Portfolio Worthy Photographs



I capture plenty of photographs in the games that I shoot. However, only a select are worthy to be included in a sports photography portfolio. I believe showing action is an important aspect of a portfolio worthy photo. The photo above was the one that got me noticed by the newspaper I freelance for now over three years ago.

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Showing the emotion of an athlete is also important to me. Sports are full of emotions and our job as sports photographers is to show this emotion in our photographs. A photograph without emotion tends to be lifeless and boring. Bring emotion into a photograph and it just seems to come to life!

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I also learned that showing the face and eyes is critical for a photo to come close to being great. The eyes often reveal some of the intense emotion in an athlete. The old saying is “the eyes are windows to the soul.” Well, to me, the eyes are a key element in a great portfolio worthy photograph.

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A great photograph tells a story. The action is this photograph shows the catcher putting the tag on the baserunner while the umpire is looking on before calling the out at the plate! What a story it tells! It also helps that some additional elements like emotion and eyes are included in this action shot.

I know that not every photo I capture will be portfolio worthy, but I am finding that the more I keep these key elements in mind while shooting a game, my success rate increases. I am capturing more quality, winning photographs these days. I attribute this to practice, practice, and more practice. I am not quite there yet, but someday I plan on having a perfect day from behind my camera!

Hit by Pitch – in Softball & Baseball!

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Do these two photographs look similar? They were published in the Pocono Record about one year apart.

Both batters were hit by an inside pitch that completely knocked their helmet off their head! It was a scary moment in each game, but both players were able to stay in the game, none too much for the wear.

Softball and baseball can be a scary game at times, but these athletes take it all in stride. They expect a lot of themselves and put some incredible talent between the lines at every game. Our hats should be off to them (seriously!).

Here is the sequence of photos from each batter getting hit by the pitch:

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Showing the Action in Sports Photography

I really like the challenge of capturing the action of a game with my camera. I always say that each game has a unique story to tell as it unfolds and it is our job to capture that action as sports photographers. It isn’t always easy and there are plenty of things that can go wrong, but there is something mighty special that happens when it all comes together!

Athletes try to put their best game on the field, so shouldn’t we sports photographers attempt to do the same thing, too? Paying attention to every play is a start, but I also think it is a mindset as well. I can tell when my mind starts to wander or when I am not quite in the right mindset during a game. I have to readjust my thinking and sometimes my attitude. The very next play could be the big one!

Capturing the action on the field is all about being ready, good planning and timing, and even a little luck along the way. It is definitely a challenge to tell the game’s story with our photography, but I enjoy and embrace this challenge wholeheartedly as a sports photographer.

Do you think these photographs show the action of the game? Do they tell the game story adequately? What do you think about these photos?

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Football Action Photos

Millersville v. East Stroudsburg UniverstiyAnother college game produced some great action for me to photograph this past Saturday as East Stroudsburg hosted Millersville.

It was not a close game–ESU ran away with it actually. But the action was thrilling nevertheless! I was more successful in following the action with my camera and the athletes provided some great action on the field!

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What do you think about these action photos?

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Photo of the Month Posted

I posted the most recent Photo of the Month on my Perfect Game Photos website.

This monthly feature shows a sports photograph that I like with a story behind it. I simply show a photo and then add some text to help tell the story why this particular photograph made the cut. It is a feature I enjoy including on my sports site and I find it encourages me to keep trying for better photographs month after month.

You can see more of my sports portfolio here.

 

Ball in the Action


Some of my favorite sports photographs include the ball in the action!

It is exciting to pony up to the challenge of capturing these shots and while it might take a great deal of effort and good timing, the success is rewarding! I always believe that every game has a story to tell and part of our job as photographers is to capture and tell the story through our lenses. I will take this even one step further: each and every play also has a story to tell! Think about it… a quarterback drops back to attempt a pass, the line is fighting off the pass rush and maybe even a corner blitz, the receivers are running their routes, and the defensive backs are defending their territories. Isn’t there a fascinating storyline in here?

One of the best ways I find to tell the story of a play is to include the ball in the image. Not only does this help tell a specific detail about the play, but it adds action to the photograph like nothing else can accomplish. All eyes are on the ball–both in the field and in the image! Now this might sound easy, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Just try to capture a sharp image of a moving ball on a Friday night under the lights! The challenge is still worth the effort, however. That’s why you will see me along the sidelines week after week trying to get to capture the ball in the action!

New Photo of the Month

Now that May is over, I posted a new Photo of the Month on my Perfect Game Photos website.

Each month I sift through all my sports photos and present one of the best as the Photo of the Month. I then post the photo on the website and add a description about the photograph. This past month’s photograph is Pleasant Valley baseball player, Howie Stevens, laying down a bunt.

Bunting might seem rather mundane and unexciting, but look at the action in this photograph. The dust cloud coming off the bat dispels the rumor that bunting is boring. I believe the photo shows the drama and excitement in the ordinary bunt. What do you think?

Sports Photography – Sometimes It Just Clicks!

I enjoy sports photography. I like sports, I played sports, I coached sports, and now I photograph sports.

Sometimes, every once in a while, things just click in sports photography. Yes, need to know the game we are shooting, try to anticipate where the action will be next, obtain the absolute best shooting position–you know, the whole nine yards. Even then, when all seems to be going just right, a photo can be out of focus, or an umpire or coach steps right in the way of the action. I know because I’ve experienced this more times than I can count.

But then, every once in a great while, things just click in sports photography!

The above photo was captured at the Pleasant Valley vs. Northwestern Lehigh high school baseball scrimmage. The weather was gorgeous and it was a perfect day for baseball. Spring has about sprung, and the new baseball season is nearly under way officially. How could a sports photographer complain on a day like this?

One of my goals in sports photography is to try my best to get the baseball in the frame of the photograph whenever possible. This helps to show the action even in a still photo. It’s even better when the player’s eyes are focused on the ball and the ball is in complete focus in the frame. Of course, this just doesn’t happen all the time, but it is a worthy goal in my humble sports photo opinion.

On this particular swing, I knew the batter broke his bat. Everyone could hear it and one fan even said so to me. Yep, the bat was broken, but I did not realize I capture “the moment” until I was editing the shoot on my computer back in my office. Then, as soon as my eyes saw this photo, I knew I had captured “the moment.”

Let’s first talk about what’s wrong with this photo. First of all, it contains that dreaded baseball background–the chain-link fence. I hate these backgrounds. It looks more like a dog fence than something that ought to be in a photograph. Who let the dogs out anyhow? Secondly, the baseball is not in focus, not even close. Third, the catcher’s arm is cut off and appears to be floating in the air all by itself. Yuck!

But even with all that, I like this photograph. The player is in focus and the ball leaving the broken bat tells the story well and almost exudes action! As a matter of fact, when I look at this photo I swear I can almost hear the crack of the bat hitting that baseball!

Now the next photograph wouldn’t mean much without seeing the one right before it. But now this last photo helps to tell the story of this at-bat. And you thought you carried a big stick!