Tag Archives: sport

Build Your Portfolio With Local Gigs

Love triangle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pensiero

As a short extension to Christine Howell’s guest post, How to Become a Sports Photographer, I’d like to rehash a very important point she made. As she was talking about the importance of gaining experience, she stated “… you will be better off on the sidelines of your local high school baseball game than in the stands at the World Series.

But this concept of working local gigs to build a portfolio and work your way up is applicable to just about any type of assignment photography (and other types of paid photography). Here are just a few examples of using local and amateur events/jobs to get some experience.

SPORTS – As Christine mentioned, start shooting local games just for the experience. There are all sorts of local leagues just about everywhere you go.

CONCERTS – Similar to sporting events, there are a lot of local concerts and shows in most cities and urban areas. A show might cost you $10 or $15 to get into, but you’ll probably be able to get shots from any spot you choose (just make sure the venue is cool with cameras).

WEDDINGS – If you want to get into wedding photography, start off by hooking up with a wedding photographer and tagging along on a couple jobs as a backup photographer. As your comfort level rises, start taking on lower-budget weddings and working your way up as you become more sought after.

FINE ART – Start participating in local art shows, fairs, and contests. The most important thing is to get your work in front of people’s eyes, and you’ll be familiarizing yourself with the standards of the industry at the same time.

And as a comment in Christine’s article, Kevin Winzeler gave a great piece of advice for becoming a better sports photographer: “… getting experience in the sport you’re shooting; even at a small level.” Absolutely! This applies to other sides of photography too — shoot the things you enjoy doing yourself and it will show in your photos.

What are some other photography examples of working your way up from local/amateur to global/professional? (I suppose this applies to just about everything in photography, but let’s share some specific examples)

How to Become a Sports Photographer

The following guest post was contributed by Christine Howell who frequently writes about online photography schools and college related topics for Online College Guru, an online college directory and comparison website.


Ramon Nunez kicks
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jason Gulledge

If you are interested in photography, you may wish to specialize in a particular field, such as sports photography. Sports photography can be a very lucrative field, but just like professional sports, it’s not all fun and games. You will need to put in the work to become a professional sports photographer, and this article will help introduce you to the rewarding world of photographing professional sports.

1. Get the Right Equipment

Sports photography calls for different gear than other types of photography. The action can be explosively fast, and the shot can be over in fractions of a second, so you will need a camera with a continuous-focus servomotor to capture the athletes as they move closer and farther away from you without having to constantly refocus.

Also, it is necessary to have a continuous shutter function (burst), so you will have several photographs of the rapid-paced action from which to choose the best shot. 8 frames per second is the professional standard for continuous shutters.

Slam Dunk - college basketball
Creative Commons License photo credit: Abdullah AL-Naser

Try to also find a camera with the highest ISO settings that produce least amount of noise. Last but not least, a zoom lens or prime lens, preferably with the largest aperture you can find with IS.

2. Get Some Experience

Number 8
Creative Commons License photo credit: OskarN

Vantage point is more important than venue, so clearly you will be better off on the sidelines of your local high school baseball game than in the stands at the World Series. Start local and get a feel for your subject matter. Concentrate in a sport you understand, because then you can anticipate where the action will be. If you don’t quite “get” baseball strategy, you won’t be able to anticipate where the fielding team will choose to throw the ball or where the batter is likely to aim it. On the other hand, look for shots that are less obvious: an emotional reaction from the stands or from the bench might have more impact than a clean slam-dunk or a runner crossing home plate.

3. Plot Your Career

Arsenal v Liverpool
Creative Commons License photo credit: toksuede

Obviously Sports Illustrated isn’t going to be flying you to the Superbowl without a lot of experience under your belt. You will have to start small, local, and yes, probably free, to build up your portfolio. Volunteer to take some official photographs at a little league game or school match. Once you get some nice shots, you can pursue paying gigs, eventually working your way up to the big leagues. It is very worthwhile to subscribe to industry magazines for tips from established sports photographers, and registering on a website like http://www.sportsshooter.com/ will give you access to forums, contests, tips and a classified section to buy and sell equipment or advertise for jobs.

Motion Blur Frozen
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mariano Kamp

So there you have it. Each step will take an investment of time and a bit of money, but if you want to become a sports photographer, it will certainly be worth it to end up with an exciting career that pays well and is a lot of fun—what’s not to like?

Wide Open

Wide Open

Brian Auer | 02/23/2008 | San Diego, CA | 15mm * f/6.3 * 1/1000s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

When the wind is just right, the skies above Black’s Beach team with para gliders and hang gliders. This particular shot was taken at a 10mm focal length (15mm full-frame equivalent) as I stood very near the edge of a 300 foot sand cliff above the Pacific Ocean. The gliders ride the updrafts as the wind comes off the ocean and shoots straight up along the face of the cliff. These thrill seekers can ride these winds for extended periods of time and never lose altitude. The Gliderport is located on the Torrey Pines State Reserve, nestled between the beach towns of La Jolla and Del Mar. La Jolla can be seen in the background of this photo as it extends out into the ocean to form a point. And those little dots on the sand below… those are people.

Wide Open Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. Not too shabby, but it needed some work on a few areas. I decided to keep the color on this one because of the sky in the upper portion of the image.
  2. Basic Adjustments
    I set the white balance to a temperature of 5500 and a tint of +8. Then I brought the exposure to -.5, set the recovery to 100, no fill light, blacks at 13, brightness at +14, contrast at +35, clarity at 35, vibrance at +17, and saturation at +7. Do note that a lot of these settings weren’t made in this order — there’s a lot of back-and-forth between these settings and the settings on the other two panels I used.
  3. Tone Curve Adjustment
    I set a “strong contrast” on the point curve, and added some extra contrast on the parametric curve with highlights set to -28, lights at +26, darks at -13, and shadows at -4.
  4. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the detail panel, I set the sharpening to an amount of 50 and a radius of 1.5. In the lens corrections panel, I added some positive vignette. So instead of darkening the corners, I lightened them to even out the image and brighten the foreground. At 10mm, my lens tends to produce a slight amount of vignette, so I punched up the value in ACR to +50 with a midpoint of 0. I lost some contrast in the clouds (which I over-contrasted just for this reason), but I gained a whole lot of brightness in the lower left corner.