8 Tips To Take Awesome Indoor Sports Photography

Are you a sports photographer that shoots many indoor games such as basketball, hockey or volleyball? Many indoor sports are very fast paced and you are typically working with the funky lighting that comes with playing in an arena or gymnasium. Today, we want to share with you a few things to consider if you are an indoor sports photographer. 

1. Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment

When it comes to which camera is best, it really depends on the photographer. As long as you are shooting with a reliable DSLR but you want to make sure you have good lenses. More importantly, you want to have a lens with a long zoom with a large aperture. 

And just like any other type of photography, you want to make sure you have all the necessities including extra batteries, a backup memory card just in case, and you may even want to have a back up camera body if that is something you have. It is also important to have a handy gear bag that is easy to carry. 

2. Arrive Early And Scope Out The Scene

There are many good reasons to get to the game early. First, you want to have time to scope out the venue, especially if you have never shot there before. It is good to help you understand where the best places to stand would be and who knows, you may even find a unique angle that you never had before. 

Arriving early before game time could also beneficial because you can get some great pre-game photos of each team warming up together, having pre-game meetings or rituals. These types of photos are what help tell the entire story of the game from start to finish and it is a great time to capture photos of individual players. 

 Photo credit: USA Today

Photo credit: USA Today

3. Understand The Sport

You must know the game you are photographing. If you are shooting a basketball game, knowing when they are playing a zone defense or man-to-man is helpful so you know what you should be looking for. If you are familiar with the players it will be helpful to better realize when they are getting ready to pass to their top dunker. Is it better to stand on the home side or the visitor side. Remember that you are there to photograph the big picture - you are there to tell the story of the game from start to finish. 

4. Be Aware And Cautious

It is always dangerous to be standing on the sidelines of a very fast-paced sporting event. Players run, jump and fall out of bounds all throughout the game and if you are not aware or your attention is elsewhere, you could get injured. Stay focused on the game and what is going on around you at all times. 

5. Focus On Specifics

Many sports are action sports and you want to capture as many of those action shots as you can but some of the best sports photos are ones that focus on the little details. The sparkle in the players' eyes when he or she scores, or the numbers on the jersey of the player who finally got his chance in the game. Maybe you could even focus a shot on the ball or puck or the intense face that the coach has as he is in a huddle with his players. 

Another great thing to remember is that a sporting event is not all about the game. You also want to capture the excitement of the fans, the mom and dad that are embracing when their son or daughter scored the winning shot or even the mascot as they excite the crowd. 

6. Use Your DSLR Back Button Focus Feature

Most DSLRs have an option that allows you to assign auto focus functions to a button that is located on the back of the camera. When a player passes between you and the player you have been trying to focus on, typically your focus will be shifted to the new player in the frame. With back-button focus, all you have to do is remove your finger from the button when another player enters the frame. Pressing the back button again when the distracting player leaves the frame resumes your original focus quickly and easily.

 Photo credit: Toronto Sun

Photo credit: Toronto Sun

7. Shutter Speed

It is best to start with a shutter speed of 1/500 and then adjust your settings accordingly until you get the look you want in your photos. Once you get it where you want, it will most likely be pretty consistent over the course of the entire game, since the lighting typically stays the same - unless the venue has windows that can bring in natural sunlight. 

If you are using flash, determine the maximum shutter speed your flash will allow which is typically 1/250 (but be sure that you check your manual for "flash sync speed" just to be sure). Start with that and then adjust your aperture and ISO accordingly.  

8. Try Out Different Angles

Be sure you get photos from different angles if you are able to. Try capturing some shots of players from down lower and also move higher to get ariel shots if you can. If you know the game, you will know when it is best to be where. Different angles will make for some great and unique shots... it is always best when you are able to mix it up at bit. 


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