How to Get Started in Sports Photography


Are you looking to get started in photography, specifically with sports photography? You have come to the right place!

We asked to chat with Kara Hoffman, CloudSpot user and Sports Photographer, to talk about how she got her start as a sports photographer and what advice she has for those that may be new to the field.

We hope you enjoy learning from one of our amazing CloudSpot Photographers today. Take it away, Kara!

How I Got Started as a Sports Photographer

I wanted to document moments at home, so I bought a small camera for myself. When my son started high school, he played football and the team mom was looking for a photographer to document the games. Knowing I had a small camera at home, the team mom asked if I wanted to take some game-action photos for the high school football team. I didn't have experience in a high-action scenario like this, but that didn't stop me. I thought it would be a great way to see the game from a different perspective, along with helping my son's football team out, and I said yes!

I learned a lot from that game and future games where I wanted to be invited back to photograph more. Now, sports photography is almost all that I do. Sports photography for me ranges from youth team sports up to the NFL training camp level. I love capturing live-action sports and now say yes to any chance I can get.

To start photographing at the NFL level, I signed up with ICON Sportswire. Now, I'm able to apply and request specific football games that I want to cover. Being able to capture NFL training camps has been amazing. I am a Navy mom and applied to a 2019 Navy Football game, where I was approved to be the photographer. This game was so special to me since I am a Navy mom myself. I flew from California to Maryland just for this game! ❤️ I can't wait for more games like this.

Three Things to Learn and Master as a Sports Photographer

The top three things you need to know in order to start with sports photography are to learn your camera, learn the light, and be patient with game action.  

1. Learn your camera

I currently use a Canon 1dx Mark 2 paired with a 400 2.8. There are various ways to learn camera settings, but my favorites are finding a photographer who already knows or looking up a YouTube video.

2. Learn the light and lighting scenarios

I learn most of my tips and tricks from Katelyn James Photography and Education. She is primarily a wedding photographer, but all of her teachings also help with sports photography and types of light. She specifically has a lighting and location course, which is very helpful.

For editing, I use Katelyn's Backwards C where you bump up your exposure and contrast or reduce tone curve and blacks. Katelyn says to keep “your whites white, your blacks black, lights lighter and darks darker - the backwards C on the tone curve.”

My other favorite photographer to learn from is Zamani Feelings. He is a portrait, event, and sports photographer who focuses on football specifically.

Along with following these two photographers, everything else has been self-taught, trial, and lots of error. Be patient with yourself! It takes time to learn about camera settings and light scenarios.

3. Learn patience with game action

Sports photography is VERY different from most photography genres. Sports are fast with a lot going on at all times. People are talking, moving, running, falling, and plays are called quickly.

There are many factors that play into capturing a sporting event. Overall, NEVER compare yourself or your work to anyone else. Just like other types of photography, everyone finds their own style and groove.

I always look for things to learn in sports photography, whether it's a new technique, a new lighting scenario, or a new level of a sports team that I haven't shot before. So many amazing sports photographers are willing to share their wealth of knowledge, so take advantage of that! Find a few to follow and continuously learn. Things are constantly evolving in sports, so you never want to think you have reached your peak. You can always be better and always learn!

How CloudSpot Helped My Sports Photography Business

I’ve always used CloudSpot for my client galleries! To be able to organize each football game into Folders is AMAZING. This allows me to separate specific games or specific team members for my galleries.

My sports photography clients love how amazing their CloudSpot galleries look when I deliver final photos! During sports events, I'll have parents come up to me and ask for a specific session and gallery for their child. CloudSpot allows me to book individual athletes and deliver beautiful galleries to them and their parents! We have so many messages about how amazing their galleries look!

Sports photography, and specifically football, is my happy and calm place! It allows me to be extremely creative and shoot outside of my comfort zone! CloudSpot complements that creativity by allowing me to express my work in a professional way to my clients.

Ready to get started with CloudSpot? Try it for free!