Sports photographers need to be just as skilled as the players on the field, and just as prepared as well. I photographed a collegiate softball game, and the experience reminded me of something I was told playing little league as a kid, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.” This is almost true for sports photography, but the numbers are a little off it’s more like 99 percent mental and one percent physical. While quick reflexes are certainly necessary, the concentration that it takes to get a great picture and capture a split second moment takes precedent over all else. The second you lose focus could be the second that a big play happens and missing out on the big play could mean missing out on the big shot. Another large part of sports photography is knowing where to be to get the desired shot, planning ahead for what may happen. For example if the teams slugger comes up and you can tell she’s swing for the fences it may be a good idea to put yourself in a position to get pictures of her hitting rather than the pitcher or a fielder perhaps.
My experience shooting was trying, but educational as well. The first issue I ran into was that since I couldn’t be on the field I had to shoot from behind the fence which made it hard to get a clean shot. I also found that I had to get my timing just right since my low-end DSLR doesn’t have the quickest shutter. This took a while, but after getting in the rhythm of shooting, timing out fast action like pitches became much easier. At the end of the day I had definitely missed some great shots that I wish I could go back and get. I also had some pictures I was very proud of, and I think I learned a lot about what it takes to shoot sports.