Jennifer called me with a photo request I had not received before: Her twin daughters play soccer for Lexington FC, and she wanted to get photos of them in action. She was frustrated trying to do that with her camera.
“They all just come out blurry,” she said.
So, she asked if I’d come out and photograph her girls in a a game.
Since I haven’t really billed myself as a sports photographer, I showed her a private gallery of pics I shot at my son’s soccer games last fall and work I had done for the Bryan Station High School Cross Country team so she could evaluate whether she wanted to hire me.
There’s a reason many sports photos shot from the sidelines turn out to be underwhelming. Most cameras are not set up for sports photography, even if that have that little action symbol on the mode-selector dial. A lot of consumer-grade DSLRs also come up short as sports cameras, because to get consistently good action you need a body that will shoot quick bursts of images – think 7 frames-per-second or more – and lenses that will instantly adjust to the action.
And that’s just the gear. Then you need a shooter with experience following action and knowing how to frame and capture that image so that it has the same impact as having a front-row seat at the game. Like I said, I don’t claim to be an accomplished sports photographer – and considering that at the Herald-Leader, I work with the best sports photographers in Central Kentucky, I know what that designation means. But I was thrilled when after reviewing some of my shots, Jennifer said she wanted me to come out and shoot a game.
I was even more thrilled with the Relient K day – Sunny with a high of 75 – that Saturday at the Winchester Classic turned out to be, reminding me why I love to be outside taking pictures in the fall.
This was a bit of a different experience from photographing my kids’ teams, because in those situations, I usually shoot the whole event and send images to the coach. Here, I was focusing on two players, but Maddie and Taylor are fierce competitors, so tracking them provided many opportunities for satisfying action shots.
And that was clearly what Jennifer wanted. Most teams that my kids have been involved with brought out a portrait photographer for the team shots and kneeling-with-the-ball individual photographs. But I have never seen one bring out a photographer to cover a game or two and get the action. But I know as a parent, those are images I really like – give me the shot of my kid getting the big steal or crossing the finish line.
Jennifer felt the same way, and it turned out to be a cool gig.