Story   Photographer   Editor   Student/Intern   Assistant   Job/Item

 Front Page
 Member Index
 Latest Headlines
 Special Features
 'Fun Pix'
 Message Board
 Educate Yourself
 Equipment Profiles
 Classified Ads
 Monthly Clip Contest
 Annual Contest
 Current Issue
 Back Issues
 Members Area
 "The Guide"
About Us:
 About SportsShooter
 Contact Us
 Terms & Conditions

Sign in:
Members log in here with your user name and password to access the your admin page and other special features.



|| News Item: Posted 2009-04-23

Sports Shooter Academy VI: Learn How To Compete
Kelly Cox learned that to really be a photographer, you have to be a business.

By Kelly Cox, University of California

Photo by Kelley Cox

Photo by Kelley Cox

CSU Fullerton Wrestler John Drake.
The most important lessons I can take away from the recent Sports Shooter Academy workshop are how to be a complete photographer. So many guys can get a DSLR, buy long glass, take a whole bunch of pictures, and are bound to get some kind of decent image. But to really be a photographer, you have to be a business.

Dave Black and Lucas Gilman's presentation on business of freelancing, explained how to do this. Dave started with the importance of familiarizing yourself with the sport so you can develop a strategy of who to shoot and when. You know Phelps breathes right except after the first flip turn, position yourself accordingly, you know their idiosyncratic behavior or warm up routine, you know exactly what image every other photographer is going to get, and you give them something different.

Another very important point he made was you MUST use lighting even if you just have one flash. If you can take the flash off camera, you can control the light, control the image and most importantly set yourself apart.

Then Lucas continued talking about his keys to being successful. He said:
1) Start locally, go global
2) Beat the bushes
3) Stay inspired
4) Sell, sell, sell
5) Treat people how you want to be treated. His explanations went as deep as how to find clients, how to be a businessman. Basically, the best way to keep clients returning to you isn't just by taking a good image, you must also be good to work with.

To continue being the complete package, you can't just shoot big action. At some point, you need to be able to take portraits, features, something that may not sell in tomorrow's newspaper but will sell over and over again as a stand alone image. This is the portion of SSA I tried to focus on most. I need to learn lighting and working with the athlete. In theory this should be easier because you don't have to capture the moment, but harder it was hard for me because you have to set up the lights, direct the athlete and create the moment.

Finally to be complete, you can't just be great at shooting baseball, football, and basketball. Your portfolio needs to show the variety of sports you can shoot. Say your client is looking for someone to shoot cycling at the velodrome, if you have shoot horse racing, you're familiar with panning, familiar with people riding on top of a moving object on a track, and your portfolio also includes moments, the client will have more confidence in your capability to cover the velodrome event.

So cover as many events as you can to familiarize yourself and shoot, you might find your niche in windsurfing photographs, be the very best at it, but still be able to cover any event.

Photo by Kelley Cox

Photo by Kelley Cox

AVP Beach Volleyball players and couple Chris Seiffert and Brittany Hochevar in Long Beach, California on April 11, 2009.
For the first time ever, I shot boxing. I wanted to go so I could take the lighting class beforehand at La Habra Boxing Club and then stick around to shoot some of the action in the gym. The interesting thing about boxing is, unless you're shooting Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton at the MGM in Vegas, chances are you're in a small facility where boxers also train. La Habra boxing gym had some big action and good punches to the face but the most important part of this story was La Habra Boxing Club itself.

The character of owner David Martinez, the character of the youth who walked in day to day just for a place to go, the character of the gym itself, an old renovated church donated by the city and supported by community businesses. At the same time that I wanted to get a good hit to face with sweat flying off, maybe even a tooth falling out, I wanted to get the story.

This kind of thinking changed the way I shoot altogether. It's not just luck of getting big action, it's planned out moments where you know big action will happen and it's moments of small action that tell the story. When the faculty was reviewing, photos big action got "nice" but the moments away from the action, be it a kiss after a track event or a resting jockey with overlooking horse, they received "ooooooh, I like that."

Hannah Foslien's photo that won for best photo overall made during the workshop, had lit action in the center, but the rest showed all of La Habra Boxing Club, and really showed the story of the gym, it embodied the lessons of SSA on the first day of shooting!

The faculty critiques really demonstrated why we love sports so much, yes, a part of it is for the big action, but mainly it's for the emotion that surrounds the sport and the athlete. I now strive to have my images tell the whole story and I feeling like I'm slowly learning how to not just take a picture, but make a picture.

(Kelly Cox is a student at the University of California. You can view her work on her member page:

Related Links:
Kelly's member page

Contents copyright 2020, Do not republish without permission.
What's new in Photo Mechanic 6? Find out here! ::..