How to Become a Professional Sports Photographer

What does it take to convert your hobby into an opportunity to mint money? In one sentence, the answer to this would be, to develop a 'professional approach'. And how will you develop this approach? Find out for yourself ...
A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. - Eudora Welty

Imagine how bland the sports page would look without the 'winning moment' or the 'priceless moment' captured and made memorable. Though the work of a photographer entails capturing the right emotion at the right time, the job of a sports photographer varies slight a bit from that of a regular photographer. The only difference being that, a sports journalist has to grapple with heavier equipment, varied poses and constant motion to get a single fleeting moment right. Well, it wouldn't be wrong to say, a sports photographer is no less a sportsman himself, juggling his things while getting the perfect shot. What does it take to be a professional sports photographer? Topping my list would be passion and love for the sport itself. But then you need passion in everything that you do; so, let's glance through the other requirements that will help you get ahead and be the best in the race that would befit only a sports photographer.

How to Become a Sports Photographer

*Click on the images to get a better view.
Get your Equipment Right

Black Zoom LensSet of Interchangeable Lenses

Being a professional sports photographer is definitely not a cakewalk; first things first, move up from that point-and-shoot camera that you possess and go in for a high-definition camera. To be a 'Pro', you got to own a range of expensive cameras; it doesn't stop there mind you! You have also got to equip yourself with different accessories to team up with your exclusive DSLR camera.

Look for these features while opting for a DSLR camera:

Check the camera for polarizing, graduated neutral density (GND) and UV filters that maintain a good balance between the contrast, focus and the color.
Go in for a model that has a continuous servo motor that will capture the athletes in motion.
A camera giving you eight frames per second is a sure-shot way to capture every single field action without missing anything.
Look for a camera with highest ISO settings, which will, in turn, give you faster shutter speeds.

Apart from these features, go in for these accessories for your DSLR camera:

Interchangeable lens that will enable you to zoom near or far, as and when required
A tripod or unipod stand to steady your camera and give you the edge for a steady picture
Lenses with a good focal length that will give you better images
Extra batteries to keep your camera always on the go, and microchips to store your photographs

Get Shooting

Zoom Out ShotChange in Background Focus
Forced Perspective Shot

In order to be known as a professional, you need to make use of every opportunity that comes your way and that too, to the best of your ability. A professional definitely won't take things sitting down, you would have to make your presence felt at every possible occasion that you can lay your hands on. During the initial phase, you might have to settle in for the local sports or maybe even for high school tournaments. Once you establish your hold on these relatively smaller events, you can aim for professional games. Before that, you can consider being unique, think out of the box, try to get as many pictures from all possible angles and shoot any given sport, till you find your forte. Too much advice all at once, ain't it? Well, this concise list will help get you on the right perspective.

Tips to Get You Started

Be prepared to get messy. Why is this important? You would have to try different positions to get the best click to work to your advantage.

Do what you love doing best! Shoot the sport you are familiar with; familiarity with the sport will enable you to get out the best possible image.

Shoot from different angles and altitudes for a good collection of images. Try to get as many pictures of the event portraying the different moods of the game.

Be aware! As a photographer, you are expected to be aware and alert at all times, lest you miss out on an ongoing action.

Be unique! You won't be at loss if you try to think differently; on the contrary, it will push you up a notch above ace photographers.

Use your instincts wisely. Having an inkling to what can be expected is an advantage, which will enable you to surge ahead with full gusto.

Get acquainted with the players. Doing so will enable you to get their personality on to the picture. Give it a thought, it is gonna aid you in your work.

Just keep clicking and forget the editing. For best results, avoid checking every image you have clicked, save it for later in the day, when you are relaxed.

Keep your spirit soaring! As a photographer, you cannot afford to let fatigue, stress and boredom get the best of you. Keep your energy levels up at all times, that's all I can say to it.


Experience Matters
Before you approach the newspapers for the job, prepare yourself thoroughly. Keep these pointers in mind to help you be in a better stead.

Experiment, experiment, experiment! Experiment with different styles, types of cameras and different types of lighting to give you an experience worth talking about.

Develop your style. Why is this important? You should be able to answer this yourself. Your unique style will help you surge ahead with ease.

Build your portfolio. Keep a record of your best shots over a period of time, it will only aid you in getting that coveted job of an ace photographer.

Promote yourself. Your work should reflect your passion and zeal to get the job. As a photographer, you need to promote yourself and here, 'Sky is the limit'.

Commit to specialization. Find your specialization and pursue it with full desire. There's nothing that will hamper your progress then.

Enroll for a photography class. Enrolling for a photography class will give you an edge on the technical aspects of the trade.

Internship matters! Working under professional photographers who have already found their standing will help you in myriad ways than one. Besides, it will also highlight your resume, giving you an edge over others competing in the field.

As I mentioned earlier, your work should be enough to speak for you, the way you present your portfolio will have a greater impact on your career. You should also know how to shoot black and white photos, as it will enhance your ability to shoot pictures of sportsmen, which will heighten the look of your portfolio tenfold. Follow these guidelines sincerely and it surely will land you in a plum job. Opportunity comes to the one who seeks, knock even where you feel the doors are closed; you never know where and when you might land that job you've been eying for a long time.
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