A little grumble about sports photography... don’t take this personally; I wasn’t thinking about anyone in particular or any particular post / photo when I wrote this.
Having spent altogether too much time hanging around various internet photography forums I’ve been finding myself disappointed by many of the photos that turn up in the “sports” photo sharing sections. It seems that in many people’s opinion, catching a bit of action makes something a “great shot” regardless of the other qualities of the photo. I disagree.
Catching action is important, yes, but then so are all of the other things that normally go to make up a photo. Exposure needs to be correct – no blown highlights or impenetrable shadows. White balance needs to be sorted so the whites are white. It needs to be in focus, please, get it in focus! Get the framing right, no vast empty areas in the frame, please; concentrate the viewer’s eye on the action. Sort the horizon out unless they really are playing on the side of a mountain. Watch the distracting backgrounds. Use depth of field to isolate your subject.
If it’s a field sport you need to see expressions and faces, it is about people. Two guys jumping for a ball is no use if all you can see is the back of their head! It might be good action but it’s not a good photo! Except in certain specialist markets, photographs of people’s rear ends are not desirable. What is the relevance of your photo? A photo of two guys running along a track is great but not if they finished 14th and 15th!
This is a plea, really. Think about your sports photography and apply all the same criteria to a sports photo that you would to a portrait or landscape. Just catching action is not enough. Anyone can crank up the shutter speed, set the camera to spray and pray and nail the shutter release down. Catching action is the easy part, creating a good sports photo is just a bit more difficult.