Catching a surfer on a wave just before the crest falls, capturing the strength and tension in a climber’s fingers as they grip the edge of rock – conveying this excitement, drama and emotion is what Extreme Sports Photography is. Whether it is capturing a skateboarder in action at the park, a mountain biker navigating the terrain or a skier on the slopes, Extreme Sports Photography is about getting close and using creative angles to capture the action of the moment. The best photographs are well-timed and are a result of being able to anticipate the right moments.
If Extreme Sports Photography interests you then check out this post on ‘Top 10 tips on Sports Photography from a Pro’ by acclaimed Sports Photographer, Rammohan Paranjape . Canvera sincerely appreciates Rammohan’s valuable contribution to Canvera Blog.
Introduction to Extreme Sports Photography:
Extreme Sports Photography isn’t just about capturing fast paced action shots of athletes but capturing the essence of their emotions, endeavour and determination with great technical and artistic skills. India is still warming up to various extreme sports and only a handful of younger generation have taken unto surfing, skateboarding, BMX, mountain biking, parkour and various other water & mountain sports.
Amidst the growing number of extreme sport athletes in India there is a dearth for talented photographers to document the growing movement. To be a successful extreme sports photographer it requires 100% commitment from a photographer who is ready to risk all and sweat as much as athletes do.
Great action images are produced by anticipating and getting as close to the action as possible with creative angles for stunning compositions and using light to your advantage to highlight the athlete in action. Other techniques like burst mode, motion blur and being able to shoot proficiently on land, water and air helps to cover most of the extreme sports.
Extreme Sports Photography is definitely not for the faint-hearted and have a certain amount of danger involved. There are great heights, depths, speed and stunts involved. Only a genuine interest in extreme sports can make a photographer successful in this field.
1) Know Your Sport
First & foremost thing as a sports photographer is that you must be very knowledgeable and passionate about sports or a particular sport you specialize in. Say, if you are passionate about soccer or cricket and if you happen to shoot those more often, your work will showcase that passion & perfection in that particular sport as compared to others.
2) Your Gear Matters
Unlike, other genres of photography Sports Photography requires some high end equipment and there isn’t a lot of shortcuts to that. Sports Photography is all about capturing that perfect moment of athletes in action. So, you will need those fast f/ 2.8 lenses, long tele-lenses, cameras with high fps and you can’t even compromise with your memory cards or tripods. Everything matters!
3) Don’t Blink
Yes, Sports Photography is all about keenly following and anticipating what’s going to happen next and making sure not to miss any of the key moments of a game or an individual’s peak performance. You need to pay complete attention to everything happening in front of you and literally not blink.
4) Common Settings For Sports Photography
There is no one particular method to shoot but there are some basic settings which is commonly used by sports/action photographers. Make sure you always shoot at high burst with continuous shoot mode on, higher shutter speed, centre focus with AI Servo which tracks focus on moving subjects.
5) Try Different
As a sports photographer shooting alongside so many other photographers, You don’t want your photos just like the next guy who’s shooting beside you, right ? Hence, You may have to bend low, get close, move around, find a vantage point, try different composition, try motion blur and may have to try different things in order to stand out from the crowd.
6) Incorporate Your Surrounding
What truly makes an action image or a particular moment of an athlete more memorable is when the surrounding is captured within the frame. It could be jovial fans expressing their emotions, landscape, stadium and other unique elements which may add more character to your action frame.
7) Keep Up With Technology
Nowadays, being a sports photographer isn’t just about having a good DSLR and a range of lenses. Most of the action photographers are embracing newer camera technology i.e Drones, water cameras, GoPro’s etc.. in order to achieve the maximum result while shooting sports.
8) Practice, Practice!
You can only get better by practicing and there’s no shortcut to that. Take every opportunity which comes your way, initially you may have little or no returns but as you gain more experience, knowledge and build your portfolio; you will succeed.
9) Get Inspired
There’s a lot of amazing action/sports photographers who are doing some mind-blowing work out there. In this age of social media, you can easily connect, follow and even interact with some of the best in the world. Follow their work to get inspired and it sure will help you become a better photographer.
10) Stay Fit, Stay Healthy
You may have the best equipment & knowledge but if you aren’t fit enough to keep up with athletes or unable to spend an entire day on the field in extreme conditions then it may defeat the purpose of being a sports photographer. By staying healthy and being fit you will maximize your opportunities as a successful sports photographer.
By Rammohan Paranjape
Rammohan Paranjape is a self-taught photographer whose journey as a photographer began in his early teens. With travel, adventure and surfing being his muse, Ram has extensively traveled and documented some amazing expeditions and extreme sports across India. He is widely inspired by offbeat landscapes, ocean and extreme adventures. He is consistently sought after by National Geographic, Redbull & various international publications around the world.