June 12, 2009 / Photography

Football photography tips

Written by Bruce Konkle

As a field team sport, football’s action can range over a considerable area, so shooting opportunities are difficult to predict.

Most of the important action is likely to be concentrated close to either end. Goals and touchdowns are important for professional photographers, but a photographer shooting for his own pleasure may find more opportunities from a midfield touchline position. Less important and “friendly” games give more open access to photographers. As the distance from the action is unpredictable and varies, a zoom lens (such as 80 to 200mm) can be useful, or else a combination of two cameras, one with a medium telephoto (such as 100mm or 150mm), the other with a medium-to-long telephoto (300mm to 400mm).

In virtually all circumstances, it pays to follow the ball. A ground-level position often gives the least complicated views with a telephoto lens, setting players against the unfocused background of stands and spectators. A motor-drive is useful.

Position A
Want a photo of a kicker kicking an extra point or field goal as the defensive line tries to block him? A wide-angle lens from here may give you this and much more.

Position B
Want to get big play photos with impact? On pass plays, keep the camera focused in a certain area on the field where you think the play is going to be. Learn the team’s plays; you might hear the play called ahead of time.

Position C
Want some intriguing sideline shots? Roam the sidelines and watch for intense coach and player reactions during the game. Do not forget to use a longer lens and check crowd reactions as well.

Position D
Want good action photos of the running game? Stay about five to eight feet in front of the line and let the action come to you.


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Bruce Konkle

Dr. Bruce Konkle's previous work experience includes being a journalism teacher and publications adviser at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. He is the former director of the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association and former director of the Carolina Journalism Institute.