“Thirty seconds to go, passing up the middle, he’s got a chance, he shoots…GOOOOOOOOAL!”
And the winning shot is in your camera!
Capturing that moment of celebration after a winning goal is a rush for any photographer. And while we can publish an entire series about shooting soccer photography, here are a few quick tips to remember during game day.
Topping the list of most sports photography tips is to know the sport and familiarize oneself with the location prior to shooting. If possible, it is always beneficial to explore (or scout) the area and plan key positions and angles from which to shoot.
Here’s an added tip…bring your camera!
While scouting the field, there could be an opportunity to capture an amazing image that can help tell the story of the day. Capture images that will stand out or build the scene — whether a simple establishing shot, an environmental portrait of a coach, captain of the team or the diehard fan that is two hours early, face painted and already chanting in the stands.
During the game, find a unique position to capture images with the players running toward the camera. After all, it is the eyes and face that express the intensity of the players. Oftentimes, professional photographers will be positioned on the end line, by the corner or on the sideline by the top of the 18-yard box.
Get low, get lower, get even lower! Make the players look iconic by shooting from a low angle. Or try positioning the camera down on the grass—and watch for falling players!
Tech Talk: Keep in mind, great shots at daytime soccer games can be achieved with more compact telephoto lenses, including with the EF-S 55-250mm IS STM (for cameras with APS-C image sensors) or the EF 70-300mm or 75-300mm lenses. Other possible lenses include the EF 100-400mm (either version), the EF 300mm f/4L IS, or EF 400mm f/5.6L lenses -- all of which can be hand-held and would have sufficiently wide apertures for most daylight applications. Of course, at the professional level, a lens like the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM is invaluable for its combination of telephoto power, wide aperture, and tremendous sharpness.
Capture the moment. Capture the emotion. Capture the passion. Professional soccer is a fast-paced sport that rarely stops during the forty-five minute halves. One has to be ready to capture key moments at any point during the game. In fact, some of the fastest goals on record have happened within two seconds from the start of the game! Have the camera set up and ready to go, so the focus is on the game, not the camera settings.
Tech Talk: Shooting with a minimum shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second will freeze the player and soccer ball. But don’t be afraid to raise the ISO to achieve an increased shutter speed (for example 1/4000 or 1/8000).
There’s a lot going on during the ninety minutes of action on the field. Follow the ball, isolate players, and maintain situational awareness to what is happening both on the field and throughout the stadium to capture truly captivating images.
Tech Talk: Using AI Servo and the Continuous Shooting Drive Mode is key for shooting soccer. Also, two years ago (almost to the day), Rudy Winston published an article titled “Back-Button Auto Focus Explained,” highlighting key advantages for sports photographers. Be sure to brush up on that article before your next event.
“Rain Forecast 100%” isn’t the greatest thing to see on a weather forecast if planning a beach trip. But for shooting soccer? It could provide an opportunity to capture very powerful images—with rain gear covering the camera equipment of course!
Shoot, shoot, shoot! Fill your memory card. Go out and capture some great shots!
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