One of the fun jobs I get to do is to photograph Meridian High School varsity sports. As part of the North West Conference Athletics team of photographers, my home team is Meridian.
Off The Tips:
One of the things I missed most while working for a newspaper is covering prep sports. Not just because some people think it’s easy, but because the kids really got into it.
Safe at Home:
These kids have heart. They have passion and drive. They have desire. Every game counts.
Out at Second:
And you weren’t stuck in one spot to photograph. You can move during the game. Find a better angle. Talk with the parents. Listen to fun stories. You get to really enjoy the soul and spirit of the game.
Comparing HS football, college, and the NFL ( I shot the Tennessee Titans during their first year at Adelphia Stadium in Nashville as well as other pro sports), I believe you can get just as good of photos from any of them. You get good action and reaction. You just have to pay attention.
A Hit at Bat:
Three rules simple rules to help you capture great sports action/reaction photos:
- Know the sport. Understand simple things like if there is a runner on 2nd, they may attempt to run to 3rd or home when they hear the crack of the bat. Where is the smartest play?
- Know the Team. Is the quarterback going to throw long to the wide receiver or hand it off?
- Know the player. Is the left winger fast and aggressive? Do they pass a lot or great at footwork or both?
This is why large metro newspapers have dedicated sports photographers. They not only are great photographers, but they also know the sports and teams they cover.
Learning sports does take time, and with High School, the teams constantly change. Unlike pro sports where you may have several years with minimal roster change, every year the team changes. You can take that as a challenge or an obstacle, I take it as a challenge.
I played baseball and soccer in High School so I know the sports and positions. I like watching both on TV on occasion. But would love to attend regular Seattle Mariner or Sounders games. To be honest, knowing baseball did not help the first time I shot a minor league game.
© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.
Shooting my first pro game was in the mid 80s at the Denver Zephyrs (which moved to New Orleans in 1992). I honestly had no idea what to shoot. I just bought a used 300 f/4 for $100, called the main office and said I wanted to shoot some baseball, they said OK show up at this gate at this time and they’ll escort me to my spot. I was near 3rd base sitting in a patch of grass. I didn’t have a clue at what to shoot. I shot 1/2 a roll of Tri-X and got crap.
Will He Make It?
But as you progress, you learn about the game, what’s the best angle, how to stretch your creativity, how to become a better photographer. Give it time and you will see improvements.
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Paul “pablo” Conrad
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