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The Art of Volume Sports Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

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Child holding football

The Art of Volume Sports Photography is a basic guide to help you jump into the market. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, this guide offers valuable insights into the world of volume sports photography.

One of the key takeaways from this guide is that preparation is essential. Photographers must carefully plan their equipment, logistics, and marketing strategies to succeed in the volume sports market. This includes selecting the right location, props, poses, and volunteers needed for each specific shoot. This guide will also cover topics such as lighting, backdrop, and line management techniques. These topics are critical for producing high-quality images that stand out from the competition.

Overall, The Art of Volume Sports Photography is an invaluable resource for anyone in the photography business. With its practical advice and expert insights, this guide will help you learn how to start a sports photography business and capture stunning images that showcase the beauty and intensity of sports.

Image: Fluvanna Sports Photography

Getting Started in Sports Photography

Choosing Your Background

When it comes to choosing your background, there are two main options: green screen or on-location. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider which one will work best for your specific needs.

Virtual Background: One of the biggest advantages of using a green screen or white backdrop (such as a HiLite) is that it allows you to easily change the background in post-processing. This means you can create custom backgrounds that match the team’s colors or branding, or even add in special effects like flames or smoke. Additionally, this option gives you complete control over lighting and eliminates any unwanted environmental distractions.

Learn more about the fully integrated outsourced and DIY options through GotPhoto.

On Location: On-location shoots allow you to capture athletes in their natural environment, whether it’s on the field, court, or track. This can result in more dynamic and authentic images and tends to require less equipment and setup time than green screen shoots.

However, shooting on location can be challenging due to unpredictable weather conditions or other environmental factors such as crowds or distracting backgrounds which could make your post-production editing double or triple in time. It can also be difficult to control lighting in outdoor environments which may lead to inconsistent results across shots as well.

Ultimately, the choice between using a green screen versus an on-location background depends on your specific needs and goals for your workflow. If you want complete control over lighting and background composition while sacrificing authenticity then go with green screen approach. Otherwise, if authenticity is key with little control over environmental factors, then choose an on-location approach.

Photography studio lighting setup

Setting Up Your Lights

Once you have selected a backdrop, it’s time to light it! If you’re using a green screen or a white backdrop, you will need at least two lights—one focused on the subject and one focused on the background. If you’re casting a shadow on your background, extraction will be more difficult. You can add a third light, equal distance from the subject, to eliminate the shadows.

If you’re on location, you may want to use two identical lights of equal strength to give off an even light throughout the image and overpower the sun. If you plan to capture movement such as jumps or running, you’ll want to have a high-speed sync strobe available to freeze the athlete’s movement.

Other Equipment

A DSLR is the camera choice, but the lens can come down to preference. Many use the “nifty fifty”, a 50mm prime lens. The brand will be a preference as well. Some use a tripod, some do not. A tripod provides consistency, stability, and flexibility. Using a tripod frees up your hands, allowing you to focus on directing the athlete or making adjustments to lighting and other equipment. However, some like to hand hold their camera in order to adjust the positioning for each athlete.

Running a Successful Sports Picture Day

Managing the Line

Managing a photo day line can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it can be done efficiently and effectively.

Here are some tips on how to manage a photo day line:

Plan Ahead:
Before photo day, create a detailed plan that outlines the schedule, workflow, and logistics of the event. This will help you anticipate potential issues and ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Set Up Clear Signage: Use clear signage to direct participants to the correct location and provide information about the process. This will help minimize confusion and frustration among participants.

Assign Roles: Assign specific roles to staff members or volunteers to ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities during the event.

Communicate Clearly: Communicate important information such as wait times or any changes in the schedule clearly and frequently. This will help keep participants informed and reduce their anxiety while waiting in line.

Use Technology: Consider using online registration systems or mobile apps to streamline check-in and reduce wait times.

Provide Entertainment or Activities: Offer entertainment or activities for participants while they wait in line to make the experience more enjoyable.

Be Flexible: Be prepared for unexpected situations such as inclement weather or equipment malfunctions by having backup plans in place.

By following these tips, you can successfully manage a photo day line while providing an enjoyable experience for all participants involved.

Middle school girl in softball uniform holding a bat over her shoulder

How to Flow

Flow posing is an effective technique for capturing high volume individual athlete portraits. This method allows photographers to photograph a large number of athletes in a short amount of time while still producing high-quality images.

Here’s how to use flow posing to capture stunning individual athlete portraits:

Use Posing Boards: Using pre-made posing boards are helpful in showing the athlete what pose they should do. By easily pointing to each pose, the athlete can move through their poses quickly and effectively.

Establish a Flow: Develop a system for moving athletes through the photographing station quickly and efficiently as possible. This can be done by setting up markers or cones to create a clear path for athletes to follow. Having foot prints on the backdrop floor, or an X made from tape on the ground is a great way to get the athletes to stand on the right spot each time.

Communicate with Athletes: Direct each athlete into their pose and give them clear instructions on how to position themselves. Use positive reinforcement and encouragement throughout the process. If you’re able to have a poser, use that person to demonstrate each pose.

Use Props: Incorporating sports equipment and props can add interest and variety to your shots while showcasing each athlete’s unique personality.

Vary Your Shots: Experimenting with different angles, poses, and expressions to create diverse images that capture each athlete’s individuality. Try taking the same shot, once with a smile, once with a more serious expression. These little changes can create more image options for parents to purchase!

Group Photo Composite:  You composite a group photo by combining multiple photos into one seamless image. This can ensure that everyone looks their best and no one is left out!  Make sure to keep the camera in the same place for each shot so that the lighting and background remain consistent, or if you’re using green screen, this assures the height stays accurate for each athlete.

By following these tips and utilizing flow posing techniques, you can efficiently capture high-volume individual athlete portraits that showcase each subject’s unique personality while maintaining consistent quality across all images.

To learn the ins and outs of flow posing, check out this amazing Sports Posing for Speed and Profit Guide by renowned sports photographer Bob Kenward of Fluvanna Sports Photography.

Images: Fluvanna Sports Photography

High school football player in uniform holding a hammer over his shoulder

Sports Photography Marketing Tips


Woman Using smart phone emitting holographic image of social media

Marketing your volume sports photography business is crucial to its success. Without effective marketing, potential clients may not know you exist or what services you offer. By promoting your business through various channels such as social media, referrals, promotions, collaborations and testimonials, you can increase visibility and attract new customers. Marketing also helps you differentiate yourself from competitors by showcasing your unique style and approach to capturing athlete portraits. Additionally, consistent marketing efforts can help build a loyal customer base and establish your brand as a trusted provider of high-quality sports photography.

Here are a few tips to jump start your marketing efforts:

Social Media: Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be powerful tools for promoting your athlete portraits. Post your images regularly with relevant hashtags and tags to reach a wider audience. You can also tag the athletes in the photos to increase engagement and potentially gain more followers.

Portfolio: Create a portfolio of your best athlete portraits on your website or social media accounts. This will allow potential clients to see your work and get an idea of what you can offer them.

Referral Programs: Offer referral incentives for current clients who refer new business to you. This could include discounts on future shoots or free coach prints.

Promotions: Run promotions or discounts on athlete portrait sessions during slow periods or special occasions such as holidays or seasonal sports events.

Collaborations: Partner with local teams or sports organizations to offer discounted rates for team photos or individual athlete sessions. This can help you build relationships within the community and attract more clients.

Testimonials: Ask satisfied clients for testimonials that you can use on your website, social media accounts, and other marketing materials. Positive reviews from happy customers can go a long way in attracting new business.

Blogging: Write blog posts about your experiences shooting athlete portraits, including behind-the-scenes stories, tips for capturing great shots, and insights into the creative process.

In short, investing time and resources into sports photography marketing business can lead to increased revenue, greater brand awareness and overall success in the industry.

GotPhoto & Volume Sports Photography

GotPhoto is an innovative online platform that can help you learn how to start a school photography business volume sports photographers streamline their workflow and increase their revenue! With features such as subject QR tagging, extraction services, automated marketing tools, and easy ordering and fulfillment, GotPhoto simplifies the process of delivering high-quality images to clients.

Photographers can save time on tasks like editing, printing, and packaging, allowing them to focus on their craft and take on more projects. Additionally, GotPhoto offers tools for marketing and sales optimization, including email campaigns, promotions and upselling options. This helps photographers attract new clients and generate more revenue from existing ones. By utilizing the powerful capabilities of GotPhoto, volume sports photographers can enhance their business operations and provide a superior customer experience while increasing profitability.

A streamlined workflow is crucial to succeeding in volume photography, particularly when it comes to shooting sports groups. In recent years, there has been a growth in digitally created virtual teams throughout the industry, so that’s why we teamed up with Bob Kenward of Fluvanna Sports Photography to produce the Sports Posing for Speed & Profit Guide.

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