If you’re shooting in a windowless gym and a client’s directive calls for nostalgic early morning light, you have to get creative. Trial, error, and experience bring it all together. “You start seeing and understanding the light. Then you start understanding what the strobe flash might do. That comes from using it over and over,” photographer Brendan Coughlin explains. “Google other photographers’ lighting setups and see how they can apply to your work.”
Be mindful of unique challenges that may arise in sports photography. Reflective technology on sportswear is visible only when the angle of incidence for how the light reflects is direct, like a person behind the wheel and their headlights. To capture this effect in product photography, strobe lighting needed for studio shoots won’t work. “We use a ring flash on the camera body, so whichever angle you’re pointed at, your camera picks up the hyper-reflective,” Coughlin says. “The light is always there without affecting the rest of your environment too much.”
Breaking into sports photography.
Whether your goal is shooting professional sports or capturing photos of your local pickup game, the desire to put sport on film is how you begin building your skills and making connections.
“Passion for the sport comes first — picking up a camera and working on that specific sport. You’ll begin to meet people who love that sport and have reach or influence within that community,” Thompson suggests. “I loved skateboarding, but I wasn’t the best skateboarder. But by the time I picked up a camera and started to express that, I knew a lot of really good skateboarders. That was my pathway into the skate magazines.”