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Shooting College Sports

I first wrote this for someone when they had the opportunity to shoot a Tribe ice hockey game for the first time. Given the similarities (fast-paced, poorly-lit, indoor action with lots of movement and physical contact), I have updated it to include basketball. Review all sections, though, and tailor the seemingly irrelevant information to your situation.

First, you’re going to have a blast!

Shooting indoor sports is a challenge: bad light and fast action. But, if you stay focused, you’ll be fine.

Simple goal: 50-70 good photos. You might have to shoot 500-600. You can’t overshoot. Take plenty of cards.

Settings (to start – adjust as necessary once you get a sense of what your camera is capable of doing):
TV mode: iso1250 and shutter speed 1/500.
AV mode: iso1250 and aperture f/2.8

Ice Hockey:
The biggest problem is that the glass around the link is pretty scratched up and if you don’t keep your lens up close to it, or touching, you can get bad reflections.

If you put your lens up to the glass, be ready to jump back because players crash into the wall all the time. That glass is flexible to keep from hurting the players when they hit hit, but that also means that it can bend right into you, even if you aren’t touching it. Be mindful.

The best place to shoot is in the team’s box because there isn’t any glass. You just have to pay attention so as not to catch a puck in the face.

Also, try to get some shots from behind the goal cage.

Even if you’re invited or tempted, don’t go out on the ice with a camera. One slip and that gear is toast.

Look for peak action, when bodies collide, when players knock someone off their feet.

Try to follow the puck, but also spend time following each individual player until you think you have a good shot or two of each player.

Face-offs are always good action.

Look for high emotion (especially after a score).

Look for players yelling and cheering.

There are 3 periods. Use some of the in-between time to review and field delete images that don’t work.

I know sometimes all that equipment gets pretty heavy and tiring to lug around. As the 70-200 is going to give you the best shots, I would suggest using it in the 1st and 3rd periods, and using the 24-70 during the 2nd period.

Take a scarf. I’m not kidding. It’s easier to take stuff off than to not have it and need it.

There is a LOT (I mean A LOT) of construction on I-64, so allow some extract time to get there. And be sure to park in a well-lit spot.

Get there early enough to shoot them warming up so you can start to get an idea as to what to expect at game time.

Look at these to get an idea of what you’re looking for.

You can shoot from the baseline, the concourse, and the seats. You can grab shots from *almost* anywhere, but do not stand in any place for more than a shot or two if you may be blocking someone’s view. (Never shoot an entire event from one place. Try out as many places as you can until you find 3-4 that work for you, that will give you a good, interesting perspective.)

You can walk behind the team benches and the court-side seating, but you cannot stand there while the game is being played.

You can go out on the court before the game starts, during timeouts, and during the half. This is especially true to get photos of the fan events that take place on court.

You can shoot from anywhere on the baseline, as long as you are sitting (or kneeling, if behind someone who is sitting): underneath the basket, the middle, or the corners. (Be mindful of the cheerleaders/dancers – you don’t want to get kicked…)

Look for peak action, when shots are made, rebounds are grabbed, when bodies are in the air, when people are diving, when people are wrestling for the ball, when people are flying out of bounds.

Try to follow the ball, but also spend time following each individual player until you think you have a good shot or two of each player.

Look for high emotion (especially after a score).

Look for players yelling and cheering, either on the floor or on the bench.

Make sure you get at least one good shot of each coach.

Try to get a shot of each coach doing something other than following the game (like coaching someone or reacting to play or interacting with each other).

Use some of the time-out time to review and field delete images that don’t work.

Get there early enough to shoot them warming up so you can start to get an idea as to what to expect at game time, especially in terms of lighting conditions.

Do a Google search to see what types of action images you can try for: college basketball action photos

Go to the team’s website to see what they’ve gotten before:

Do be careful; as long as you pay attention, I’m sure you’ll do fine and have fun!

In addition to action, look for player candids, especially interaction between 2 or more players.

In addition to action photography, follow the action off the floor!

Get some documentary photos that show the arena capacity (full or not).

Get some photos that make it look like the place is packed.

Get crowd photos that show the range of fans: young, old, student, etc.

Get crowd reaction photos, especially after a bad call or a massive 3-pointer.

Try to get shots of cheerlead-crowd interaction (like the pizza delivery or throwing/catching t-shirts).

Look for interesting face/body makeup.

Get Tribe gear shots (hats, shirts, pins, etc.)

Get shots of any students that really stand out.

Be on the lookout for any students (or other fans) that are SERIOUSLY into the game…

Look for photos of people working the event, either broadcasting, reporting, photographing (yes, the other photographers doing what they’re doing), sweeping the floor, etc.

Get photos of the cheerleaders, both on the baseline and on the floor. Get the dancers, too. They will perform on the floor at some point.

Get photos of the pep band, especially if they perform on the floor.

Don’t forget to get some feature photos of sticks, gloves, pucks, helmets, skates, balls, shoes – whatever items help tell the story of the game.

TRY THIS: In TV mode: shutter speed 1/80. Pan moving players! It takes practice, but can produce some absolutely amazing killer shots.

Remember, it’s not just the game, it’s the story of the game.

If you are shooting for a team:

Things to keep in mind:
Do not be timid. Just because you are not experienced does not mean you do not belong there. Just be mindful of where you are and respectful of the others working the event.

Shoot like this is a major, one-time portfolio assignment. Just get in the moment and make it yours. Look, see, and shoot.

Do review your shots as you shoot to make sure your settings are getting you decent, acceptable exposures. If you are running into any problems, CALL ME! I am here to help and you are not expected to be a fully-polished professional action sports shooter.

Know your gear and its capabilities, pay attention as you go along, making adjustments as necessary and you’ll be able to figure it out and will do just fine.

Lastly, believe in yourself! You CAN do this and you CAN have fun!

Good luck!

PS: make sure your batteries are charged (if you have concerns, take a charger).