10 tips for taking striking soccer pictures

Photography tips: how to take amazing soccer pictures - unusual perspective

Photography tips: how to take amazing soccer pictures

All images copyright Marc Aspland

Are you a dedicated soccer fan and want to translate your enthusiasm into more dynamic soccer pictures? Whether you’re shooting your local team or your child’s after-school squad, we spoke to award-winning Times sports photographer Marc Aspland to find out his secrets for getting top-notch soccer pictures.

From the Estadio Bernabéu in Madrid, photographing Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona in the semi-final of the Champions League, to photographing his own soccer star playing for Wheathampsted Wanderers FC Under 13s, great soccer pictures are just a click away, Marc says. Here are his ten top photography tips

Photography tips: how to take amazing soccer pictures - unusual perspective

Tip 1: Fast shutter speed to freeze action
With the latest digital cameras, don’t be afraid to raise the ISO to obtain a high shutter speed. Anything over 1/1000sec will freeze the ball and give a super-sharp image.

Tip 2: Widest available aperture
Use your lens’s widest aperture – usually between f/2.8 to f/5.6. This will offer a very shallow depth of field, so the background will be thrown out of focus and therefore concentrate the eye on the action (download our Free f-stop chart for understanding aperture).

Tip 3: Follow the action
As the players come towards you, if you sit behind the goal, follow the action by looking through the viewfinder; if you are tempted to look up and see if the striker has scored, you will have missed the picture! Use AI Servo AF mode to ‘follow-focus’ the play too.

Tip 4: Sit behind the box
By sitting next to the goal, position yourself on the edge of the box for best ‘side-on’ view of goalmouth action (for more on finding the best view, see our 10 rules for photo composition – and why they work).

Photography tips: how to take amazing soccer pictures - capture emotion

Tip 5: Look for the emotion
The winning goal-scorer will celebrate as the goalkeeper will show his dejection. Keep shooting after the goal has been scored as some of the best pictures happen after the decisive moment, revealing the wonderful winner/loser emotions.

Photography tips: how to take amazing soccer pictures - the fans

Tip 6: The fans
Look for the emotions of the fans; they always make great pictures. From Barcelona fans at Camp Nou to your local soccer clubs, every fan is the same and they will always offer a variety of emotions while passionately supporting their team.

Photography tips: how to take amazing soccer pictures - drama

Tip 7: The incidents
The bad tackle, the yellow card or red card – and the reactions of teammates when the red card is flashed – all make great pictures.

Tip 8: Shooting under floodlights
Don’t be afraid of taking wide-angle views at night of the play under floodlights. Soccer is a game played in autumn and winter, and great pictures can be often be captured in the pouring rain or the thickest fog.

Tip 9: Be brave
Try and shoot a pan-blur action picture (see our guide to How to create a sense of speed in your photos). Stand on the touchline, so the action is happening from left-to-right, and set the shutter to as low as 1/30 sec, and take pictures of players as they run down the pitch. You’ll be amazed at the artistic merits of these pictures.

Tip 10: Practice makes perfect
If you’re unhappy with your results, don’t be disheartened – go to the next game, whether in the park shooting under-16s or your local team, and try and push the boundaries of what you think you can achieve.


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