Tips for choosing a game day photographer for your team or club

Updated: May 18

There are so ... many ... sports photographers out there.


Seems in every region of Lancaster County (as well as York, Lebanon, and Dauphin), you don't have to look far to find someone who markets their game day photography services.


But when there are so many - including parents who in their good nature want to dive into the genre of sports photography on behalf of their child and team - it can be challenging to pick the right one.

Youth soccer players chasing a ball.
It's not easy finding the right sports photographer, but with these tips, you'll find someone who can get you the right images for your team or club.

And picking the right one comes down to what the team or club sets as its photography goals.


These days - let's just acknowledge it - we all are watching teams and players on social, whether its Tik Tok or Instagram or Facebook.


And we know, when we see a team's social media feed, whether they have professional-quality photography.


When they do, we stop and admire, like and comment. When they don't, we keep scrolling.


If your team or club is searching for the right sports photographer to capture in-game images, here are a few things to look for to help you make the right choice.


Only shows his or her best work


A sports photographer every game is going to take hundreds of images, sometimes more than a thousand.


The vast majority of them are not sharable. Some might be out of focus or composed badly, simply by virtue of the pace of action, let alone a few other potential factors.

Girls lacrosse players in the rain.
Elizabethtown and Hempfield lacrosse players battle in the rain.

When it comes time to share images, you want a photographer who is only showing his or her best work.


That's a sign of a photographer who has experience and self-respect.


And it makes it so much easier for you as the client to choose what photos you want to purchase. It's easier to pick a favorite out of three choices than one out of 500.


Gets low to the ground

Girls lacrosse players
Penn Manor defends against a South Western attack.

One of the best ways to discern a professional sports photographer from someone else is how they behave on the sideline.


If you see two photographers, and only one of them is kneeling or laying on the ground to get a shot, pay attention to the one getting low.


That's a photographer who understands how best to photograph athletes.


A photographer can make any athlete, even the youngest toddler, appear heroic by getting low.


It consistently makes for more interesting game action images.


Simplifies the images


Sports photography presents two immediate challenges to anyone who tries it.


First, there is so much happening and so many people crossing in front of your camera.


And second, there are so many distracting things in the background - school buses, parents on camp chairs, advertising signs, and on and on.


A professional sports photographer will know how to adjust to those challenges and simplify his or her images so that your eyes immediately go to the subject of the photo.


That can often be the difference between "Wow! I want that image!" and "Meh. I'll pass" when it comes to a sports photo.


Changes perspective


Just like the above scenario with two sports photographers on the sideline, this time watch for the one who moves around.


The one who moves around is going to capture a variety of interesting images. The one who stays in place will also get some keepers, just not the same variety.


This is sports. There's action. And as a photographer, no matter what camera or lens you have, we should move with it.

High school hockey players competing.
It's important for your photographer to move around the playing area to get a large variety of photos.

It's really not different than photographing a wedding. A wedding photographer who moves around can capture images of the bride, groom, parents, wedding party, the officiant, and so on.


A sports photographer who moves can capture more players, more plays, more interesting moments.


Understands light


This might sound like a "no duh," but there's a special meaning when it comes to sports photography.


Let's say it's a sunny morning and there's a soccer game. Big sky, bright sun.


One photographer is positioned so that that the players are between him or her and the sun.


Another photographer is positioned on the other side of the field so that he or she is between the players and the sun.

Boys playing soccer.
When you look at a photographer's portfolio, ask yourself if that photographer understands how to best use light.

Go with the second photographer.


There are times when the first photographer is right (family portraits, weddings, and so on), but in sports, we're shooting at shutter speeds so fast, the faces and details of the players are going to be dark if they're in shade like that.


As a sports photographer, we aim to capture faces, eyes, emotions. They bring sports and athletes to life in a still image. That's why you want a well-lit subject in the photo.


Has a consistent style across the portfolio


When you hire a photographer for any reason - whether its sports or for family portraits or weddings, for anything - you want the peace of mind to know you're going to get exactly what you expect.


You're making an investment, after all.


When searching for a professional photographer for your sports team or club, take a careful look at their portfolio or sample images.

Professional soccer players playing the game.
Choose a photographer who has a consistent style. This way you can be confident in knowing what images you're going to get for the investment you make.

Do they look the same game to game and player to player? Are the skin tones right? The color of the grass or turf? Are the faces in focus? Does the ball appear in the majority of the images? Does one game look like another game, just with different teams?


If the answer is yes, then you can have confidence that when you hire that photographer, you have a solid idea of what you're going to receive.


That confidence counts.


I hope this helps as you search for the right sports photographer for your team or club. For more on my game day coverage options, please check this out.


Got questions? Send them my way at 717-669-2026 or dave@creativesportsphotography.com.


And don't forget to sign up for our email newsletter where CSP often makes announcements, coupon codes, and so on. I don't want you to miss out.


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