Although sports photographers work in an exciting and glamorous profession,
it's hard work that requires specialized training and an artistic eye. Some
are full-time staff members for publications and sport teams. Others work
as freelancers, picking and choosing who they want to work for.
Creating commercial quality photographs requires technical expertise and
Corky Trewin is a sports photographer in Seattle. He says light, focus
and composition are the three main elements of a photograph. "Without light,
you don't have a picture. Without focus, you don't have a picture," he says.
You may have a picture without composition, if you have the other two.
But composition is the difference between a truly great photograph and a mediocre
Sports photography is both an artistic and technical occupation. Many pictures
not only reveal technical skill, but also are so beautifully composed that
they can be considered works of art.
Sports photographers take pictures of sports figures, places, events and
objects. Some even develop and print them as well. This requires a fully equipped
darkroom and the technical skill to operate it.
As a result, many send their film to laboratories for processing. This
is especially true for color film, which requires expensive equipment and
precise conditions for processing and printing.
Sports photographers use a wide variety of cameras that can accept lenses
designed for close-up, medium-range or distance photography. They also must
use many kinds of film and lighting equipment when necessary.
Finally, photographers must be able to arrange whatever they are photographing
so that it will show up clearly in the finished picture.
Photography increasingly involves the use of computers. A photographer
may use a digital camera to take a picture and use a computer to manipulate
it. The images may be stored on a CD the same way music is.
Working conditions for sports photographers vary considerably. Some may
shoot athletes only, some shoot games and some cover extreme sports like snowboarding
or rock climbing. This means they often work long and irregular hours and
must be available on short notice.
Chris Noble has combined a passion for adventure with the art of photography
to explore the interaction of man and wilderness.
"My photographic art has exploded into a thriving, successful career, with
lucrative editorial and advertising accounts worldwide," says Noble.
Self-employment allows for greater autonomy, freedom of expression and
flexible scheduling. But income is uncertain and freelancing means continually
searching for new clients. Some photographers hire an assistant solely for
One way self-employed photographers can earn additional income is by licensing
the use of their photographs through stock photo agencies.
These agencies grant magazines and other customers the right to purchase
the use of a photograph, and in turn pay the photographer a commission. Stock
photo agencies require an application from the photographer and a sizeable
Capture the action
Watch a one-minute video showing what it's like to work in this career or related careers
Note: This movie requires QuickTime.