I was asked recently about how to shoot better sports photographs. There are a number of factors involved in order to make great sports images consistently. First is timing and instinct. Shooting great sports photos means knowing when to trip the shutter before the photo happens. Sporting events happen so fast that if you see the action you want to capture it’s too late. You need to anticipate the image and shoot fast and often. It’s a skill that some are better at than others. It’s knowledge of the game, experience and instinct. A fast motor on the camera is really handy to capture what happens before and after the action. But just hitting the shutter on a motor-driven camera and hoping to capture something is not reliable. There’s an old saying in shooting sports photographs: You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time and be ready. Second is equipment. A telephoto lens is crucial to zeroing in on the action, eliminating background, and capturing emotion. A shorter lens has its place when the action comes close to you as it often does in basketball, wrestling and boxing. Most photographers shooting sports carry two camera bodies, one with a long lens and the other a shorter lens. Don’t expect great results, or even good results, if you’re using a point-and-shoot camera. Unfortunately, most of them have a delay or lag between when you push the button and when the shutter actually trips. Also, there is no way to force most point and shoots to a high shutter speed which is critical in stopping the action. Lastly, location. It’s difficult to capture great images when you’re in the stands. Not impossible since great photos can be made from a high angle looking down on the playing field. But it’s limiting and more difficult than when you are on the playing field up close. The playing field can be a football or baseball field, basketball or tennis court, or wrestling mat. There are lots of other things to consider from shutter speed to lighting. I just touched on the basics without getting too technical. I added a few photos below of recent basketball games that illustrate timing, isolating action and location.