Photographing sports is AMAZING!!

You can capture the action, the reactions, warm-ups, even individual portraits – you can be artistic, fast, slow, whatever works for you.

As a professional photographer for 35 years, I have covered everything from PeeWee Football to NFL games.  I have photographed High School track meets, World Super Bike races, NBA games, League Soccer, Pro Wakeboarding, Hockey, Karate, Adventure Races, and yep, Little League Baseball.  I have worked for companies such as ESPN, Cox Cable, and a whole slew of others.  What a great way to spend a day!

Middle Tennessee is great when it comes to sports photography.  All sorts of tournaments, races, and events are being held.  Each sport has it’s sweet spots for photography.  Settings are different, field positioning, lenses & equipment are different for each sport.  And being knowledgeable in the sport is important – it can tell you where the action will be happening next.

Soccer is always Awesome!  Yes, I suck at playing it, but I love photographing it!  I can even give you some tips on how to shoot it.


I use a Nikon D3 with a 70-200 2.8 Nikkor lens and a Nikon D5 with a 300 2.8 Nikkor lens.  I always recommend a full size sensor camera, but any camera will do.  The glass up front is more important.  This is where you want to spend your money.  A 200mm lens will do you good for about 1/3 of the field.  If you are shooting during the day, get a 70-300 or a 100-400 with a higher f-stop will work fine.  In addition, I use a wagon with an umbrella attached to it, Sunscreen, hat, a wonderful folding stool (A Portal Folding Tripod Stool with Backrest), a great monopod (SIRUI P-325FS), and a small ice chest with plenty of cold waters.

Goalie leaping to bump the ball over the goal!


Now, this is gonna vary on weather conditions and time of day.  On a normally bright Nashville morning, with a big open field for soccer, I will do a setting somewhere around 1600 Shutter speed, 5.6 f-stop, and generally a 400 ISO.  If you don’t shoot manually, simply switch your camera settings to Shutter Speed Priority (S), and set that to 1600, and let the camera take care of the F-stop.  On a day with the sun constantly going in and out behind clouds, I will sometimes do the shutter speed priority thing as well.

Field Position

This is different for different reasons.  Sometimes I am hired to shoot an individual player.  Sometimes I am hired to photograph a team.  Sometimes I am simply paid to cover an entire game.

If I am shooting a certain player, I find out there position and set up my wagon and chair accordingly.  If he is a defender, I generally will work just a little past mid field.  Maybe halfway to the other teams 18 box.  This gives me a nice face shot when the player is defending and stealing the ball.  If they are playing in the center, I will try and set up on the team side, so I can get the parents in the background.  If defending on a certain side, I will go to that side.  For a striker, I will definitely shift down a bit, knowing they aren’t going deep into their own territory.  They will be playing midfield and up toward the opposing side’s goalie.  I will sometimes will drop down to the corner flag as well.  NOW, about 5 minutes into the game, don’t be afraid to adjust your position.  If one team is always on the attack, move up and down the field to get the better shot.

If I am photographing a soccer team, I spend a quarter time on the attackers, and a quarter time on the defenders per half.  Lots more movement on my part…  So much for the chair and umbrella, hello hat and sunscreen.  I will pretty much rotate around the field, and again adjusting my position if one team is on the attack more.  This style of shooting also applies if I am shooting the game for an organization, and not just one team.  But you can guarantee that you will be shooting a lot more and editing a lot more photos when you shoot a game compared to just a player.

Not just action…  Remember to always get the reactions of players on a score or even on a near miss.  Priceless shots!  After a goal, grab a shot of the team converging and congratulating their team mate that scored.  Get a goalie of the goalie after a big save or a near save.  Just because the whistle blows don’t stop shooting!


Goalie screaming in excitement after a  big save

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