How to photograph your kids playing sports like a pro
There are a lot of sweet milestones in a child's lifetime. First stage. first word. first day at school.
And in our house, the biggest milestone for our children is to bat for the first time. We are a baseball family through and through and when one of our kids has to put on a little cleats and wear a helmet on their head as they head up to the tee, it is a big event.
Games are a big part of a lot of children's memories. Competition and camaraderie are transformational and can help shape the type of people they become.
As a mother, I document my children's experiences in sports to be incredibly rewarding. Not only am I capturing in my element the activities they enjoy, but I am also capturing the process of learning lifelong lessons. And it is not sad that they are usually more excited about me taking these photos like they are about more formal pictures!
All told, children should consider being photographed while playing sports. I have learned some good lessons over the years and today, I am here to share them all with you.
Bring the right lens
I am a big fan of making the gear that I have for my work. It's the photographer who takes the photo, not the camera, right ?!
But in a special situation like a sports event, having the right camera and lens can * make * all the difference in getting a shot or missing it altogether.
You want to use a telephoto lens (unless your child likes you in the middle of the field during the game ... and I promise you she does!). The 70-200mm is a wonderfully versatile focal length that will work you well on the field. You will be likely to harvest from time to time as the children grow up in those areas as they grow up but this is a great place to be.
If you want to get all the action, consider renting a super telephoto lens (I love the 200-500mm zoom) for a particular game and realize that you are a Sports Illustrated photographer for the day.
The key is something that allows you to zoom beyond what your naked eye can see. This will keep you out of the way but make you feel like you were there.
Choose the right settings
In most cases, your children are about to move a lot while playing a game. This means that the action you want to perform at a faster shutter speed, to freeze it. This means that every time you press the shutter button, the shutter is opening and closing super fast to ensure that only part of your athlete's movement is captured in the picture.
For game time, I like to keep my shutter speed as fast as possible. My camera goes for 1/8000 seconds and if I can stay there, I will! If lighting conditions make it impossible, I will adjust my ISO and aperture settings so that I can stay above 1/1250 at the very least. This ensures that there is no moving blur in my photos and I get the ground action that looks great in sports photography.
Another thing to consider is your white balance. While this is not of much concern on the baseball field where we are outside, indoor sports such as basketball and volleyball have very tricky lighting situations where the right white balance can be a real challenge.
Be sure to dial in your settings to correct for any strange colored casts coming from fluorescent lights. You may have some color casts to edit with green grass or yellow wood flooring, so keep an eye on those things when you place your photos in the post processing program of your choice.
Get the in between moments
Although the action shots are definitely awesome, I think the pictures that draw the most in my heart are in the middle of the moment. My camera is always watching the action, a big gulp of water or a simple moment, taking a break from the task of driving up and down the field.
While photographing your children's sports games, don't forget to look for the quiet moments. These can be filled with a lot of emotion and are a great way to tell the story of an entire game.
Do side scans, be observant from time to time, and have your camera ready when they are sitting on the bench. The middle moments are as important as a touchdown or a home run.
Capture the details
At our place, we watch the entire game. It has a wide angle view of the venue and allows us to appreciate the action being taken on the court / field / field / stadium / gym.
But when you are playing the game? All is well close. A pitcher can feel every individual lace on a baseball. A golfer can see every dimple on the golf ball. Basketball players feel a pure brush with their fingers.
So it makes sense that when we want to tell the story of a game, we would like to capture the big picture along with the details. To kick the ball on one leg or hold the bat and consider the hand. Removing everything else from the frame is a great way to draw attention to the little things that make the athletic experience so unique.
I dusted my macro converters to close the shot of my son catching the game-ball. I love how you can see individual threads in the field and dust from the field. And he loves the photo so much that he asked for a print for his bedroom!
Include the team
Although I am definitely into any sport with my camera to capture my children, it would be sad to not get shots of the entire team. The friendship created through playing together is what makes sports so special in childhood.
I like pregame pep talks and the team dynamic in the hoodles. Whether it is a shot of teammates playing a game together or a festive high five after a tough game, be sure to include the team in your sports photography.
We have a team photographer who always takes a more formal photo with everyone. However, I like to capture more candid moments and let the kids show their personality a little. At the end of the season I will have prints for everyone as a thank you for a great season.
Put down the camera and cheer!
As a mother-photographer, there are not many things that make me happier than capturing my children in their element. But it is really super important to keep the camera down and watch the game from time to time.
I don't want my children to think that I missed the action because I was stuck behind the camera! Instead, I want them to know that I am their biggest fan and to celebrate and celebrate their hard work.
Documenting your children in their activities is a great way to show their personality and celebrate them. I can't wait to hear all about how you will catch your younger athletes in the comments below!