People often ask me what the key factors are in shooting great action photography. This is one of the most challenging skill sets required to produce consistent and creative images for a number of online and offline publications. We are grateful to have been exposed to some of the top motorsport and wildlife adventures on the planet, and to have been privileged with the time and technology to develop these skills.
I think that the first steps required are to have the passion to persist in what can be a frustrating learning curve, the humility to learn from others who have walked the same path, and the creative talent to develop your own signature style. Action photography encompasses any fast-moving, unpredictable and high intensity situation that you may be faced with whilst out there with your camera.
Five Key Factors to Consider:
1. Have your gear set up and ready to shoot before you get into a situation you may wish to capture.
2. Keep a level head and focus on the result you want to achieve. It is very easy to become distracted by peripheral issues and secondary action that could cause you to miss the shot.
3. Decide on what technique you prefer to use in each case. You may wish to freeze the action by using a high shutter speed or you may want challenge yourself to use a lower shutter speed and pan with the subject to create an impressive speed blur around it, while capturing the focal point with pin sharp detail.
4. Study the various techniques and setups you could use by reading up on the subject or taking a course with a reputable photographic college, but my best advice is for you to spend time with a seasoned pro, help them with their shoots in whatever way you can and learn from them. They have paid the school fees and are often open to sharing their experience with others who share their passion for photography and are prepared to watch, listen and learn whilst helping where they can.
5. Anticipation is akin to the sixth sense you need to develop in fast-moving situations. It really helps to position yourself ahead of time in what you believe will be the best spot to create a well-balanced and interesting composition, using the available light to your advantage.
Digital photography has opened up a whole new world to budding photographers by allowing instant access to results. This puts you in a position to experiment to your heart’s content whilst perfecting your new skill set. Just remember that once you are in a high action situation, you need to have your wits about you. Be as prepared as possible to capture that elusive image that will bring you back for more and make you feel like a pro.