Sports photography has to be one of the most demanding types of photography.

It requires a high degree of creativity, spontaneity and energy in order to capture that single moment that can make the difference between winning and losing.

You may have to run a number of miles to get the right shot and you could be stuck in the rain or snow for hours on end.

The same goes for wildlife and bird photography, where you may have to endure long hours in a hide waiting for something or someone to move, or again could be out in all weathers waiting for your subject to appear.


sports photography TIPS

What Is sports photography?

Sports photography is the art of capturing memorable moments from sporting events.

Whether you are at a professional or amateur event, taking photos while attending a game or a match is an exciting experience.

The challenge of capturing the right moment, the right angle and the right lighting makes sports photography one of the most challenging genres around.

The thrill that comes with it is hard to match. For every photo that you take, you are hoping to get that one shot that will stand out in your memory for years to come.



What is Sports Photography?

Sports photographers are often required to shoot fast-moving subjects, so it is essential that they can manually focus quickly and accurately.

They need to understand how ISO, shutter speed and aperture work together to control exposure when shooting fast-moving objects in low light situations.

Sports photographers may also do a lot of panning shots which require them to shoot at high shutter speeds, which will require them to use a tripod and/or special panning techniques.

These shots are usually taken using telephoto lenses and using a fast shutter speed will help freeze the action.

Sports Photography Use Burst Mode

Sports photographers need to be able to capture the action of the game. This can be tricky as it is often fast paced and unpredictable.

Burst Mode feature on some cameras is ideal for capturing sports photography.

The burst mode is a setting on many digital cameras that keeps the shutter open for a short time allowing you to take multiple photos in quick succession.


The benefit of this feature comes into play when shooting sports as it allows you to capture those shots where the players are at their most active.

When using burst mode it is advisable to use Continuous Focus so that the camera will continue to focus on whatever you are pointing at, once you press down the shutter button. This is particularly useful when trying to capture sports photography with moving objects.

Here are some tips when using burst mode:

1. When taking sports photos try and anticipate what will happen next and turn your camera on burst mode before the action happens, this way you will have plenty of shots to choose from afterward.

2. Use Continuous Focus so that your camera will continue to focus on whatever you are pointing at, once you press down the shutter button.

3. When taking a group shot always make sure one person isn’t in the centre otherwise everyone will look like they’re in different places in your photo.

Sports Photography Shoot In Jpeg

The biggest advantage of shooting in jpeg is the speed and simplicity of the capture.

Tiff files can quickly grow to massive sizes and be very slow to capture. Even on a fast computer, it can take time to save and convert the files.

Jpeg files are much smaller and once captured immediately display on the LCD screen.This allows you to make quick decisions about the shot you have just taken, before moving onto the next one.

It also makes it much easier for others to view your shots instantly – no more waiting for them to load or converting them first! With a jpeg file you can also email, text or post that photo directly from your camera as soon as you have taken it.

It should be noted though that jpeg is not without its disadvantages.

The main issues are around quality and flexibility. Tiff files allow you to capture almost an infinite range of colours and tones, whereas with jpeg there is far less control over the look of an image, especially when using basic settings.

When using the least compression possible (highest quality), jpeg images can still look slightly blocky when blown up large or viewed on a large monitor at full magnification.

If you want ultimate control over your image, tiff is preferable.

Sports Photography Tweak Your Focusing

You might think that getting the right shot is about the camera settings and lighting. But an often overlooked element to take into consideration is how you focus on the subject.

When photographing fast moving subjects like sports and kids, focus can be a difficult thing to achieve. With practice, however, you can improve your odds of getting the perfect shot.

Here are some helpful tips for sports photography tweak your focusing.

First, make sure that your camera settings are all correct before you start shooting. For a fast moving subject like a child on a bike or a runner, it’s important to have your shutter speed set above 1/125th of a second.

Slower shutter speeds will result in blurry shots due to camera shake. It’s also important to remember to use burst mode or continuous shooting when taking pictures of children or athletes.

Burst mode allows you to take multiple images in rapid succession without having to manually press the shutter button each time which will help eliminate missed shots from camera shake or slow reaction times.

When taking photos of children at play, their movements can be erratic and unpredictable so it can be difficult to get sharp pictures of them.

When photographing young children, keep movements slow and steady while they’re in motion and anticipate where they’re going.

Sports Photography Use Ai-Servo To Keep Players In Focus

Good sports photography is hard, and it is often the result of spending a lot of time practicing your craft.

To get the shot, you have to be ready with your camera and anticipate what will happen next. But the action moves quickly, and if you’re not careful you might find your camera is focused on the wrong part of the field.

That’s why most sports photographers rely on an autofocus mode called Ai-Servo (or AI Servo for short).

How it works

When you’re using Ai-Servo, your camera is constantly focusing on whatever is moving in front of it, which makes it much easier to follow whatever subject you’re trying to capture. When compared to single-shot AF mode, where you have to wait for the camera to focus before taking a photo, Ai-Servo lets you capture more moments as they happen.

Low light can affect Ai-Servo performance

While Ai-Servo is great at keeping a moving subject in focus during a game or other sporting event, there are some conditions that can trip it up.

First of all, low light can make it difficult for the autofocus system to locate and lock onto a subject. 

Sports Photography Use A Telephoto Lens To Get Close To The Players

You can use a telephoto lens to get close to the action in basketball.

It will help you get a great shot of the players on court. You can also use this lens when taking photos of the audience or the stadium.

Here is how you can use it for sports photography.


When taking sports photos of an athlete, zoom in and get really close. This helps add perspective to your photo and the viewer will feel like they are sitting on the sidelines next to you. You can then take a photo from their point of view.


When taking sports photos, use a fast lens that allows you to freeze any movement that is going on in front of you.

The faster the lens, the more likely it is that you will be able to freeze any movement or action that is happening in front of you such as a baseball player swinging his bat or a football player diving for the ball.


Take your photo from an angle that is different than what everyone else is taking their photos from. 

Sports Photography Lens Recommendations

Sports photography is very difficult because of the subject’s movement. It is really hard to freeze a moment.

You need a fast lens to allow fast enough shutter speeds and you need a wide angle lens to be able to focus on the action and zoom out so you can take in everything that is happening.

These two items will cost you big money! Let me give you some recommendations on what kind of lens kit you should consider:

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens – This lens is going to run you about $1,600. It is great for sports photography and portraits

I have used this lens for many years now, and I love it! It is well worth the price, but it does cost quite a bit of money.

My 70-200 does not have image stabilization (IS), but for sports photography, you really do not need IS because your shutter speed will be fast enough to be sharp when using this lens.

This Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Lens costs about $2,300 and has both image stabilization (IS) and extremely sharp optics. 

Sports Photography Canon 200mm F/2l Is

Is your passion for sports photography? Or maybe you are an amateur who loves to capture the moments of your favorite team and upload them on Facebook and other social media sites.

But, do you know what is the best lens for sports photography? Well, there are many different kinds of lenses that you can use to shoot a game, but one of the best lenses for this purpose is Canon 200mm F/2l Is.

(Image: Canon 200mm F/2l Is)

Canon 200mm F/2l Is lens is considered as a good choice because it offers great optical performance. It has fast, constant maximum aperture and light transmission ratio.

It has the ability to produce high-quality images with good resolution, contrast and clarity.

The ISO value is correct at any time of day or night and provides high quality images even in low light conditions. The versatility of this lens makes it perfect for any kind of photography work including sports.

The result is beautiful images with good quality and sharpness.

Although this lens seems expensive at first glance, it’s worth every penny because it produces high-quality images even on the biggest stages in the world. The versatility of this lens makes it perfect for any kind of photography work including sports. 

Sports Photography Canon 135mm F/2l

When I was a young kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. This was because I was fascinated by the space program and I idolized Neil Armstrong.

But then my dad gave me a camera and everything changed. I became obsessed with taking pictures of things that move, like baseballs and hockey pucks.

In fact, I now shoot more sports than anything else. Even though my dream job never materialized, there is still no better feeling than capturing an athlete in motion.

I get asked this question all the time, “What lens should I buy for sports photography?” My answer is almost always the same: the Canon 135mm f/2L ($1,349). This is one of my favorite lenses of all time and it’s incredibly versatile.

It can shoot wide open in a pinch but also work well stopped down for sports and nature photography. The 135mm focal length makes it perfect for shooting basketball games from the sidelines but also works well for action shots from a distance at hockey games or soccer matches.

Here are some other reasons why I love this lens so much:

Wide aperture – f/2 gives you the ability to create shallow depth of field to isolate your subject in front of a blurry background.

Sports Photography Learn To Use Your Camera

Doing Sports photography can be fun and exciting. It can also be extremely challenging. Although a sports photographer has many of the same challenges as a wedding photographer, there are some key differences that all sports photographers should know.

TIP: To take great sports photos, use the biggest lens possible and take lots of shots and different angles. The more you shoot, the better your chances of getting at least one great shot.

Try to find a good angle that offers a unique perspective on the action but doesn’t obstruct your view with too many people or big objects (like goal posts).

Get as close as you possibly can to the action without getting in front of it! If you’re shooting a game that is being played inside on a basketball court, for example, stay by the sidelines instead of standing in the middle of the court where you’ll get in everyone’s way.

Don’t forget about shutter speed: You don’t want to miss that great play because you were shooting with too slow of a shutter speed and your picture came out blurry!

For sports photography, 1/500th of a second is usually considered fast enough to freeze the action while still allowing enough light into your camera to get a well exposed photo. 

Sports Photography Use A Telephoto Zoom Lens

A telephoto zoom lens is one of the most versatile lenses for sports photography. A fast, high quality zoom lens is a must have for any serious sports photographer.

You will find that a good telephoto lens is a great all around lens and can also be used for portraits, wildlife and even as a telescope.

Trying to photograph a football game when you are too far away is going to make it very difficult because the subject will be small in the frame. Therefore, you need to get closer to the action to fill the frame with your subject.

You will want to use the longest focal length of your chosen lens, which in this case would be 100-135mm. This range will allow you to fill the frame with players on the field, but still leave enough background to give context.

Make sure that you have enough working space so that you can move around and shoot from various positions without getting too close to other spectators or getting run over by players on the field.

The only real drawback of using a telephoto lens is that it won’t let you isolate your subject from the background like a wide angle would. However, you can still make it work by using the smallest aperture possible which will increase depth of field.

Sports Photography Do Not Use On-Camera Flash

Do not use on-camera flash. Seriously, don’t.

When people think of sports photography, they immediately think of the big leagues like the NFL, NBA and NHL. But sports photography is for everyone. It is for the Little League, high school, travel teams and more.

Sometimes it’s just as much about what isn’t being photographed as it is about what is being photographed.

Lighting can be pretty tough when you’re at a game or event and have limited time to compose your shots. You usually have to take what you get when it comes to light, so it’s important to use the light you do have to your advantage.

There are certain types of situations that can make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to sports photography with limited light. For example, if you can shoot with the sun at your back, facing the players while they’re in shadow, then you will have an easier time composing your shots.

The same goes for shooting under stadium lights. Shadows can be your friend in these situations because they help separate your subject from its surroundings and provide a little separation from background distractions like fans and signs.

Sports Photography Use A Wide-Angle Lens

Photographing sports and action events can be very challenging. You need to capture the action and freeze the movement.

Both can be achieved by using a wide-angle lens.

TIP: I would suggest that you use a wide-angle lens for photographing sports and action event.

A wide angle lens will allow you to capture all the action of the game in one shot. It is also essential to have a fast shutter speed so that you will be able to freeze the movement of the players on the field or court.

A wide-angle lens allows you to take in more of your surroundings, which means that you can take photographs from different angles, hence capturing different elements of the game or event in your images.

A zoom lens may not be able to capture images from all angles, so this is why you need to invest on a wide-angle lens.

Wide-angle lenses are mostly used indoors because they offer more flexibility when it comes to shooting at close range in small spaces like gymnasiums or court grounds.

Wide angle lenses are available in different focal lengths ranging from 10mm all the way up to 24mm for full frame cameras and 15mm for APS-C format cameras.

Sports Photography Look For Action Off The Field

Here are simple steps to creating a sports photography look for off-the-field action shots. This technique can be used to create action shots in any sport such as baseball, soccer, basketball, football, hockey and more.

Labeling this type of shot is “environmental” since it shows the setting in which the action takes place. For example, you might shoot a shot of a baseball player sliding into base with the dirt flying off his cleats.

The dirt and ground tell us we’re at a baseball field. Or we might shoot a shot of a soccer player kicking the ball but with the goal posts in the background giving us another clue that we’re at a soccer field.

Labels are important because they help tell your story. They can also help give your image context so that others will understand what they’re seeing even if they have no idea what sport you’re shooting.

For example, if I took an action shot of a soccer player kicking the ball but didn’t label it as such, would you know what he’s doing?

If I take an action shot of someone sliding across home plate and don’t label it as baseball, would you know what’s going on? Maybe you would identify the players by their uniforms but maybe not.

Sports Photography Analyze Your Images After The Event

The biggest mistake I see in sports photography is the misuse of flash. It’s a common problem and one that can be easily avoided by understanding how it works.

One issue is that people leave the camera on automatic, using the flash because they think they have to.

TTL (through the lens) flash metering technology has come a long way in recent years but it’s not perfect. It will only work if:

The ambient light level is low enough for the camera to calculate that the shutter speed doesn’t need to be faster than 1/60th of a second.

If the camera thinks you are hand holding it (as opposed to using a tripod or monopod).

It also means that if you use a high f-stop number like f16 or f22 your images may be underexposed because of this issue.

The alternative is to manually set your flash output level and/or adjust your aperture so that you get the exposure you want, but doing this with every image can take time and can mean missing an opportunity for a great shot.

So in situations where you’ve got plenty of time to set up your shot and don’t have to worry about missing out on opportunities, then use TTL flash metering.

Sports Photography Keep Your Back To The Sun

Lighting your subjects while shooting sports can make the difference between a good shot and a great one. The best lighting conditions occur when the sun is behind you.

This is not always possible, but if you can manage to place yourself in this position then you will have the best light.

Treat each game like a photo shoot and make sure to use the best lighting conditions whenever possible. Keep your back to the sun and let it shine on your players. Watch out for shadows that players cast on other players.

If you are forced to photograph with the sun in front of you, then it’s best to use an off-camera flash or reflector to prevent harsh shadows from ruining your photographs.

If there is no way around it, then raise your ISO and use a fast shutter speed so that you can freeze any motion that occurs in the shot.In sports photography, the main goal of photographers is to capture a certain moment that will later be viewed by millions of people on television and in newspapers.

Often times, professional sports photographers will use a high shutter speed because they want to freeze the action in a photo. While shutter speed is important, it shouldn’t be the only thing you worry about.

To get great sports images, you have to have good timing. You also have to be able to anticipate where the ball is going and you should have your back to the sun so you can see what’s going on.

For instance, if you’re photographing a baseball player hitting the ball and you’re shooting with the sun behind you, chances are that you’ll get a silhouette of that player and it will be a lot harder for readers to tell who’s in the picture.

Sports Photography Focus, Face, Action, Equipment

Sports photography is a discipline that has several different aspects to consider and it’s important to understand how these work together in order to get the best possible results.


Focus is the first step in any successful sports photography endeavor. Sports images should show the viewer what happened in the moment, with all the emotion and action that occurred.

Focus on the face of an athlete as they cross the finish line with a determined look, or focus on the ball as it sails over your head. If you don’t have proper focus, your image will fall flat.

The most important thing to remember when focusing on sports action is to use continuous auto-focus and manual focus.

Auto-focus works very well in many situations, but when photographing sports action it can be a hindrance because it often mis-focuses due to sudden movements and changes in depth of field.

Manual focus offers much more control over where your camera focuses during shooting so you can keep up with rapidly moving objects and make sure they are tack sharp.


When photographing sports action, there are three main areas of focus: 

  • The face
  • The ball
  • The environment