Sports photography is challenging. But as photographers, we keep doing it because it’s one of the best ways to record both the highs and lows of sports and to preserve important moments for the future.
My name is Caleb, and I have more than four years of experience with sports photography. I’ve shot several sports, including football, basketball, and soccer. I’ve also covered multiple levels of sports, from semi-pro to college.
In this article, I’ll discuss the importance of sports photography and why many of us do it. If you’re thinking of becoming a sports photographer or are just curious, read ahead for the breakdown of why the field is important.
Reasons Why Sports Photography is Important
Simply put, sports photography is important because it records memories and gives athletes and sports fans a lens to look back on their experiences.
1. Covering Lesser Known Teams
In the big leagues like the NFL or NBA, there’s no need to worry about big moments being forgotten. Those professional leagues are covered by plenty of sources, ranging from TV networks to magazines and newspapers.
However, most sports leagues don’t have that luxury. Many semi-professional and even lesser-known pro leagues are relatively obscure and don’t receive much coverage. The same applies to high school leagues and smaller colleges.
Photos are often one of the few ways teams like these can document their season. After all, they don’t get coverage on networks like ESPN or nationally known websites.
Despite these teams and leagues not getting much attention, the players here still work hard to achieve their goals. And many of these teams, whether at the high school, college, or lower professional level, still have very dedicated fans.
If it wasn’t for photography, these players and fans might not have anything, but written game recaps to look back on when the season is said and done.
Most high school or college athletes won’t get a chance to play at the next level, and they’ll greatly appreciate having pictures from their time as athletes to look back on in the future.
2. Capturing Iconic Moments
Aside from preserving moments from the lower levels of sports, photography also has a role in capturing some of the most iconic sports moments.
Pictures can have an impact on how we remember things. For example, many people who don’t even watch boxing will easily recognize the famous picture of Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston.
And plenty of non-basketball fans can recognize the picture of Michael Jordan jumping in the air after hitting The Shot.
Sports is filled with iconic moments, from game-winning touchdowns to knockout punches. Photography is an excellent way of capturing and preserving these moments for the future.
While video is excellent for live broadcasts, photos are still the king in distilling a powerful moment down to a single frame.
Sports photography isn’t easy. It often involves standing out in the elements and maybe even taking up an uncomfortable position to get the best shot. Sometimes, sporting events last for hours and don’t give much time to take a break.
Despite that, we sports photographers love the field because we get to save moments like this, along with all the emotion and atmosphere that comes with them.
Here are some other frequently asked questions about sports photography.
When Did Sports Photography Become Popular?
Sports photography has existed in one form or another since at least the 1840s. However, it took off in the 1970s and 80s when color photography allowed sports photographers to capture significant moments in even more detail.
What Skills Are Needed To Become A Sports Photographer?
The skills needed to become a sports photographer are mainly the same ones required for regular photography. You need a creative eye, and because sports are often fast-paced, having good reflexes and instincts helps also.
Sports photography is important because it captures the iconic moments in sports and lets us look back on them at a later time. For some teams and leagues, photos are one of the only ways they have of recording moments like these.
Have you ever done sports photography? Why do you think sports photography, or photography in general, matters? Tell us in the comments.