June 17, 2009 / Photography

Tips for soccer photography

Written by Bruce Konkle

Shooting soccer is, in many ways, similar to shooting football. A large field makes it frustrating at times but there are also lots of possibilities since lighting is seldom a problem and much of the action tends to take place in four areas. Lighting is not a problem because most games are held during daylight hours. Even slow lenses can be used with great results. The four areas tend to be behind the goal, directly off to the side of the goal, in the corner of the field and on the sidelines shooting towards the large center area.

As with football, a telephoto lens (135mm or longer) is needed if you hope to bring the action up close and personal. If you do not have a long lens, you simply must wait until the action is on your side of the field. A wide-angle or normal (50mm or less) lens may work from behind the net or off to the side of the net but if you are producing a photo essay or a yearbook soccer spread, you will want to vary the types of photos you use so all photo angles are not from the same shooting position. As with shooting any sport, get to know the rules of soccer and spend time watching a game through your camera lens so you get a feel for where much of the action takes place before wasting a lot of film.

Position A
A wide-angle or normal lens (50mm or less) may give you some dramatic photos of action near the net, a goalie going for saves or players celebrating after a made goal.

Position B
Use almost any type of lens from this position, just off the goal, to get action around the net or action coming towards the net from the center.

Position C
Corner kicks are easy to shoot because you know where the initial action is taking place. A normal lens works fine when you’re near the corner boxes.

Position D
Some action is bound to occur in the center of the field when play begins at the start of the game, after halftime and after goals. You’ll need a long lens (135mm or longer), however.

Soccer Photographer Placement Diagram

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.