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Sports Photography – Part 1: The Basics

Robert Zanzalari (zanz34)

Keywords: sports_photography, zanz34

This is the first part of the series on Sports Photography.

Sports photography, and photography in general, have become a passion. My first Nikon DSLR was the venerable D300 with the 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 G-AFS ED IF VR lens purchased in September 2008. I eagerly learned everything I could about the camera’s capabilities and couldn’t wait to try my hand. You see, I was driven by the opportunity to photograph my sons whom had just begun to embark in participation with their Middle and High School teams.


Click for an enlargement


Sports photography refers to the genre of photography that covers all types of sports. For this article, I hope to share my experiences with field sports (football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, and softball); indoor sports (basketball, swimming, wrestling, volleyball); motor sports (in this instance drag racing); and horse racing. By no means am I an expert in any one (as my photos will attest, continued practice is warranted.) Rather, I have experienced each and hope to relay guidelines for those that are interested in trying their hand with one. For additional insights, I highly recommend joining or viewing the Sports Forum. You will be exposed to many other perspectives and have access to additional information that will deepen your knowledge.

When learning about a subject, I tend to want to know details, considerations, or pieces of information which to some may seem as unimportant matters. Did you know, professional sports photography is a branch of photojournalism, while amateur sports photography, such as photographing your children or grandchildren playing a sport is a branch of vernacular photography? As my entre’ into photography falls into the latter branch (equipment investment needed to become a professional sports photographer is substantial), it is with vernacular photography in mind that I write this article.

For the record, professional sports photography’s main application is for editorial purposes. Dedicated sports photographers work for newspapers, sports magazines, major wire agencies, or professional sport teams. Sports photography is also used for advertising purposes both to build a brand and as well as to promote sport in a way that cannot be accomplished by other means.

To read the rest of the article, please log in. This article is available to all Silver, Gold and Platinum Nikonians members. If you are not registered yet, please do so. To discover the world of Nikonians and the advantages of being a registered member, take our short discovery tour.


Robert Zanzalari (zanz34) on October 18, 2019

Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his generous donation to the 2019 Fundraising Campaign

Hello everyone. I hope you are finding this article to be interesting and informative. I most welcome your comments, feedback, and personal experiences as my intent was to use this as a forum to give back because of all the contributions made by the many outstanding members from which I have personally gained a tremendous amount of knowledge. I would like to alert you to a typographical error in the equipment table. There is duplication of a "D7500". The second entry should have read "D750. Thank you Ralph for catching this.

Bob Chadwick (Bob Chadwick) on October 17, 2019

I like your comments of the proverbial hunt for the Grail, the ball on the bat. I don't shoot as much sports as I used to but I can remember chasing that shot to the exclusion of almost all other player at bat shots. What I found is that when I did get that shot, I almost always missed the face and expression that went with it because the player was looking down, the helmet brim got in the way, etc. I have since come to the conclusion that there are several decisive moments when shooting a batter and not just that one.

Ralph Butschko (rbutschk) on October 17, 2019

Thank you, Robert, for your instructive article. In the table the D7500 is mentioned twice. The second time should be the D750, I guess. Greetings from Berlin! Ralph