The Unexpected Athlete: Techniques Sports Photographers Use to Create History

Nothing quite matches the intensity and passion that is an athletic event. Whether you are an avid sports fan or cringing on the sidelines, humans are attracted to competition. It’s ingrained in our biology. Sports bring this out in us and sports photographers must capture it. According to Photojournalism a Professionals Approach, “Sports photographers are like athletes. They need the aim of a major league pitcher, the reflexes of a basketball guard, and the concentration of a tennis player.”

To work as a sports photographer there are some skills one needs. You have to be ready for fast paced environments. Some of the greatest sports moments happen within a second and you have to be prepared and ready to shoot. Sports photographers also need to be punctual. Readers don’t want to see or hear about sports moments a week after the event has occurred. A mature sports reporter also keeps up with the stats of players and the game, knowing this info could mean capturing a record-breaking moment.

 Before this assignment I did not consider fans being such a huge part of sports photography. Fans are a pivotal part of the game and can depict in which direction the game is going even without viewing the direct action. Another aspect this assignment taught me was the necessity of captions in sports photography.  Captions should include the 5 W’s plus the H: Who, What When, Where, Why and How, according to Photojournalism the Professionals Approach. Being prepared with caption information allows the photographer to not lose photos in the shuffle of hundreds taken during the game.  

 Sports Photographers use several techniques when shooting sports. The most common is freezing action. Freezing action is doing just as it describes stopping the action in that moment of time, so the athlete or athletes are completely clear. Another technique used in shooting sports is panned motion. Panning allows for the showcase of movement. The subject is in focus, but the background is streaked. In this case the goal of the photographer is to convey the motion or play of the sport, such as a track star running across the finish line.

 Whether you choose to shoot sports by stopping the action or allowing for the view of movement sports are exhilarating to shoot. Some of the most recognized photos in history were shot by sports photographers, from Muhammad Ali knocking out George Foreman to the images of the “Miracle on Ice,” when an underdog U.S. team toppled the USSR powerhouse during the 1980 Olympics. Being a part of a historic moment in sports for players and fans allows people to exist completely in a moment, without the thought of personal or outside struggles. People of various backgrounds are together in an extremely passionate way to support their team. In the blink of an eye the action can end, and these moments are what a sports photographers strive to capture.