Many, many eons ago, my college roommate and I decided it was time to leave dorm life behind and move off campus. We were completely psyched to find a great apartment that was clean, roomy and best of all, affordable. But about halfway through our first semester in the new place, we discovered another benefit we hadn’t anticipated: we’d both lost weight and gained muscle tone from walking the extra distance to campus every day. Wouldn’t it be great if there were more unexpected benefits like that in life? Well, if you’re thinking of taking pictures at your kids sporting events, we have five benefits you probably never even considered and might just ensure you’ll grab your camera when heading out to the next game.
YOU THE MAN (OR WOMAN)
Even though you’re probably most concerned with getting great photos of your own son or daughter, I’d encourage you to grab a few shots of their teammates as well. It doesn’t take a lot of time and trust me when I tell you, there are very few things you can do for another sports parent that will gain you as much gratitude and admiration as providing them with pictures of their child playing sports. You will instantly become one of the most well liked parents on the team. I’ve had multiple parents and grandparents get very emotional when thanking me for the pictures I took of their kids or grandkids. Not to go full-on Hallmark Channel but it’s a pretty great feeling to know you actually made someone’s day like that.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
One of the toughest parts about helping a young player get better in whatever sport they play is explaining the problems with what they’re currently doing. But, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a series of pics showing a flawed batting stance, awkward jump shot or off balance forehand can be one of the best coaching tools you’ll ever find. In fact, one of my grandson’s baseball coaches even asked me to use the burst mode on my iPhone camera during practice so he could show some of his players the various problems with their batting form. Almost every player was able to improve at least a little after seeing the images for themselves.
FEEL THE BURN
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably moving around quite a bit when taking pics at your son or daughter’s games. Depending on the sport or event, you might be burning more calories than you think. Outdoor sports in particular tend to have fairly sizable playing fields. If you’re moving around throughout the game to follow the action, find new angles or avoid obstructions, there’s a good chance you’re getting a decent workout. Even if the sport is indoors, you may be climbing bleachers and moving around the court enough to burn a decent number of calories. At the very least, you won’t be sitting and/or eating something which is a positive all by itself.
I’m not a naturally social person. It’s true. I’m usually the guy hiding in the corner at parties and cookouts trying to avoid having to make small talk. It’s just not my thing. But if there’s anything that will bring out my inner extrovert (yeah, it sounds kinda weird but stick with me for a sec) it’s when people want to chat with me about photography. During games, people will often remark on the lenses I use—mostly because they’re larger telephoto zoom lenses that stand out quite a bit from the typical lenses sold as part of a kit when you buy a DSLR camera—which often leads to a more involved photographic discussion.
SOUND OF SILENCE
I have a confession to make. When my daughter played sports, I would occasionally speak my mind to the officials...loudly. I was never obnoxious enough to get kicked out of a game but I definitely wound up on the business end of a few nasty glares from both my daughter and the refs a time or two (or 50). Obviously, something had to change.
At the time, I wasn’t taking pictures as much but after one particular game when I did, my wife and daughter complimented me on keeping my cool during a few of the controversial plays. Honestly, I hadn’t even noticed any of the plays they were talking about because I was focused on getting good shots. That’s when it hit me that photography was the perfect solution for keeping me out of trouble during games. I won’t claim that it’s always worked but, in the 20+ years since I began taking pictures at every game, I can count the number of times I’ve barked at an official on one hand. And most of those times were when I didn’t bring my camera. Long story short, photography can be a good way to keep distracted from the stress, anxiety and frustrations of watching your son or daughter play sports.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Without question, the most obvious benefit to taking pictures of your kids or grandkids playing sports is that you’re capturing priceless photos to share with family and friends and create lasting memories of the overall experience. The fact that it also comes with some pretty cool unexpected benefits is just icing on the cake.