June 15, 2009 / Photography

Tennis photography tips

Written by Bruce Konkle

Tennis is one of the most interesting sports to shoot but it can become the most frustrating as well if you’re limited in your shooting positions. During matches, photographers are usually not permitted to shoot within the fence unless it is from a court that is not being used. Most student photographers do not have the access professional photographers have at court side; drool over those wonderful Wimbledon and U.S. Open photos in Sports Illustrated but be realistic about what you can capture based on your access to the court while a match is underway.

If you have access during a match, that is great. If not, get the camera lens right up to the chain-link fence and shoot through the largest opening you can find. It works, and you might get a usable photo if you use the right lens (usually normal to short telephoto- 50mm-105mm). Some bleachers at many schools are located outside a fence but are high enough to give you an unobstructed view of the court. If that is the case, get a long telephoto (135mm or longer) and shoot away. Posed photos, of course, may be shot during practice or before matches but your best action photos are always shot during matches.

Position A
If allowed to be on the sidelines near the net, lenses in the 50mm to 135mm range can give you the variety of photos you’re probably after.

Position B
If you like to take photos of players serving, you probably want to get near the baseline and use a normal-to-short telephoto lens (if you have access to the court during play).

Position C
If you are stuck shooting from behind a fence, place your lens right up to an opening. Your frames might have blurring edges from the fence, but you might be able to crop out those areas.

Position D
High angles from bleachers may be your only choices. Be sure to bring a telephoto lens (105mm or greater) based on your distance from the action.


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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.