The summer after my freshman year of college, my father thought he’d do me a favor by arranging a job for me at a local convenience store (thanks dad). Among the many disgusting duties of the job, one of my least favorites was restocking the self-serve hot dog roller grill. After removing all the unsold charred and shriveled hot dogs, the burnt gunk accumulated from hours and hours of overcooking had to be scraped from the rollers. It was a truly gag-inducing chore. Now, at this point, I’ll bet you’re wondering what this has to do with sports photography? Glad you asked.
Science + Art
Most people approach sports photography by trying to tackle the challenge of capturing fast moving action in various conditions with whatever equipment you have available. Trust me, I completely understand. But it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to capturing sports photos than simply solving the technical challenges. Part of what makes any image compelling is how you choose to frame it and what angle you decide to shoot from. If you’ve fallen into the habit of taking the same kind of photos over and over at your kids sporting events, your photos can become as stale as those convenience store hot dogs.
Keeping things fresh
Take a few minutes to review some of your recent photos. Are many of them framed the same way? Are the majority of them shot from the same angles and positions over and over? If so, it might be time to change things up a bit. At your kids next game, look for a spot on the court or field that you’ve never shot from before. Try finding a different angle. Frame your shots in an unexpected way. Sure, some of your shots will turn out horrible. In fact, many of them will. But a few will be awesome. If you’re lucky, you’ll not only have added a whole new way of shooting to your repertoire but it may also inspire some additional ideas for pushing the envelope even further next time. To be clear, I’m not suggesting you spend the entire game experimenting with new ideas. Go ahead and use all your safe, comfortable techniques to start off. Once you’re confident you’ve captured a good number of reliable shots, go ahead and start playing around a bit. Have some fun with it. Try things that seem silly, weird or unworkable. Don’t be afraid to fail. You never know what you might find and that’s the whole point.