Glasgow Warriors have moved home from Firhill to Scotstoun this season and kicked off their season against Scarlets. The result wasn’t really what they were hoping (losing 13-18) for and the pressure of winning their first home game was made clear, especially in the press. Firhill had become a fortress where the opposition knew they would be in for a tough game. The last match at Firhill took place on the weekend of the innaugural glasgow 7’s tournament (at Scotstoun) and I was fortunate enough to attend both events, yes it was a long day! There only appeared to be a handful of photographers at the final match at Firhill (most were at the 7’s tournament), the first match at Scotstoun saw about 20 photographers , mostly agency , press and freelance.
Having recently carried out some work for Kidz in Sport over the last few months doing team and individual shots and previous experience with Shrewsbury Rugby Club over the last few years I’ve decided to put down some thoughts on the process of shooting sports teams and individuals.
Generally it’s good and polite to arrive early; at least 30 minutes before the arranged time, after double checking and confirming the time that the team is expecting you.
This gives you time to survey the area, look for a suitable location, check the weather conditions, check the lighting conditions, where the shadows are likely to fall, check equipment so that you are ready to go when the team is ready.
I’ve generally found that one or two people from a team will be late, sports kit will need to be changed into and coaches will have more on their mind than a photoshoot so it is essential to be quick and professional.
These are fairly basic rules, not hard and fast, but there is quite a lot to remember and with experience, these will become second nature.
Generally these tips will apply to both team and individual although the pose for the team and individual will have to be pre-planned on the pre shoot survey – ideally beforehand or on the day.
I have found it easier to do the team shoot first so that everyone is together to enable a “line-up” for individual shots – the other way round and you have to try to get the team back together which can be tricky.
Names, if required can be taken and written by the coaches if possible – this keeps them busy while you are in charge of their team for a while.
Battery charged, lenses clean, enough clear memory cards – basic camera bag checks before leaving for the shoot
Ensure everybody is present, who needs to be (someone will always be late in a team!)
Direct the shoot – generally coaches ask – ok where do you want us? – Of course you will already know this having done the survey
Be as quick and efficient as you can, you really need to be thinking on your feet – there may be other more important things like a match or training to consider.
If shooting youngsters – parents can be an obstacle – they all have cameras or want to take pictures on their mobile – plan to go where parents can’t – on the pitch is sometimes good if possible
Flash is essential piece of kit especially if shooting into the sun, generally if the subject is looking into the sun they will end up squinting!
Check the shadows on everyone’s face if it is a team shot, adjust the people if required to allow good facial lighting
Use a ball, trophey or piece of equipment associated with the sport – this also helps put the subject at ease.
Check background is clear and doesn’t interfere with subject
Make the team look good – try to get everyone kneeling on the same knee, all shirt sleeves rolled down, all arms crossed, sponsor and club badge visible, all team in the same kit, – all the same whatever the rules.
Balance tall and not so tall people in the frame of the shot – balance the goalkeeper (usually different colour top) – prop a ball or trophy in front of the team – equal numbers in equal rows
Try to get everyone to smile pleasantly, look at the camera and don’t blink for 5 minutes (usually gets a laugh!) take several shots – someone always blinks!
If the team are youngsters then try to avoid having the coaches in the shot– unless they are sitting to keep the height balanced.
Shoot a close shot with a 35/50mm filling the frame then go further back and zoom up to 80mm – longer if necessary to get a good fill of the viewfinder – Kneel down to shoot to add to the aspect.
For individual shots suggest your subject kneels on one knee with hand on a ball for example – shoot from above to get a clean background of – well, ground!
Generally, sports people are not too keen on posing as they would rather be doing – sports, but with a bit of persuasion and “banter” you should be able to get them on your side and they usually do like the results.
– remember time is short and they want to do what they do best and you want to do your best to make them look good!
the screenshot above doesn’t follow all the rules – “but practice makes perfect.”
Follow up with web and print sales opportunities and discuss future opportunities for action shots, tournaments and annual visits.
Always be natural, polite and enthusiastic.
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