10 Top Tips from an Olympic Photographer
At the Summer Olympics, there are typically more than 2,000 photographers, so it’s a challenge to get a shot that’s different from everyone else’s. But I strive to get something unique at every sporting event. When everyone else is using a really fast shutter speed to freeze the action of their child swimming, I may purposely shoot at a slow shutter speed to get some motion blur in the swimmers. When others shoot from a standing position, I may choose to get down low to get a different perspective.
Try different lenses
Speaking of doing things differently, it is a good idea to try different lenses when shooting a sporting event. Most people will use a zoom lens to try to get as close as possible to the action, and that’s a good thing to do, but it’s also nice to try a wide-angle lens to get a wide shot of the athletes and the crowd.
Get the best access you can
Being an accredited Olympic photographer gives me the advantage of being in the best locations to capture photos of some of the best athletes in the world. And trust me, location is very important. If you are photographing a football game, it is difficult to get good photos if you are shooting from the stands. Try to get as close to the field as possible so you can get close to the players. And when shooting games at your local school or club, ask if you can be on the sidelines. They may not let you, but most of time, as long as you offer to give them some of your best images, they will be happy to oblige.
Use the best equipment you can afford
There’s good news and bad news here. If you’re shooting a game outside during the day, you will likely have a lot of light to work with, and you can use a less expensive zoom lens to capture the action with a fast shutter speed. But if you are shooting indoor sports, you will typically need a lens which lets you shoot at a high aperture (like f2.8) or a camera that can shoot at high ISO (like 6400) with minimal grain in the image—both of which can be very expensive. So based on your needs, splurge for the best equipment for your particular type of photography. To give you an idea of how expensive this can get, when I shoot an Olympic event, I am typically carrying two camera bodies valued at $7,000 each and lenses that cost even more than the cameras bodies. It’s also important to make sure you have enough memory for all the images you are going to take. I always carry with me with a range of Lexar Professional cards with different speed and capacities to make sure I never miss a shot.
This last point is very important. Make sure that you are having fun! I have been a professional photographer for many years now, and still love what I do. There is no better feeling than coming back from a shoot, going through my images, and finding that one “killer shot.” If you have not experienced that exhilaration, just keep shooting, and hopefully you will soon!
Jeff Cable - http://jeffcable.blogspot.co.uk/