We are in full swing back-to-school here in Longview, Texas and that means along with all the daily chaos of school activities, we also have the fall sports fully activated! Whether your kids are playing football, baseball, tennis, soccer, dancing, or anything and everything in between, we often struggle with getting those great pictures of them in action. Here are a few tips to help you take better sport or action photos of your kids.

1. Burst Mode

Whether you are using your iPhone, DSLR, or a point and shoot, burst mode is your friend for any fast moving event. When setting your camera to burst mode, it enables you to take many pictures at once. For your iPhone, once in your camera, simply hold down the shutter button and it will take many pictures quickly. For your DSLR or point and shoot, you’ll have to check your manual or the menu to make sure burst mode is enabled. Then, hold down your shutter and you should be able to hear it clicking quickly. 

2. Turn the Flash Off

Usually at these sporting events, there’s plenty of natural or stadium light. Turn off the flash so you don’t wash your subjects out. If there is not enough light, you’ll have to check your camera menu for low light settings. For your iPhone, if you touch your screen and hold it, a small icon will appear that looks like a little sun. Once there you can slide your finger up or down to adjust the brightness. (All of these below were with my iPhone 7 at the time)

3. Lock Your Focus

On your iPhone, you have the ability to lock your focus on your subject. Tap the screen on your subject and hold your finger down. It will lock your focus and should track it fairly well to keep your picture sharp. DSLR cameras and point and shoots now have so many focal points that you should be able to find a good central one and keep that on your subject. A higher f-stop will also keep everything sharp. If you’re shooting on Auto, than don’t worry about the f-stop at all. 

4. Avoid Zooming In

Ok, this one is mostly directed towards those using a camera built into their phone. This is where photographing anyone in action from far away can be limiting. If all you have is your phone, then it’s better to lock your focus and take the picture and crop later in some kind of editing software or in your in camera editor. The amount of pixels available on your phone simply will not allow for you to zoom all the way in from up in the stands and retain good quality. Your photo will be grainy or pixelated, or both. If you really want some great action shots, an entry level DSLR with a decent zoom lens or higher level point and shoot will be a better option. 

5. Angles Matter

If you can get closer to the field, dugout, or whatever the scene, do it! You won’t be disappointed, but you do sometimes have to be creative. Move around, don’t just settle for the one spot you’re in, at the one height you are. 

6. Upgrade Your Camera

This is the best option if you know you’ll be devoting a ton of time to these events and want great shots of your kids. Buying a new camera can be overwhelming so it’s important to do a little research before jumping in. Generally, your entry level DSLR will be miles ahead of your phone and you’ll love the color and sharp images, even in auto mode.

7. Look for the Memorable Moments

It helps if you know the game well enough to anticipate what will happen or how your child will react, but even if you don’t, stay aware of all the things happening. What would you want to remember from the game? Probably reactions, intensity, team spirit, thoughtfulness, struggles, helping one another, etc. Look for those moments and document them. You’ll be glad you did!

Use these tips for your next event and future ones to practice. It won’t take long before you are catching those perfectly timed moments to treasure forever!