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I have been taking pictures of football games for four years now, so I shoot football games like a piece of cake. However, I see newer photographers I come around struggling with finding a groove to get into and thought that I could be of some use.
1. Get as close to the field as possible.
I always see a few photographers too scared to get close to the sidelines, but that’s where the action is happening! Get right up to the line you are allowed to be up to and do not step over and get on the field or you could cause your football team a penalty! Wipeouts do happen, I have been tackled by a massive lineman before, but if that happens just put your camera up to your chest and brace yourself!
2. Spread out.
Do not clump up with the other photographers if at all possible. You want the unique angles and shots that could end up being better than theirs, so find a different place around the field if at all possible.
3. Move with the players.
If the players are at the 30-yard line, you’re around the 30-yard line. Move with the players to get pictures of your defense tackling the quarterback or your running back trying to break away. Do not stand in one spot the entire game or you miss tons of great opportunities.
4. Don’t just take pictures of the football game.
With every event, you are creating a story. At football games, there is much more than just the football game happening. Before the game starts and at halftime, take pictures of the student section. Get the student sections reactions at a close call, a bad call, or a touchdown. At halftime and during the game, take pictures of the cheer and dance team. If you’re near the band during the football game, turn around and get some band shots or get them playing at halftime. Create a story with as many perspectives as possible.
5. Get up-close and personal.
Following rule 1 and rule 4, do not be afraid to get closer and get other sides of the story. Go into the line of football players watching the game to get a better angle and to get their reactions of what is happening on the field. Go behind the football line and get the exhausted players watching their film with the coach that is lecturing them on what to do better next time.
6. Get there early and stay late.
Get there early to shoot the football players in the locker room before the game or the student section preparing for their cheer and find out what they are throwing for that game (if your student section does that). Stay late to take pictures of the football coach standing around his players on one knee as he talks to them about the past few hours and get the families and friends talking to the players and cheerleaders on the field after the game. Get the whole story!
7. Follow composition rules.
Use the rule of thirds! As seen in my photo above, the player with the ball is not in the middle, but on the left side of the picture. Don't set your ISO too high! You don't want grainy pictures. If you cut off limbs, cut them off at the joints, not in a random place. Fill the frame as much as you can so no dead space makes what could have been an action packed picture a bland one. Especially with football, do not make your photo too busy—simplicity is key.