to maximize your shoot. Driving to the game, clearing the field, purchasing concessions, and crowds in stands are all good subjects.

2. Team up with a friend and cover opposite ends of the field or court. That way, you’ll get the shot regardless of who scores. At the same time, vary your shots by shifting perspective.

3. Shoot wide enough to frame multiple persons, full body, provided you are on the court. Of course, know your boundaries and never interfere with the game.

4. Be respectful of the athletes and understand that some may not wish to sign releases. Prioritize getting the best shot over keeping people out of frame, since you may be able to remove or obscure un-released athletes in post.

5. Do your research and identify the important players and coaches. This will help you capture the team dynamic throughout the game.

6. Since every sport is different, learn the rules of the game and make a shot list of events in order of occurrence and importance. (For instance, in baseball, a player sliding into home plate is more important than a player reaching first.)

7. Focus on action during the game, and extra color before and after. Happy fans? Can take it later. The winning goal? Have to capture as it happens.

8. Experiment with shutter speed. Slow motion footage is in high demand and sports offer a great opportunity to execute this technique.

9. Note that major and minor league sport logos are protected by trademark, and thus unacceptable for commercial use (MLB, NBA, NFL, PGA, MLS etc.). Also note that it is in your best interest to obtain a property release.

10. Can’t get permission to shoot the game? Schedule a separate session with the players rather than hiring professional models. Shoot in a backyard, public park, or even a school gym after hours.

Related:See a video of how Shutterstock contributor Image Source conducts a complex sports shoot.

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