How To Become a Sports Photographer

If you want to be a professional sports photographer, then you need to realize that no one is going to flat out give you that job. You need to earn it, and the only way to do that is to build up experience and a portfolio on your own, by purchasing a camera and photographing sport games.

Get a Camera

If you're serious about pursuing any career as a photographer, then you need to own a professional camera. A point and shoot is fine for learning the basics and nursing your artistic skills, but you need a really good camera to make the jump from amateur to professional. SLR digital cameras are great to start with because they have interchangeable lenses that can be swapped out quickly.

When photographing sports, you're going to be far from the action and need long lenses to get you closer. Ideally, you want to have an assortment of lenses to work with instead of always relying on a large zoom lens because the individual lenses give you a great range of depth of field. Close ups of athletes in action, with the rest of the field out of focus, look dramatic and will set your work apart from the rest. But, you do want to have the zoom lenses in your kit because there are going to be times when the action is happening too fast for lenses changes, and the only way to keep up is by zooming in and out.

You should also have polarizing, ND and UV filters to keep your colors, contrast and focuses rich.

Build a Portfolio

Now that you have the equipment you need, get out there and start shooting. Because you're not working for anyone yet, it's up to you to find the games and pay for the tickets to get in. Start with high school and college sports to start building your portfolio. These games don't cost much to attend (usually free) and are great places to practice your skills while finding your style.

As you become more confident with your work and proud of your portfolio, then you can drop some money on tickets to professional sports games. While most people go to be entertained by the game, you're going there to build reputable pictures for your portfolio. If you want to get hired as a professional sports photographer, then you need to pass yourself off as one. Schools are great for practice, but the professional games are going to be what leads to jobs.

Look for Work

Once you have a portfolio that looks just as good as any other professional, it's time to start shopping around for work. Call your local newspapers and anyone else that would ever have to hire a professional photographer, and find out who is in charge of the hiring. Try to meet this person or at least send them your portfolio. All it takes is one person to like your work and hire you.


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