When you enter the exciting world of sports photography, you will be tempted to look at professional portfolios and you will give into that temptation. In fact you will probably be directed by well meaning individuals to check out certain professional sports photographers websites. You might even purchase a book or two and all of this is ok.
However, what you want to avoid is letting these portfolios intimidate you and make you think, “who am I to be trying to get into sports photography”. Do not let these great images that you will come across ever make you think about giving up. There can never be enough sports photographers to cover the thousands of games that happen every week in all levels from Pee Wee to Professional.
Keep in mind that many top photographers have shot world wide with the best equipment, the best lighting, and the best access for years. Naturally you would expect someone shooting, let’s say, for 25+ years to have great images. Their experience has taught them what images have the greatest impact and which ones editors like. They can almost create them with their eyes closed.
However, what you are seeing in these portfolios is the best of the best. You are not seeing the overexposed, blurry, or missed peak action shots. And, yes, they do have them.
I have looked at numerous portfolios and I can tell you a secret I found…..some of those great shots that people rave about, are in my opinion, not always the cat’s meow. Yes, there are some incredible shots out there that have action, or emotion, or brilliant colors, or spot on composition, but there are also some not so great shots that find their way into portfolios. No, I am not going to link to these photos I feel are lackluster. There is no point to that endeavor.
What I want you to avoid doing is getting hung up on studying these images too much. Look at them, critique them, then move along. If you see elements you like in an image, think about how you might be able to emulate those elements in your own photos..
As an aspiring sports photographer who is probably on a limited budget, it’s more important to get out and shoot and then, with no bias ,critique your photos. This is tough for most photographers to do but it is a crucial part of the learning process.
Now, as I like to state, you can only learn so much from reading and watching videos. At some point, you have to pack up your gear and get out and shoot.
That is what I want you to do right now.