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Shooting a Good Sports Image for Social Media

One of the biggest problems I faced when working with corporate clients in media was convincing them of the importance of using only quality photographs to help convey their brand correctly.

I can never understand why businesses and sports persons will spend thousands on ‘flash websites’ but never invest a few hundred dollars in a quality media portfolio that can be used time and time again. Professional athletes often use amateur photos in social media. This is also the case for those who are not yet earning money in their sport but seeking to become professional.

So this article is for all of you sports execs or athletes who need to upgrade! Your brand and business have to be in alignment and this includes everything in your media portfolio, in particular social media photographs which are becoming more and more important also. Everything should be considered part of your overall brand alignment even if you don’t consider your social media accounts to be as ‘official’ as your website.

So this week I decided to get some tips on how to create good quality photographs from renowned photographer Andrew Railton, one of Australia’s most well known sports photographers. With a background shooting stills from the film industry, Andrew is a master of creating the perfect image.  I caught up with Andrew while he was on his way to Mount Buller where he is photographing snow antics for the next three months.

So what exactly makes a good sports image?

Andrew says the key thing before you take any sports photos, or have any taken, is to decide the message you want to convey to your audience. As a picture can tell a thousand words, you want to make sure the story is pretty interesting.

Get clear on what you want

“Decide whether you want a portrait or a ‘live action’ moment. Capturing a live action moment requires a good understanding of a few key items. Shutter speed is crucial – if you want to capture the moment crisply, you’ll need a high shutter speed somewhere between 500th of a second to 2000th of a second so if you are hiring someone make sure they know what they are doing,” he said.

“The photographer will also need to make sure they can time the action. An action shot is pretty useless without the items in it that tell the story. For example, a football player without a soccer ball would be much less exciting than if you had the ball in the shot, or in motion. Help your audience to get the message quickly by utilising everything that connects you with that particular sport. If you have set up a photo shoot to promote your sports brand keep the message simple and connected.”

Correct lighting is crucial

“As with all photography, lighting and composition remain at the heart of any good image. Make sure you or your photographer look for interesting light, including shadows, back light, reflections, colours etc…. If the available light is minimal or flat, make sure your photographer has a small flash handy and a remote cabled or wireless trigger. This will allow you to use the available ambient light as the fill, and create a key light on your subject from your flash allowing for much better images.”

Get creative

Portfolio shots or sports shots don’t have to be run of the mill. Make them interesting.

Andrew says to make sure your photographer takes a range of photographs from alternative angles, using different light, props etc.

“This way there is bound to be some photographs that you or your client will be happy with.”

Add a Media Page to your website

Andrew says it’s also a great idea to have a media page on your website to allow reporters and journalists to down load high resolution (print quality) files of your approved portrait easily. This way your story has a much higher chance of being run. (Especially without a dodgy photo that has been pulled from Facebook.)

Andrew Railton entered the Queensland Film and Television Industry in about 1991 and worked as a professional motion picture camera assistant until about 2004. He gained experience on a few major Hollywood motion pictures, and dozens of major television commercials for national and international clients/brands. Then in 2004 he decided to develop his creative talents with the camera with the goal to develop a client base as Production Stills Photographer. He’s shot Motorsports, including Champ cars and V8 Supercars,The LA marathon in 2010, the Crossfit Games LA Sectionals in 2010.

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