Let me know if this sounds familiar: After a long day of work, you haul ass back to your house, pick up your kid and race to the local ball diamond or soccer field because they have practice (AGAIN) where you’ll spend two hours NOT getting anything done even though you have a TON of stuff you need to get done. It’s the life of a typical sports parent and it can be frustrating to say the least. But rather than getting bitter, we have a better idea. Since you already have to be there anyway, why not bring your camera along? I know, it sounds kinda weird to take pictures at practice but it can actually be a perfect opportunity to capture some truly unique shots. Don’t believe me? Check out these ideas...
Kids will be kids
Everyone says youth sports is supposed to be about learning and having fun but once you get past a certain age, most players, coaches and parents want to win. Come game time, everyone is focused and ready to play. Practices on the other hand, yeah...not so much. They’re usually way more laid back which make them the perfect time to get shots of kids laughing, having fun and just being their generally goofy selves. Seriously, anything is possible with a that many crazed, Skittle-powered youngsters running around so have your camera ready at all times.
It’s all about that face
Think about your most memorable family photos. Regardless of the setting, I’ll bet the one thing they all have in common is faces. People love looking at faces, especially of their loved ones and most especially of their kids. And since we’ve already established that kids tend to goof around during practices, you probably won’t find a better chance to capture some pretty interesting expressions.
Most coaches will tell you that developing skills is all about repetition which is the whole point of practice. As a photographer, this is an ideal opportunity. Rather than having to guess/predict what’s going to happen in a live game, practice drills allow you to know exactly what’s going to happen, when it will happen and how your subject will react. Trust me, it’s WAY easier than trying to anticipate game action.
Prime real estate
Unless you have an expensive telephoto zoom lens, getting close up shots during a game can be pretty tricky (most game officials frown on parents running onto the field or court with their cameras). At practice, you can set up just about anywhere you want. Within reason, of course. It may not be a game but you still don’t want to be a distraction or get in the way. And as always, make sure you clear your intentions with the coaching staff before venturing onto the field.
Practice makes perfect
I approach my photography at practices the same as the coaches and the players. It’s a chance to get better. And since there’s no pressure to get that perfect, game action shot, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to try new techniques, new angles, new camera settings and maybe even new gear. Sometimes, you may end up with some truly amazing images. But, if the shots don’t turn out, no worries. You’ve learned some valuable lessons about what NOT to do when shooting at a game. Seriously, there’s really nothing to lose.
Caught on video
Let’s face it, modern cameras are just getting ridiculous. All the standard features keep getting better while prices stay level or even go down a bit. And if that weren’t enough, most cameras can now record video, some as high as 4K. Granted, shooting video presents a whole new set of challenges but there are also a ton of cool opportunities as well. If you’re ever going to dive in and experiment, practice would an idea time to bring out your inner Spielberg.
Helping time fly
In the end, one of the best arguments for taking pictures during practice is the alternative: sitting in your car and staring at your phone for two hours. No thanks. I’d rather be doing something fun while also being actively engaged with the kids, coaches and other parents who my children or grandchildren spend so much time with. Chances are, you’ll have some fun yourself and the practice will be over before you know it.