I started doing something that turned out very helpful. I go to my daughter’s handball games pretty often to take pictures. The way i used to do it, i’d just turn up and move around taking pictures and try to get at least a few usable shots of each girl on the team. One day, i heard someone suggesting that you storyboard your shoot in advance to plan what images you want to return home with. This made perfect sense to me. What also made sense was to think of what images are not even worth taking.
You may not be familiar with handball, but that doesn’t matter. Each player will typically have a certain role in the team and end up in the same places making the same moves. As a photographer, there are a few spots to choose between. You can cover the game from around the middle of the field or from around the corners. If you’re around the middle, you can get images of both the defensive and the offensive play and any running in between. Around the corners or behind the goal line, the defence players will have their backs turned to the camera.
I shoot with a 70-200 lens most of the time. I’ve noticed i get the best shots from the middle of the field, which is also where most of the action will happen. Someone playing on the side where i’m standing will be too close for this lens and someone playing across the field from me will be too far away, resulting in worse images. No point wasting time on those shots.
I figured the first thing to do would be to drop the idea of taking an equal number of pictures of every girl on the team and go for the good images instead. I’ll have the camera pointed at where the action is most likely to happen and be correctly zoomed in and ready when it does. I’ll sometimes zoom way in to try to get close-up action. If i’m zoomed out, i want to be zoomed out enough that the ball is in the picture, which makes the images a whole lot more interesting.
One other major discovery was that many great shots can be taken during warmup, or during the mid game intermission. During warmup, they often meet and talk a little and laugh at something and there are lots of good images to be found there.
I need to be all set up and ready before warmup. This is when you can catch some images that really tell a story.
And then there’s this thing that i forget so often – get the team picture. This is probably the picture that the girls will hold on to for the rest of their life. Make sure it gets taken. I often ask them to make some faces for a few shots at the end.
And hey – don’t miss the parents watching the game. And if the referees have personality, get some shots of them too.