10 Practical Tips for Documenting Your Kid’s Sports Activities

I am far from being a professional photographer, but every Saturday for the next few weeks, and then for years to come, I am going to pretend that I am one. Because, with a sports minded husband and children, I am destined to spend many, many hours watching my kids play sports. And my job, besides acting like a loon on the sidelines and embarrassing them in front of all of their friends, is to document their sporting activities.

And I suspect that many of you will be in the same situation, if you aren’t already.

So, what is an amateur photographer supposed to do? You can either cross your fingers and hope for the best, or take a few minutes to learn from my mistakes.¬†After a couple of years of photographing games and swim lessons, and picking through many photography misses, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks for the average mom or dad (or grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, babysitter, etc), to help get you on the right track.

You may not be up for a Pulitzer Prize, but at least you’ll have some great shots that your family can enjoy for years to come. And better yet, instead of stressing over getting the “perfect shot,” you might actually enjoy the photographic process!

You can check out my advice below and then tell me, have you ever captured the perfect sports shot of your kid(s)? If you can, share a link in the comments!

  • Remember, You’re Not a Professional 1 of 10
    Remember, You're Not a Professional
    But you can at least act like one. If you notice the professionals on the sidelines of any big sporting event, you know how big their lenses are. The best and easiest way to photography sports is to use a zoom lens. A DSLR is your best bet, but a point and shoot with a large optical zoom will also work. I have a DSLR and, because I knew I would be spending a lot of time in the coming years photographing various sporting events, I invested in a 70-300mm zoom lens. If you're patient and can wait until you find it on sale, it's well worth the money!
    Photo via iStock Photo
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Step Back 2 of 10
    Don't Be Afraid to Take a Step Back
    While it's always nice to get close ups, sometimes it's important to get the "big picture." I love how small he looks out on the course all by himself.
  • Composition is Overrated 3 of 10
    Composition is Overrated
    Sometimes. There are courses you can take that will tell you that the composition of a photo is extremely important. And while that's true, sometimes, especially when there's a lot of action and movement, the composition isn't so important when you look at the final product. I could have trashed this photo, because it's far from technically perfect, but in the end, it's one of my favorite pictures.
  • Don’t Expect Perfection 4 of 10
    Don't Expect Perfection
    You're not always going to have access to a prime photo taking spot, so go easy on yourself. You might not get a perfect photo, but, in the end, if it captures the moment, you got it right.
  • Edit, Edit, Edit 5 of 10
    Edit, Edit, Edit
    You can't always expect perfection, but remember that you can, and should, edit your photos. The original of this photo had half of a parent in the foreground and approximately 87 million spectators in the background. Cropping it down to a tighter shot reduced most of the clutter and puts the focus where it belongs...on the players.
  • It’s Not Just About the Players 6 of 10
    It's Not Just About the Players
    Coaches, parents and volunteers play a big part in your child's sports career. Don't focus too heavily on just the players, or you'll miss some really great moments- like this father and son who are both ready for some action.
  • Don’t Forget the Small Things 7 of 10
    Don't Forget the Small Things
    It's tempting to only be at the ready to take pictures when something exciting is happening. But if you take the time to photograph during the downtime, you can end up with some pretty adorable shots.
  • Spectators Count 8 of 10
    Spectators Count
    If you don't stop and look around (the bleachers) once in a while, you might miss it. "It" being some pretty special moments involving spectators. Fan celebrations and visiting family members are fun things to look back on and remember.
  • Sharing is Caring 9 of 10
    Sharing is Caring
    Now that you've taken all of these great photos, you need to be able to share them with the world! Shutterfly has a great (free) team photo site that allows team members to upload and share photos. But that's just one of many, many options. Do your research and figure out what works best for you and your family. And your team!
  • Last, But Not Least 10 of 10
    Last, But Not Least
    Have fun! We constantly tell our kids that it's about having fun, not winning. Take that message to heart, because it applies to your job as photographer, too.

Read more from Meghan on MeghanGWine and From Demo to Dream.

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