Life is a sport. Make it count.
As a professional photographer and proud mom who has attended just about every single sporting event my girls have ever competed in – from gymnastics, soccer, basketball and swimming, I’ve documented it all. I know these memories will have a lifelong impact on my children because I fully understand the value of children participating on a team. Often other sideline parents will ask me how they can best capture their children’s sporting events.
Here are my top tips.
- Use sports mode if you have one you have one (I’m not going to go all technical for ISO, aperture, & shutter speed here on you), admittedly with my lenses and experience a pro will be able to get something more – but this is a simple way to prepare by setting your camera up before the event even starts. Sports mode is usually a little running stick figure on most cameras that offer the option.
- Go big and small – capture the whole field, arena, or pool setting, team line up on the bench, all the way down to the ball, putting on final gear, and nervous clenched or prayerful hands if you can get close enough. All the images together can tell a powerful story and create lasting memories.
Speed and action can be difficult to capture, but the emotional pauses before, after and during can be easier if you are paying close attention and anticipating what comes next. Capturing an emotional moment, a sorrowful error or loss, anticipation, before their turn, exhaustion, hugging a teammate , or a joyous victory can all be beautiful memories of their experience.
- Find your best place to stand. You will never catch me in the regular designated parent sitting area or stands. In many cases (in just about any event, from birthday parties to a military homecoming) knowing where to stand to get your shot is key. When you know the sport and can anticipate when great moments are going to happen and then consider what you are trying to capture and then be there! (I can’t say I’ve never crossed a line – sorry ref- or gone all the way around an entire field for some great shots).
- Shoot high and low – try various angles and following the lines of the game – lane ropes and chalk lines are excellent leading lines. Capturing both someone’s head and the ball in the same frame can give full context to what is happening in the event. Get at their level – low on the ground to capture a home run from an amazing angle or from the front of the balance beam. Try it if you are able to get to those spots without causing a disruption, or maybe just not getting caught.
- Keep trying – just like we tell our kids, even just one great shot from an event or even a full season can be worth it.
- Don’t forget to be present and enjoy the time – if you are a team mom and can schedule a pro for a big game or meet I encourage you to do so for the team. Having more than the posed portraits can offer valuable authentic memories from your child's experience.
**This article also appeared in Tidewater Parent. You can read it here.