Generic filters
Exact matches only
Generic filters
Exact matches only

How to Become a Sports Photographer

Save for later
To login click here

Table of Contents

Every day, we see photographs of several sports stars from the world of sports. These photographs are the works of professional Sports Photographers. Sports Photography has a significant place in the sports press. The primary role of sports photography is to present sports as art to readers and viewers.

Photographs tell stories that a thousand words might not be able to tell. Photographs capture the reactions of a soccer player when their team loses to an opposing team.

Being a genre of professional photography, Sports photography covers sports of all types and is also a part of photojournalism.

Basic Requirments of Aspiring Sports Photographers

In their craft, Sports photographers consider a lot of things before covering a sporting event. Some of these are:

Gear: Good equipment is an important aspect of professional sports photography. It is always difficult to take good sports photos without an SLR (single-lens reflex camera) and long lenses. Those long lenses also must be fast enough to get good. photos. Again, it is also important to have good lighting equipment as good or bad lighting holds a lot of sway in sports photography.

Focus: Sports Photographers need to know about auto-focus and its settings. This helps them focus the lens on moving objects and keep the images looking sharp.

Shooting more than the action: It is just as important to shoot reactions as much as actions. For instance, when a soccer player scores a goal, the reaction of the player and the opponents to that goal will be very important to capture.

Access: Sports Photographers always consider how close they will be to the action. For instance, sitting in the bleachers at a stadium will not provide proper chances to get the desirable magic shots.

Responsibilities of a Sports photographer

Sports photographers are professionals that are hired to shoot quality photos at sporting events, of athletes, and crowds cheering on their teams. They are usually trained as photographers but also have a thorough knowledge of the sports they are assigned to shoot. They can also specialize in shooting two sports that have similar characteristics like soccer and hockey which are both fast-paced, unpredictable sports.

Below are some of the responsibilities of a Sports Photographer:

  1. Sports Photographers work closely with journalists, picture editors, and everyone concerned with a project to agree on requirements.
  2. As a Sports Photographer, you will photograph sporting events and personalities while noting the captions for the photographs.
  3. Sports Photographers usually work with deadlines. They make sure all the photographs are appropriate, processed, and ready before deadlines.
  4. As a Sports Photographer, you must keep yourself up-to-date with all the current happenings in your area of specialization. If you photograph soccer, you must know what is going on with soccer teams.
  5. Sports Photographers also work with weather updates and check the values attached to their shoot locations. This usually helps to prepare for whatever is to come.
  6. As a Sports Photographer, you will have to protect and maintain your photographic and electronic equipment.

Sports Photographer

Skills of a Sports Photographer

  • Active Listening and Attention to Detail: As a Sports Photographer, you must pay attention to every detail and give full attention to what other people are saying. You must take time to understand the points being made and ask appropriate questions.
  • Communication Skills: You must know how to communicate effectively with people, both orally and in writing.
  • Social Perception: You must be aware of people’s reactions and understand why they react the way they do. This is especially important because, in games like soccer, you must shoot the reaction of the players in the winning and losing teams. Their reactions are sometimes more important than their actions when conveying the story.
  • Technical Skills: Sports Photographers need to know how to use digital and non-digital cameras as well as industry-standard software such as Photoshop and Lightroom.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Being a Sports Photographer, you must have the ability to identify complex problems and develop solutions to those problems.
  • Creativity: You must be creative in taking photographs and have an eye for pictures.

Other important skills for every expert in Sports Photography are:

  • Patience and concentration
  • Strong networking skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Active learning skills

Educational Requirements for a Sports Photographer

It is not entirely necessary to have a degree before going into Sports Photography, but of course, it is an added advantage. You can start a career as a Sports Photographer if you have the skills that are needed in the career path.

If you are going to bag a degree, however, a degree in Photography or Film Production is the best bet. Here are some reputable schools where you can get a Bachelor’s degree in Photography.

  1. Coventry University in the United Kingdom offers a Photography BA (Hons) The program focuses on the development of problem-solving, reflective practice, critical thinking, technical and practical skills related to photographic practice. The degree provides the opportunity to develop your technical skills and teaches you to understand what it is to be in a professional photographic environment. It will develop your understanding of visual communications within the context of different industries, ranging from fashion photography to fine art. The study options are 3 years full-time and 4 years sandwich. The tuition for international students is £16,400.
  2. Limerick Institute of Technology in Ireland offers a BA (Hons) in Photography, Film and Video degree. The degree will provide you with a comprehensive skillset, founded on the principles of traditional photographic, moving image, and lens-based media processes, as they apply and are relevant to the rapidly advancing field of contemporary digital media, post-photographic, and post-internet discourses. The tuition for international students is €10,250. The duration is 3 years + 1-year common-entry course.

Job Outlook and Salary of a Sports Photographer

Sports photography is a very competitive field, and this means that the demand will not always be as much as interested candidates.

  • According to Neuvoo, the average salary for Sports Photographers in the United Kingdom is £26,000 per year. Entry-level positions start earning at £14,400 per year while most experienced workers make up to £44,200 per year.
  • Payscale estimates the average salary for Sports Photographers in the United States of America as $36,936 per year.
  • According to Neuvoo, the average salary for Sports Photographers is $39,000 per year. Entry-level positions start earning at $21,000 per year while most experienced workers earn up to $66,300 per year.
  • Salaryexplorer estimates the average salary for Photographers in Nigeria as 248,000 NGN per month.

Sports Photography

Typical Employers of  a Sports Photographer

Many Sports Photographers work for Media houses, mostly media houses with sports publications like magazines or newspapers. Freelance Sports Photography is the most common type of sports photography. Employers of Sports Photographers include:

  • Sports Agencies
  • Picture libraries
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Catalogues

Famous Sports Photographers

Eniye Clement: Eniye is a Nigerian Sports Photographer. He grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and honed his passion for sports photography in the New York Institute of Photography among other formal learning establishments. He has taken photographs of footballers like J.J Okocha. You can find more about him on

Walter Iooss: Walter is considered a legend in the world of sports photography. He is known around the world as the most famous sports photographer to ever use a camera. Walter has shot the cover of Sports Illustrated almost 300 times, including 10 of the magazine’s famous swimsuit covers. He is 65 years old and has also documented every major sports figure from baseball great Roger Maris to tennis star Serena Williams, and he is still taking photographs today. The most famous covers he has shot include basketball great Michael Jordan, baseball 500-home run hitter Ken Griffey, Jr., football giant Brett Favre, golf phenom Tiger Woods and boxing legends Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Walter’s career is up to 40 years and it has produced several extraordinary contributions to sports photography with awards to show their achievements.

Hy Money: She is considered Britain’s first female sports photographer. Being very determined, she made her mark in the world of sports photography at a time when women could not stand at the sidelines to take photographs at certain sporting events. She was involved in a two-year battle after which she covered British football matches. She went on to earn the title of the first female photographer on Fleet Street.

Careers Related to Sports Photography

Press Photography: Press Photographers take pictures to record news, current events, and lifestyle stories. They try to capture the best images to document an event, tell a story, or convey a message to support words printed on a magazine or newspaper. Press photography is also known as editorial photography, however, experts in the field can develop their roles in Photojournalism.

Video Production Specialist: A Video Production Specialist is a professional who edits and assembles recorded raw video footage into a presentable finished product that is ready to be shared with the public. He/she may not necessarily shoot the videos as someone else may take that responsibility. However, they are always at the backend of every video shoot. They can use cameras, recording equipment, lighting equipment, and set up the entire recording process.

Sports Photographer

Postgraduate Options for Sports Photographers

MA Photography from Norwich University of the Arts in the United Kingdom. The postgraduate photography course is primarily practice-led. Still, theoretical and contextual aspects of photography are also extensively taught. The degree will help you develop a deep understanding of the professional and commercial contexts for your work, as well as exploring the possibilities for moving images in contemporary photography. The tuition for international students is £15,000. The study options are part-time or full time on campus for 1-2 years.

Master in Film Production from the University of Lincoln in Lincoln, United Kingdom. This program will help you develop professional skills for senior managerial and professional roles in the media space. It covers the ethics, laws, and regulatory frameworks that govern the industry. It also offers a chance to tailor your studies to your interests and career aspirations by choosing to focus on the creative production of fiction, documentary, or experimental projects across a wide range of media platforms. The tuition for international students is £15,700 for 1-2 years, either part-time or full-time studies.

Master in Multimedia, Photography, and Design from Syracuse University in the United States of America. This program is designed for students who are passionate about all types of visual storytelling: photography, videography/cinematography, design, and multimedia. The duration of the program is 1 year full-time and the tuition for international students is $54,626. The program is studied entirely on campus.

Professional Qualifications for Sports Photographers

The Professional Photographer Certificate Course: This is a part-time online learning program with suggested readings from the textbook, FabJob Guide to Become a Professional Photographer. The course teaches what a professional photographer does, how to develop your skills to succeed, how to start your own business as a professional photographer, how to market your photography business, and get clients. It is recommended to complete this program between 4-12 weeks. The fee for the course is $149. After the program, you get a certificate that you can also print out.

The Certified Professional Photographer: This program is run by Professional Photographers of America (PPA), a non-profit organization with over 30,000 members. You have to be a member of the PPA to enrol in the Certified Professional Photographer program. The membership price is between $17 and $28 per month. Once you are a member, you will apply and pay a $200 fee, which will give you a window of two years to complete the program. The next step is to pass an examination that covers various aspects of photography and includes questions about light, exposure, shutter-speed composition, and equipment. The PPA’s website provides exam-preparation resources and sample tests to help you prepare for the examination.

Need to learn more about what university is best for you? Send me an email right away.


Looking for fresh content?

Get career and educational articles and insights from our weekly newsletter.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Average Salary: N/A
Job Satisfaction: N/A
You might also like