With the 2016 Olympics in Rio in full swing, a lot of people see the amazing imagery captured by various news outlets and think “boy, I wish I could do that”. So I thought I’d do a quick blog post and offer up 5 tips that will help the next time you head out to capture that sporting event, be it a Cubs game, or your child’s weekend soccer event.

Helpful Tip 1:

The worst place to stand on the field or court is the fifty-yard line or the half-court line.  So many times, I've see new sports photographers go out for their first event, and they end up planting themselves there, thinking that they will be able to see both sides of the field from that viewpoint. All this does is assure that you’ll miss all of the action occurring at both ends of the field or court… and therefore you won’t get those amazing “scoring shots”.

Helpful Tip 2:

Don’t just focus on the winning team.  Sometimes the most impactful sports photos are of the facial expressions of the athletes on the losing team. Think about that, especially if your vantage point gives you access to the losers. We all know the impact of sports on human emotion, and “losing” is the ultimate heartbreaker for many, and properly framed, your image can truly speak volumes about the outcome.

Helpful Tip 3:

Consider shooting in JPEG.  Generally, you’ll be able to capture 2 more frames per second, and the buffer on your camera won’t fill as quickly.  This can really help you to capture the perfect moment. I realize this may be counter to many of you who like to capture RAW files and thereby have greater flexibility in post production, but depending on the level and quality of your equipment, sacrificing that flexibility in order to capture “that moment” may well be worth it… experiment the next time you’re out and see what you think!

Helpful Tip 4:

Learn to shoot with both eyes open.  In fast-moving games like soccer where the ball can suddenly be kicked 100 feet or more, you can look with one eye open and see the ball more clearly and the other eye open in your optical viewfinder to place that ball within the frame.  It’s tricky at first, but can really help capture many more shots of the action.   The camera won’t block your view of the left eye because usually you’ll be shooting in portrait mode when shooting sports.

Helpful Tip 5:

Consider kneeling down on the ground and using a retractable monopod.  Shooting up at people makes them seem more powerful and “larger than life".  This adds a lot of drama to your sports images.  Plus, using the monopod will help you to keep the camera steady in this less-than-stable shooting position.