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Sports Photography Advice from Plano Senior Photographer

Plano senior photographer
Plano senior photographer

It was a steaming hot 105 degrees the late afternoon when I decided to try my hand at sports photography. Heat radiated up from the asphalt as I, drenched with sweat, photographed the cycling race, a local criterium that happened on Tuesday nights during the spring and summer.  (Yes, I am a Plano Senior Photographer but I enjoy photographing lots of different things.)

What got me out there was a photography contest.  I will confess that I am not a sports fan and I'm not an athlete (unless you count Bikram yoga as a sport).  But this sport seemed perfect because it was predictable.  The cyclists went round and round and I could stand in one spot for a while, see them coming, and prepare for the shot.

I have also tried some other sports photography, both indoors and outdoors, of my children.  Here are a few tips to consider when shooting sports:

  • Bring plenty of memory cards. You will take many bad, blurry, or uninteresting shots for every one good shot.  Be prepared.
  • Gyms often have very low light.  And you're often too far away to use a flash.  So try bumping up the ISO, use a quick shutter speed, and also you'll need adequate depth of field.
  • If you're shooting moving objects on a predictable route as in the criterium, pre-focus on a spot on the road and keep the camera to your face so you are ready to shoot and so you don't change the position of your camera relative to the pre-focus spot. You can choose to focus lock (hold the shutter half-way down) or turn it to manual focus so your camera doesn't try to re-focus. Then when the athletes come to that spot, take your photograph.
  • Remember that great sports photographs often tell stories.  Be sure to include only the relevant players in the shot.  In other words, a way zoomed out shot is often not as interesting as a close-up of two players interacting.
  • Fast shutter speeds will stop the action.  Slow shutter speeds will blur the action.
  • If you are photographing someone throwing a ball, include the person he/she is throwing to.
  • Bring a long zoom lens for the most flexibility.  You don't want to miss a great shot because you were changing lenses.
  • If you have a choice about time of day to shoot, the golden hours are the best.  Shoot either about an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset.  These cycling photographs were all shot around sunset.
  • Finally, if shooting a criterium in the wretched Texas heat, be sure to bring plenty of water.

Here are a couple more shots from the criterium:


Thanks for reading! Please schedule your fall senior portraits soon, before they are gone. Call 214.783.9691 or e-mail me at to get in touch.