Who has the best seat in the house when it comes to sports job? That’s right! The answer is sports photographers. Take into account the access credentialed photographers have at sporting events and the locations of photographers’ pits and areas at games and it’s easy to see how such great photos appear in sports newspapers, magazines, and websites. Sports photography begins with a passion for sports, an eye for the action, and a camera. However, sports photography is more than just taking a photo at a game; it is a way to tell a story about the action through a photo. As a form of photojournalism, multiple messages can be communicated through each photo. Capturing those moments from different angles and perspectives separates a good photographer from a great one.
Aspiring sports photographers should start by compiling a portfolio of their work, a proper and professional way to present past photos you have taken, that can be presented to decision makers when applying for jobs and assignments. This process can be as simple as putting together an ordinary photo album or spending the money to make it look very artistic. Investing in putting together a great presentation can go a long way towards making a good first impression.
Speaking of investments, photographers are almost always responsible for purchasing and maintaining their own camera equipment. With high-powered lenses and top-of-the-line accessories, initial investments in such equipment can amount to $30,000 in some cases. Furthermore, changing technologies often require continuous upgrades in equipment.
Ways of getting started in this area of sports media include interning with a sports photographer or a major player in the industry. The duties may revolve around ‘œgruntwork’ such as clerical work, photo development (not so much anymore in the digital age), and carrying equipment. It is a yet again a great way to network within the industry, gain access to major sporting events, and learn from top notch professionals. Getting your foot into the door with one of these companies may provide an opportunity to fill-in when photographers are needed or an avenue to present photos previously taken for feedback.
Another option is starting your own freelance photography business. Taking photos for youth, community, and high school sports groups can also be a great start for an aspiring photographer. Eventually being hired as a staff photographer for steady income is a goal for many photographers but most staff photographers also do freelance work. This gives the photographer much more flexibility in scheduling and picking and choosing what to photograph. Furthermore, sports photographers also work non-sporting events and can pick up work from news agencies this way, too. For example, a staff photographer for a professional sports team will work a lot during the season (behind the scenes & on-field) but can take an extended vacation during the off-season or choose to freelance. It is entirely up to the photographer.
How to Break In – Photography classes, personal hobby, interning with a photographer,
Recommended Skills – Well organized, creativity, knowledge of all sports and current events, patience, multi-tasker, related computer software knowledge
Major Players – Getty Images/Allsport, Reuters, AP Images
Photographer Salary Information: