How to Take Sports Portraits that Pop!

A lot of people think that sports photography is all about the action. And while it’s true that you need to be able to capture the feeling of the game, there’s a lot more to it than that. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to take sports portraits that really pop!

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Whether you’re shooting a youth game or a professional athlete, there are some simple things you can do to make sure your sports portraits really pop! With a little bit of planning and attention to detail, you can capture dynamic and flattering shots that will bring out the best in your subject.

What You’ll Need

To take great sports portraits, you’ll need a few things: a good camera, a fast lens, and plenty of light. You’ll also need to be able to get close to your subject and have a good understanding of composition. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Setting Up

Getting your lighting right is critical for any portrait, but especially for a moving target. When taking sports portraits, you want to make sure you have enough light to freeze the action, but not so much that it washes out your subject. Many professional photographers use strobes triggered by a pocket wizard to get the perfect light, but if you don’t have access to that kind of equipment, natural light will do just fine.

The best time of day to take pictures outside is early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky and creates a nice, warm light. If you’re shooting midday, try to find some shade to avoid harsh shadows on your subject’s face.

Once you have your location and lighting sorted out, it’s time to set up your camera. If you’re using a DSLR, put it in manual mode so that you can control the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. A good starting point is an aperture of f/8, a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second and an ISO of 100. From there, you can adjust according to the amount of light available and how fast your subject is moving. A faster shutter speed will freeze action, but will also require more light, so it’s a balance that you’ll have to play with.

If you don’t have a DSLR camera or access to one, don’t worry! You can still get great action shots with a point-and-shoot or even your smartphone. Just make sure the camera has a sports mode (sometimes called “action mode”) that will help freeze the action.

Taking The Photo

Before you take the photo, think about what you want the final product to look like. Do you want a close up of the player’s face? Or do you want a wide shot that shows the player and their surroundings? Once you know what you want, you can start setting up your camera.

For a close up, you’ll want to use a long lens so that you can get close to the action without being in the way. If you’re using a DSLR, something in the 85-200mm range should work well. For a wide shot, you’ll want something shorter, around 35mm. Again, this will vary depending on the camera you’re using.

Once you have your lens sorted out, it’s time to focus on your composition. In general, you’ll want to avoid putting the subject right in the center of the frame. Instead, try using the ” Rule of Thirds .” This means positioning your subject off to one side so that they take up about 1/3 of the frame.

You may also want to experiment with different angles. For instance, instead of taking a head-on shot, try getting down low and shooting up at your subject. This can give your photo some extra drama and make your subject look more imposing.

Finally, Pay attention to what’s going on in the background . You don’t want anything too distracting taking away from your main subject. If there are any bright colors or patterns, see if you can position yourself so they aren’t in frame. Sometimes all it takes is moving a few steps to one side or the other.


In this digital age, anyone with a camera can take a decent photo. But if you really want your sports portraits to stand out, you need to put some time and effort into editing them.

There are a few things you can do to make your sports portraits pop. First, make sure the colors are vibrant and the lighting is flattering. Second, crop the photo so it’s interesting and pleasing to the eye. Third, use creative effects sparingly to add excitement.

With a little time and effort, you can turn an ordinary photo into a stunning portrait that will wow your friends and family!

Tips & Tricks

good sports photography is more than just snapping a picture of someone in action. It’s about using the right techniques to capture the emotion, energy and excitement of the game. Here are some tips and tricks to help you take sports portraits that pop!

1. Get in close. When you’re taking a picture of someone in action, you want to be close enough to see the details of their expression and the power in their movement. Use a telephoto lens or zoom in as much as you can without sacrificing image quality.

2. Use a fast shutter speed. A fast shutter speed will freeze the action and help prevent blurring. A good rule of thumb is to use a shutter speed that is at least 1/500th of a second, but faster is even better.

3. Use continuous shooting mode. Continuous shooting mode allows you to take multiple pictures in quick succession, which is helpful when trying to capture a moving target. Many cameras have a continuous shooting mode that can take 3-5 frames per second, which should be plenty for most sports photography purposes.

4. Plan your shots ahead of time. If you know what kind of action you’re going to be photographing, it will be easier to anticipate the moments you want to capture and be ready with your camera settings dialed in ahead of time. For example, if you’re going to be photographing a football game, you might want to focus on the wide receiver making a catch or the quarterback throwing a pass. If you’re going to be photographing a basketball game, you might want to focus on a player driving to the basket or dunking the ball. By thinking about the types of shots you want ahead of time, you’ll be better prepared when they actually happen.


Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to take amazing sports portraits, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Get out there and start shooting! Remember to experiment with different techniques, lighting setups, and compositions to find what works best for you. With a little practice, you’ll be taking photographs that are sure to impress.

Further Reading

If you’re looking for more tips on how to take great sports portraits, be sure to check out these articles:

-5 Tips for Shooting Stunning Sports Portraits
-How to Prepare for Shooting a Sports Event
-10 Tips for Capturing Amazing Sports Photography

About The Author

Thomas Leuthard is a professional freelance photographer from Switzerland who specializes in street and documentary photography. Thomas has been teaching people how to take great photos for over 10 years, and his work has been featured in acclaimed publications like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, and more. His first book, “The Street Photography Bible” was published in 2019.

If you’re looking to take your sports photography to the next level, check out these related posts:

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