Become an expert sports photographer capturing unique moments

6 Apr 2023

If you want to be a great sports photographer, you have to learn how to capture the most exciting moments of competitions and know how to deal with the movement of each athlete. Because to be a good competition photographer and make a living out of it, the first thing you have to do is to know the sport you are photographing perfectly so that you can anticipate the most exciting moments.

Because the most impressive sports photography jobs scenes happen in just a few seconds and if the sports photographer has enough experience, these images will become unique and unrepeatable snapshots. If you want to become a great sports photographer, today we are going to give you a series of recommendations that will make you stand out in your speciality.


If you want to become a great sports photographer you have to be quick, determined and very creative.

What is the day-to-day life of a sports photographer like?


One of the keys to being a great sports photographer, apart from knowing the sport you are going to photograph very well, is to be quick and fluent when shooting and to be well positioned even if it is cold, hot, rainy or sunny. Because in most sports, everything interesting happens in tenths of a second and these are the scenes that a good competition photographer has to be able to capture in his sports photographs.

The mission of a sports photographer is to keep a close eye on every event that may occur at the sporting events he or she attends and to shoot at the exact moment when a particular action is taking place.

If you want to become a professional competition photographer, we’re not going to kid you. You’ll have to climb high mountains, go on long hikes with athletes, or get up at 7am on a Sunday morning to attend a sporting event. But the truth is that if you are passionate about attending competitions and sports photography jobs is your thing, none of the above will matter too much to you.

In any type of photographic session in other disciplines, the photographer has to be very attentive to every gesture or movement of the protagonists, but it is precisely in sports photography sessions where the speed of the camera and the expert eye of the photographer will ensure that an unrepeatable moment can be captured by the lens.

Learn how to take striking and creative sports photographs


To make a living from sports photography you have to be able to organise a work routine that leaves nothing to improvisation, except for what happens at the sporting event you are covering. And the first thing you need to do is to prepare your photographic equipment.

Depending on the type of sport you are going to photograph, you have to see whether it is going to be held in an indoor or outdoor venue, whether it is an individual sport or a team competition, etc. Depending on all these parameters, the photographic material you choose will be one or the other.

Another fundamental aspect of good sports photography, especially if it is outdoors, is to know the terrain very well before the competition, especially if you are just starting out in this discipline. It is important to take a good look at the place where the competition is going to take place, look for the best angles and, if more sports photographers are going to be there, get up early to ensure the best positions. And now that you’ve got up early, take advantage of those moments before the competition to boost your creativity. Look for elements that are related to the sport you are going to cover (for example, a football, a mountain bike or the empty street of an Olympic swimming pool) and take some time to take more creative photographs. Taking these images will help you get ideas before the competition starts.

And when the sporting event starts, keep an eye on the participants, glance from time to time at the audience, the coaches and the other people behind you.

10 recommendations for amateur sports photographers


In sports photography sessions, you can’t miss any detail, you have to: go well equipped to the competition, study the terrain beforehand and be very attentive to every detail when the starting gun goes off. If you have been a sports photographer for years, this is something you already know, but if you have not been in this discipline for long or if you are thinking of taking the leap and doing professional sports photography, here are some more tips that will help you to turn this great hobby into a totally profitable profession.

1# Thoroughly study the sport you will be covering as a sports photographer

It is clear that a competition photographer does not necessarily have to specialise in a single discipline, but it is important that he/she knows very well the dynamics of each of the sports he/she is going to cover in order to be able to anticipate the most exciting moments in each of them and not miss any important event.

Once you have mastered each contest, you will be able not only to take pictures of each moment, but also to create more creative compositions by anticipating events in many cases.

2# Control ISO for brighter images and greater depth of field

ISO is the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light. The higher the ISO value, the better the ability to capture light. Therefore, if you are shooting a competition in low light, you will have to increase the ISO value to get a clear photo but also more noise, so finding a happy medium between clarity and noise will be essential to take good sports photos.

Especially when you are just starting out this parameter is not usually touched, but when you have a few “flying hours” experimenting with it will help you in moments when the lighting is not favourable or you want to gain depth of field. Your photographs will change dramatically.

3# Create your sports photos using perspectives close to the ground

If you use a monopod to support the camera and try taking lower shots, you can get some really amazing results with a better angle and perspective of the image, improving the depth of field as well. In this way, you will be able to give more prominence to the athletes and create sports photos with a greater impact.

When photographing from this perspective, take into account the background behind the athletes. Before the competition you can try out different positions to avoid unpleasant surprises when viewing the images. The same goes for the horizon, make sure it is level so that it doesn’t look like the competitors are out of the frame.


4# Take many more pictures than planned, even when you think you’ve already taken the most amazing ones

During a sporting competition is not the time to look back at the pictures you have already taken. If you do, you are sure to miss a highlight. That’s why it’s important to never stop taking pictures during the whole competition.

Locate and focus on the target to be photographed and don’t stop shooting. Take as many photos as you can per second to capture both the athlete’s movement and the play or exercise he/she is performing.

5# Exercise your peripheral vision to make sure you don’t miss a detail

When capturing everything that is happening at a sporting event, it is important that you learn to see everything that is happening in a sporting event as a whole with one eye, while with the other eye you continue to shoot the athletes who are currently performing an action.

If you are able not only to see, but to capture the whole space in an image, your sports photographs will tell several stories at once.

6# Learn to shoot in burst and with autofocus

One of the options you have to set on your camera is the burst shooting mode so that when a moment of great sporting tension approaches, simply by having your finger pressed on the shutter button, a large number of images will be fired until the camera’s temporary memory is full.

Particularly if you are covering a high-speed sport, being able to shoot hundreds of shots in a very short time with the confidence that you won’t lose focus on the images will allow you to get much more powerful images on the move.


7# Go to a multi-hour sporting event well equipped

On many occasions the sports photographer is going to spend long working days in the same place, so it is important to have some auxiliary equipment to make the wait more bearable. This is the case of the monopod to support the camera and the equipment belt where you will be able to have all kinds of lenses, lenses, memory cards, notebook and pen and other extra material you need during the day’s work.

8# Try new techniques

If you really want your sports images to make an impression and stand out from the rest of your peers, you can try new techniques when photographing athletes.

Research your camera settings, look for different shots and add elements to your images to make them much more descriptive.

9# Learn from top sports photographers

Once you have some experience, learning from the leaders in your sector will help you to employ new techniques that they are sure to be using and to create more creative images. The key here is to take inspiration from the best, try different styles, even from non-sport photographers, and keep whatever fits your personality and make it your own.


10# The key is to practise more than the others

Constant practice is essential for good competition photography. In this complex discipline, if you don’t practice constantly, you will never achieve a style of photography that is out of the ordinary.

Examples of sports photographers


In Arcadina more and more sports photographers are encouraged to create their website and their online business selling images with us. In the following article we have put together a compilation of 5 sports photographers who make the most of their sports photography sessions. We hope they will inspire you.

>> 5 success stories: Selling sports photography

Thanks to Arcadina you can achieve your goal and become a profitable sports photographer


If you want to become a professional sports photographer, with us, in addition to having a website to display your images of the latest sporting events you have attended, you will also have a professional space where you can privately share your reports with the organisers of an event or the players. This space is called private galleries and your clients and event sponsors will be able to: select, buy, send, download and request orders for printing photographs in professional formats.

And if you are thinking about how to make a day’s session at a sporting competition even more profitable, a great idea could be to offer the photographs of the event for sale to the public through a public gallery. In this way, all the participants, fans, public and lovers of this discipline will be able to buy your digital images with a direct download option or order prints in more exclusive formats.

Start now to become the sports photographer you’ve always dreamed of!

Today we want to share with you the experience of Eli Mora, a great sports photographer who trusts in our business solutions.

>> Eli Mora, sports photographer: “my clients value their private spaces”

And to say goodbye, one last question: Which sports photographer do you admire the most? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Headache for your photography business? Take an Arcadina

Headache for your photography business? Take an Arcadina

Fulfil your dream of becoming a professional photographer with the help of our business solutions. Now you can create a website and business for free for 14 days with no commitment of permanence.

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