Sports photography is an important field of documentary photography. It is called sports photography when the photographer captures images of an athlete or a sporting event.
This offers an incredible number of subjects and possibilities to sports photographers. It can be a friendly match between friends as well as a world cup final!
The role of the sports photographer
At the heart of events, sports photographers go with athletes in all their activities. The photographers follow the athletes behind the scenes of the events, in their preparations, their trainings, and of course during the competitions. Immersed in this universe, the photographer’s role is to ensure the communication of the events, but also to transmit, through their photographs, the emotion that the athletes’ performances evoke in us, the other sports enthusiasts.
The sports photographer is therefore a witness to an event. Their role is to capture the emotion that the athlete transmits to the rest of us. Close to the action, they immortalise the moments of grace of the athletes, but also the enthusiasm of the crowds, the animation of the games, the passion and the frenzy of the spectators. In a world that is nothing but movement, the photographer freezes the moment of sporting achievement, revealing to the spectators images that they do not know and that may one day write the history of sports.
The courses in photojournalism and photo reportage at Spéos are a good way to prepare for this field of photography. The school’s partnerships with the Magnum Photos agency and the magazine Polka are also great assets to understand how a photography agency or a newspaper magazine works.
Qualities required to become a sports photographer
The qualities required to become a sports photographer are numerous.
First of all, it is necessary to develop your photography skills in general. This means taking photography classes, mastering your camera, practicing regularly and studying professional photography techniques. It is also important to understand the different types of sports photography, including outdoor events, team sports and individual sports, and to determine what type of sports photography you want to specialize in.
Next, it is important to develop a portfolio to show potential employers or clients one’s skills in sports photography. This portfolio should include professional quality photos taken at various sporting events. It is also important to build relationships with athletes, event organizers, and potential employers, as this can lead to job opportunities.
Developing business management skills is also paramount, as sports photographers often have to freelance and run their own businesses. This includes managing finances, selling photos and marketing. Business concepts related to creating quotes and contracts as well as understanding copyrights are also essential to ensure that you are well protected when selling your photos.
Finally, it is important to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in sports photography. This means keeping up with sports news, participating in photography contests and attending industry events to meet other sports photographers and learn about the latest trends and technologies.
Become a sports photographer with Spéos
Spéos offers several professional photography training courses that allow students to specialize or perfect their skills in photojournalism, photo reportage or documentary photography:
From the freelance point of view:
> Professional Photography in 1 year – specialization in photo reportage
> Professional Photography in 2 years – specialization in photo reportage
> Professional Photography + Video/3D – specialization in photo reportage (3-year program)
From a news agency point of view with Agence France-Presse:
> Photojournalism by Spéos & Agence France-Presse (AFP)
From the point of view of an agency of documentary photographers with Magnum Photos:
> Creative Documentary by Magnum Photos & Spéos
From the magazine point of view with Polka:
> Photojournalism by Polka & Spéos – 5 months in Paris
Training courses at Spéos cover all steps involved in the creation and realization of a photo reportage or photo documentary:
- Researching information: keeping up to date and researching subjects that may be of interest to newspapers and magazines, contacting editorial offices to present one’s reportage, requesting permission to photograph locations, etc.
- Shoots: knowing how to visually represent a news item by means of framing values, shot values, use of natural or artificial light, researching the best point of view, optics, sensitivity, adequate aperture values and speed; being able to produce information through a well-constructed, visually readable image that conveys the emotion of the event photographed; knowing how to synthesize in a single image or in a series of images the action, the actors, the context and the stakes of the event.
- The choice of images: learning how to edit one’s own work by constructing a story coherent with the right choice of images.
- Image processing: knowing how to correctly caption photos and use editing softwares.
- Storytelling: learning how to tell a story in photos: a photograph must show, inform or provide proof; writing a synopsis or a text illustrating the photo report.
- Managing one’s own archives: adopt techniques for classifying images and storage media to properly preserve and exploit one’s own image archives.
The photo courses at Spéos photography school allow students to learn the profession of professional photographer and to specialize in becoming a reporter-photographer.
Essential technical skills in photography are taught and developed throughout the photo courses: photo retouching, post-production, mastering computer software and building a professional portfolio.
Courses at Spéos also allow aspiring photojournalists to develop their sensitivity and visual signature.
An essential point of the pedagogical method taught at Spéos: students who follow photojournalism or photo reportage courses all follow studio-based photo training courses as well. The goal: to learn how to control light indoors so as to then be able to manage it better outdoors!
Opportunities, Careers and Prospects
Becoming a professional sports photographer requires developing photography skills, building a professional quality portfolio, developing professional relationships, understanding business management aspects and staying current with industry trends and technologies.
In sports photography, it is important to persevere and not give up in the face of challenges, as becoming a sports photographer is a continuous process of learning and development.
How to get to Spéos Paris
Come by visit Spéos (preferably on appointment)!