My 7 year old son went on his first overseas rugby tour on the weekend, albeit to Macau, and I decided to teach my husband, who was accompanying him, to photograph him and his team as if I was shooting a sporting event for a client.
A lot of the time we watch our children play sports and we reach for our phones to capture those moments of brilliance only to realize we not only missed the moment but instead got a blur of movement and none of the magic. With this in mind, the night before I took the time to make the necessary focus and tracking adjustments on one of my camera bodies to suit the game of rugby (and made a mental note to change them back before the next portrait session when my husband returned). I grabbed a fast telephoto lens and packed a bag for what looked to be a fantastic day out for the boys. The boys and their dads all took the ferry from Hong Kong and arrived in Macau about an hour later. After a short coach ride to the venue, the team began to warm up and go through their plays with their coaches before their matches started.
Children’s sports isn’t as fast paced as the adults’ version, but that doesn’t mean you should shoot differently. However, you do need to shoot a lot lower to the ground to give the kids a more powerful and majestic look on the field of play. I explained this to my husband and showed him how to set the shutter speed to something north of 1/1000th of a second to make sure he stopped the action and to set the aperture as fast as the lens would allow to give a shallow depth of field. Depending on the lighting conditions, the ISO may have needed to go a little higher (around 400) in order make sure the exposure was correct, and I also had him set the exposure compensation to +1.0 to make sure to keep the histogram on the back of the camera as far to the right as possible as i figured I’d have some editing to do on his return.
All my husband had to do was point the camera and focus on capturing these children playing a game they love, and hopefully walk away with some beautiful shots of our son and his team mates scoring tries, making tackles and generally grinning like Cheshire cats throughout their matches.
As a mum with very active kids, being able to capture my children playing sports is one of my great passions. I have captured so many fantastic memories of my children over the years, and often parents ask me to cover their own child’s event after seeing my work. Each sport has it’s own nuance and equipment requirements, and doing sports correctly can require faster lenses with longer reach. It’s not by accident that professional sports photographers have such heavy and diverse shooting gear. Next time your child is playing sport, why not book me to capture them and/or their team, that way you can focus on the play at hand and have fantastic photos to cherish once the game is run and done.