Why meeting before a sports portrait session is so important

So much goes into creating beautiful portrait photography.

There's the technical matters, of course, the shutter speed and the light modifiers and the composition.

There's something else, though, perhaps just as (if not more) important.

It's the personal connection between the person being photographed and the photographer.

That's why an essential part of a Creative Sports Photography portrait experience happens before a camera is ever turned on.

It happens before we ever arrive at the field, court, arena, or pool for your portrait session.

It's the meet-and-greet that takes place beforehand.

Youth baseball pitcher delivering from the mound.
Devin Connor | Baseball | Penn Manor

Drawing from my days as a newspaper reporter, and from a natural curiosity about people and their stories, I meet with athletes and their families soon after they initially reach out through email, phone, or on social media.

These days it's usually over Zoom but it can happen in-person, too. Usually, they take only half an hour.

I do this because I believe it's critical to the success of the photography we're going to make together.

Portrait photography really is a collaboration. It's a partnership.

I may be the one creating an image with the use of a camera and studio lights, but if the connection between the photographer and the person being photographed is weak (or worse), chances are the portraits just won't resonate.

Chances are they'll be subpar.

We all want better. Right?

The pre-session meeting offers a chance for us to dialogue. The athlete and parent have an opportunity tell me about themselves -- the passions the athlete has, the challenges they've faced, how they overcame, what they aspire to be.

I can often incorporate these little vignettes of their personalities and lives into the photography.

High school swimmer smiling by a pool
Carol Fabian | Hempfield | Swimming

These meetings also give athletes, especially those who are naturally introverted, an opportunity to learn about me and get comfortable with the person who's going to be taking their photograph.

I find the pre-session meeting leads to more successful portrait photography compared to all of us meeting for the first time during the portrait session.

I never want to lose sight of something fundamental.

Yes, we're all busy, so fitting in a pre-session meeting can be hard. But ...

Portrait photography is a people-centered service.

A portrait photographer like me should never, ever lose sight of the fact that there's a person on the other side of our camera - person who deserves to be valued, understood, respected, heard.

That approach begins before a photograph of an athlete is ever taken

I want Creative Sports Photography to be a positive part of the journey the athlete in your family is following.

And I look forward to the pre-session meeting almost as much as the actual photography session because it gives us a chance to do something I'm afraid doesn't happen nearly as much in our lives as maybe it should.

We get to talk, to listen, to connect.

If you have any questions about this or other aspects of Creative Sports Photography, reach out by email (dave@creativesportsphotography.com) or by phone (717-669-2026).

And if you'd like to schedule a sports portrait session, here's the form:

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