Excitement and confusion photographing sports

Running has become my passion. But, I have always loved sports in general. I grew up loving baseball and football. And my appreciation for sports has grown over the years to encompass a lot that I never thought it would.

I don’t photograph sports as much as I like to. It can be hard to schedule and it I something that needs to be planned out much more in advance than other types of photography that I enjoy. So it often falls by the wayside as I pursue other objectives that fit more naturally into the rhythms of my life.

But, when I do get it together enough to photograph a sporting event I enjoy it as much as anything else I photograph. It really brings me back to the days of my youth growing up admiring the photography in magazines and on baseball cards.

Elmira Pioneers. 6/6/2014.

My earliest sports memories are of watching and playing baseball. Baseball was probably the sport I grew up enjoying from the youngest age. Photographing baseball has a high sense of nostalgia for me. It is probably the sport I have thought about the most in my life.

As I grew up and into my early adulthood I played on a lot of rec league softball teams. I didn’t even realize how many different styles of softball there were. I was never particularly good at baseball or softball for that matter. But it was always a fun activity to enjoy. It is really cool to watch and photograph athletes that are actually really good at softball.

Elmira College Softball.

Sports I’m familiar with

In middle school is when I probably first became aware of football and became a huge fan of that sport. Football is the only sport I ever played at the high school level. The only sport I ever actually felt like I was good at or was comfortable playing. I really enjoyed thinking about and learning about football by playing it and watching it on TV.

While I was working on a project I was able to arrange an opportunity to be down on the field to photograph a college football game. That was one of the coolest feelings ever. Right down on the field just like all the professionals I saw at big time sporting events. It is really cool to be down on the field and track the action with a camera. Photographing a football game up close and personal is a wholly unique experience.

Ithaca College Vs. SUNY Cortland football.

In sports I am familiar with; like baseball, softball, and football I can try to anticipate where the action is going to be based on the situation. When photographing a sport I am more familiar with I can think about a type of photograph I would like to create and train my lens where that is most likely to happen and try to wait for it. That aspect is similar to wildlife photography. Watching and waiting for that action to take place.

Sports I am not familiar with

Lacrosse is a sport I grew up with some awareness of. We even had small lacrosse sticks to through the ball around with when we were young. But I never played lacrosse and I never really new how it was played. I only knew goal was to throw the ball into the net. We didn’t even have lacrosse as a sport at my high school. But I did know that lacrosse was a popular sport on the collegiate level. It was fun to watch a college lacrosse game and try to follow the action and create some interesting images.

I had heard of rugby but I knew virtually nothing about it other than it is played with a ball vaguely the shape of a football and that you don’t pass the ball forward. As I met people through running I learned that some of my friends were former rugby players. I was really interested in learning more about rugby.

SUNY Poly Vs. Keuka College lacrosse.

My friends were involved in the development of our local rugby team. I was able to attend a few games and photograph them. I had no idea what was going on. The key is to learn more. We got together at our friends house so we could all watch rugby together and they could teach me more about the sport. It definitely helped. There is still a lot I do not understand, but learning more definitely helped me in my enjoyment and my photography for the next opportunity I had. I would definitely like to go back an photograph some more rugby games.

Photographing sports you are not familiar with is a unique challenge. In sports I am not familiar with it is much more reactionary. Trying to just follow the action and create compelling imagery of whatever is taking place in front of the lens. My mind can’t appreciate what is happening in front of me and anticipate the next potential action scene. It is solely moment to moment photography. There is no ability to look for the next big play about to happen because I have no idea what the potential of each moment in the sport holds.

Corning Rugby.

I hope to get more time out photographing some sporting events soon. I especially want to photograph more sports that I am unfamiliar with. It is a unique challenge and opportunity to push my skills and learn new things.

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