Whats up Infinity family!
My name is Hozana Arceri and I am a professional sports photographer that owns two businesses dealing with photography and sports. By no means am I saying I’m the greatest or most knowledgable, but I believe that I can add some knowledge to you or insight into the world of sports photography. So here we go!
The very first question I get asked when telling someone I do sports photography is “O you must have a ton of nice camera gear?”. After giving them a big smile because I would actually like to have a entire room of nice gear, I answer by saying no, not really. Nothing the average person can’t obtain or may already have. The person usually looks at me by this point with either a face of wonder or one that says “o you must not be that good”. In this post I want to begin with a statement: YOU ARE WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Many people are passionate about their gifts or talents but never explore them enough because the words of foolish people get to them. The ones you tell you that you can’t are usually the ones that really can’t themselves. Back to photography now haha. One of the biggest misunderstandings in photography is that you have to have nice gear or amazing connections to become a great photographer. This is especially hard hitting in the sports photography world. That however is false. I come from a background of never picking up a camera until about 3 years ago and as I write this today I own my own photography business, an online sports news outlet geared around sports photos, and can claim that I am a professional sports photographer. Not because I have a degree telling me that I am one, or some certificate hanging on my wall. I can say that about myself because I am confident in my work and know what looks good to my eyes. This mindset is how you stay unique within industries such as photography where there are so many people trying to be the same thing as you while creating the same product as everyone else. There is always a need for your style and vision of photography…its finding where that need is that brings a challenge at times. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to learn your craft and refine your skills, but don’t let that take away from letting your imagination take off when it comes to go time. Practice your craft, skills, eye for an image, but when it comes to going out and taking photos for a client or yourself…let it all go and have fun.
Now that we have a good foundation of a correct mindset to have lets jump into some of the more practical stuff you thought you would read in this post. Gear gear gear! Its probably one of the most over-talked topics in photography but your gear does help you as a photographer (your gear adds to your eye, the real skill. I doesn’t define it). Most people get lost at this point in a discussion within photography or blown away with information by that guy who has been shooting since TV was invented and now works for NASA, the FBI, and Starbucks. There is so much gear out there for photography it overwhelms me all the time. Just like anything though it needs to be attacked with a plan. For me I played sports my whole life so I knew when I got into photography I wanted to do so with exactly that. I started doing research about people in the industry that were successful, that were different, and found out what they were using. You’d be surprised how far googling “famous sports photographer” will take you. This is one of those crafting and refining you skill parts I was talking about above. I can tell you that if you are going to get into sports photography or any other photography, investing your money in a couple of good lenses first is a great start. Picture it like this (see what I did there haha) your camera body is like eyelids to your eye. The open and close…thats about it. Your lens or lenses are the eye itself. They determine what you see, how far you can see, or how wide you see. This is why investing in a lens is a safe start. Even with a kit camera body adding a nice lens can improve the quality of your photos drastically. Now at this point you may be thinking “ok ok, but what about all those crazy settings in the camera? I don’t know anything about lighting or aperture.” This is the part where you may get a little overwhelmed but be assured every photographer was overwhelmed at this exact point at one time. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Your camera may be the eyelids but its also the brain to your gear. Knowing how to effectively use your brain is always a plus. There are 3 main settings you really use all the time:
- Shutter Speed (the speed at which your “eyelids” camera opens and closes)
- Aperture (the depth your image will have. Background is in focus as well as my foreground or the background is blurred out and focus is kept only on the foreground)
- ISO (How much light your camera takes in every time your “eyelids” camera opens and closes)
All three of these go hand and hand with each other. For example lets say I’m taking sports photos at 2pm on a sunny day. Because I’m shooting sports I know my subjects are going to be moving at a high speed and probably running or moving their body in fast motions. (PS you should always shoot in Manuel mode to have full control over all these settings)
That means that I want my shutter speed to be really high in order to capture the subject with that frozen in time look. For most sports as long as your shutter speed is at 1/1000 of a second or higher you should be good to achieve that effect. But shutter speeds have one draw back…The higher you set your speed at, the less light it takes in because of how fast it opens and closes “eyelids” which could result in dark photos. The lower you set your shutter speed the more light it lets in but it may cause blurry photos because of how long your camera is letting light in and results in really over exposed images.
This is one you usually don’t need to adjust to much unless you know how to really work your craft and need that little adjustment that only you will notice. Aperture is how much depth your photo has. If my aperture is at say 2.8 and a person is 4ft away from me…in my photo the background will be blurred out and my subject will be in focus. However if my aperture is 20, the person in front of me and the background are all sharp and in focus. Just like our shutter speed that is a drawback. The lower the aperture the more light your camera lets in. The higher the aperture the less light your camera takes in. For our scenario above we know that its sunny out, our shutter speed needs to be high, and for most sports photos we want a blurry background. So I would try to keep my aperture as low as possible to let as much light in as I can in order to keep my shutter speed high.
ISO stands for International Standards Organization, and it is a standardized industry scale for measuring sensitivity to light (yes I pulled that from google). As the lens of your camera opens and closes it lets light in but you can set the level of which you want with your ISO. The lower the ISO the less light your camera takes in (ISO 125). The higher the ISO the more light your camera takes in (ISO 2000). The trade off is this. The higher your ISO the more grainy your image will be due to your camera trying to grab more light. This applies after ISO 2000 for average cameras. For our example above I would obviously try and keep my ISO as low as I can without making the photo to dark. One of the things I really try to do is keep my ISO as low as possible while still obtaining a well lit photo.
Hopefully by now you have a little better understanding about photography and even a little to get you moving in the right direction. I will leave you with this last statement. What you put into something will show up in the results whether you see it or not. Photography is one of those trades that starts out as a hobby for most and becomes a job. There is a point in between both of those sides where you need to take a leap of faith. Both finically and mentally. If its really something you want to do then jump with both feet and see where you land! Thats what I did and I survived because my passion for photography keeps me going even when/if times get tough. Remember, work should be fun! If there every comes a point in photography where you aren’t having much fun anymore, take a step back and let your creative mind explore a little bit to get away from the business or job part of photography. God bless and keep snapping!
If you want to see more of my work you can visit my website at HozanaArcei.com or visit the online sports news outlet I run at ElevateNorthHouston.com.