Welcome to STACK’s short series on basic sports photography for parents. In each of these quick articles, we will do our best to provide tips and advice on how youth sports parents can get great looking photos of their favorite young superstars.
Part 1 focuses on what kind of equipment you need to shoot great photos at your kids’ games.
First off, you don’t need to break the bank to start taking some really nice photos of your kids’ sporting events. Most of us are already carrying a smartphone everywhere we go, so instead of catching up on Facebook during the seventh-inning stretch, aim your phone’s camera at the field and snap some fantastic action shots.
Obviously the latest and greatest smart phones are not cheap, and we’re promising you high-quality photos without spending a ton of money here. If you’re already looking to upgrade your current mobile device to the latest technology, then you’re going to be in better shape. Newer phones offer dual lenses that allow for better zoom and higher resolution. The best photo-shooting smartphones currently on the market include the Google Pixel 3, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Apple’s iPhone XS.
But don’t despair if you’re squeezing as much mileage as possible out of your older-generation phone; you’ll be just fine. The one caveat to this is: Know your device’s limitations. If you’re still using the flip phone you bought when George W. Bush was in office, no amount of techniques or tips are going to make that a serviceable tool for shooting sports action.
Another option that many parents already have is a simple point-and-shoot digital camera. This will work just as well as (and often better than) a camera phone. If you don’t have one, cameras of this type start at about $150.
Those with 35mm DSLR cameras are that much more ahead of the game because those cameras allow you to change lenses to widen your frame or zoom right in on the action to an extent not available with smartphones or simple point-and-shoot cameras. We’re keeping it basic here, though, so we’re not diving into that world, instead trying to help the average mom and dad get scrapbook-worthy images. If you’re packing a Canon or Nikon DSLR with extra lenses, you’ll likely already beyond the scope of this beginner’s guide.
One thing you definitely don’t need is a flash. Most events you’ll shoot will be outdoors with plenty of light, but if you’re shooting inside for basketball, volleyball, hockey or wrestling, do not use a flash. Ever. The flash can distract the athletes and could lead to missed plays or even injuries. Most modern smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras handle lighting conditions present inside most gymnasiums so you’re not going to need the flash anyway. Be sure to turn it off in your device’s settings.
Next up, we’ll show you exactly how to get those fantastic game action photos!
Photo Credit: Lorado/Getty Images