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How to Become an Action Sports Photographer
20.03.2015 12:00 AM

Photography is a hobby that many people dream of turning into a career. To watch skaters tackle a half pipe and capture just the right moments on camera is an amazing feat, but it takes a lot of luck or a lot of motivation to get to that point. If you’re serious about taking your love of sports photography to the next level, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Step One: Get yourself a good camera

No matter how advanced your camera phone is, it’s still not good enough to help you make it in this business. Find yourself a good quality digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, since these are highly-rated by professionals. The DSLR will allow you to survey your subjects through the viewfinder in real-time, and the auto-focus is quicker than in other types of compact cameras.

Step Two: Work past your amateur phase

Face it, nobody becomes a professional anything in a week. Get out there and use your camera! Attend local sporting events where you can get as close as possible to the action, and practice planning your shots as well as capturing a few spontaneous moments. Get out there whenever possible, and learn how to follow and snap great photos of different types of athletes. Experience in a range of sports photography will make you a lot more valuable when it comes time to find clients and jobs.

Step Three: Enroll in a Training Course

Don’t get stressed about this part – there’s no need to “go back to school” or anything like that. It is best for your skill development, however, to get some special training. There are plenty of local photography classes and online courses that take only a few weeks to complete. Just one or two short courses can have a huge impact on the quality of photos you’re turning out.

Step Four: Put together a portfolio

All artists need portfolios, whether their passion is oil painting, short-story writing or action photography. The purpose of this virtual folder (or physical folder, if you like) is to showcase your range and degree of skill. Only select the best of the best of your work for this! This is about quality, not quantity. Wait until you have mastered the basics of your art, and if you aren’t sure whether you are ready to put together a portfolio, ask for advice from a professional photographer.

Step Four: Find some clientele!

While you probably shouldn’t go running to Sports Illustrated and looking for a job just yet, you should be able to find a couple of smaller freelance gigs in the local paper or Craigslist. For something more stable, get in touch with the sports editor of your local newspaper and have him or her take a look at your shiny, new portfolio. Offer your services to local sports teams and event coordinators as well, since they would probably love some professional photos to share on their website, blog or marketing materials.

Action sports photography is a great skill to develop, since it is a niche that constantly needs filling. With a positive attitude, lots of motivation and the willingness to keep learning as you go, you can be a pro in no time. The only way to go is up – what have you got to lose?


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