What is the first thing you start to think about when you go out and cover a sport? For me, I have to remember why I'm there. I may be hired by the team or the school. I may be shooting for a wire service and need to be mindful of both teams. Or maybe there is a story within the game like a player about to break a record. All of these change the approach of how, where, and what I shoot for a game. Where do you start?
I'm sorry to break it to you, but if you show up and just plan on shooting you will end up spending more time editing and culling through your images. Take a few moments to do some research and let that drive your shoot. Be selective in what you shot and even more so what you post. Remember - Show your best work. ALWAYS. You don't win any points for posting galleries with 300 images when over half are out of focus or have poor composition. So Your Best Work!
Arizona College Prep has their home opener in their new stadium. A brand new campus. Brand new uniforms. Brand new season. Here is your story.
AIA Week 1August 27, 2021: Sabion @ ACP - AIA Week 1 @ Arizona College Prep - Chandler, Arizona. Cameron McDonald (Senior) leads Arizona College Prep out of the tunnel for their home opener at their brand new stadium.
Photography is art. Art is subjective. That being said, when covering sports, avoid shooting the backs of players. The emotion is in the face and the eyes. Here is Cameron McDonald leading his team onto the field.
AIA Week 1August 27, 2021: Sabion @ ACP - AIA Week 1 @ Arizona College Prep - Chandler, Arizona. ACP first game on their new stadium during sunset. Arizona always provides amazing sunsets. Since I was there as a freelance for MaxPreps, I am able to go on both sides of the field. If you are a team photographer or a student for the school, I wouldn't recommend going to the visitor side. Knowing that the home team is on the west side of the field I moved to the visitor sides for this sunset shot. I waited until the ambient light was in the same range as the stadium lights. I was able to capture an image that showed the sunset gradient while not sacrificing the lighting from the field.
This is a football game and you need to get action shots. I have a mental checklist of images I want to provide. Always be ready for something to happen, but if you have a plan, you will shoot with purpose and will come away with better images.
AIA Week 1August 27, 2021: Sabion @ ACP - AIA Week 1 @ Arizona College Prep - Chandler, Arizona. Crew for the first home game for ACP. Get the refs. They are just as excited to be on the field as the players. Plus, this is a perfect time to introduce yourself and let them know you will be shooting the game. It's better to be proactive with the refs. You don't ever want to get in the way or be a distraction. They will be running down the sideline so always give them a lane. They can remove you from the game.
AIA Week 1August 27, 2021: Sabion @ ACP - AIA Week 1 @ Arizona College Prep - Chandler, Arizona. Every game starts with the coin toss and handshake. Sometimes the players have their helmets off. You can get up close if you have a wide-angle lens.
AIA Week 1August 27, 2021: Sabion @ ACP - AIA Week 1 @ Arizona College Prep - Chandler, Arizona. Derek Sanchez, Senior at Sabino High, carries the ball for Sabino High school against ACP. Shoot low, and get to know the team and who their targets are. Getting there early and watching them warm up helps a lot. And taking time to read about the school will help you find out who their high-performing athletes are. Here is Derek Sanchez from Sabino High School. I'm able to capture his eyes because I'm shooting from my knees. If I were to stay standing his eyes would be in shadow.
Lastly, try to get peek action. Everyone loves a hero shot. AIA Week 1August 27, 2021: Sabion @ ACP - AIA Week 1 @ Arizona College Prep - Chandler, Arizona. Derek Sanchez covers Jerron Salazar. Sabino was able to win against ACP's home opener 28-6. Click here to view the complete game gallery between Sabino High at Arizona College Prep.
I'll be blogging again with more information about my settings and gear as it pertains to sports photography.
Michael Cazare is a professional photographer who covers sports, weddings, portraits, and headshots. He shoots in Southern California and Metro Arizona.