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When I grow up I am hoping to become a photographer, preferably sports. I have my own digital camera and I take it to football matches and my pictures are coming out quite well, so I was wondering what qualifications I needed to maybe become a professional?
Thanks for your question. It is a wonderful thing to hope to become a photographer. When I was young I wished for the same thing.
This forum isn't the usual place for sports photography question, but I'm sure that mixed in with these large format photographers, there are those who photograph sports as well.
The best place to look for answers in the sports photography world is http://www.sportsshooter.com/
Another good place to look for photo-journalism, sports photography being a subgroup of photo-j, is http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0605/contents.html
Regarding qualifications, the only qualifications I believe in, when I use to look at portfolios when I work as a photo editor at USA Today, are creative problem solving, technical excellence, a passion for the craft, and the drive to succeed. This means you must be a good listener and observer first so you can learn from others.
Don't know where you live, so don't know where you're interested in going for a college degree (if at all), but if you're curious, I got my degree in Photo-Journalism from Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communications. http://newhouse.syr.edu/
Here's my SportsShooter web page http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=432
Here are article's I've written for SportsShooter.
I suppose a good start would be to find an appropriate
forum in which to ask this question. The is the "Large
Format Photography Forum". While there have been some
classic sports shots taken with large format cameras, it
is not very common these days.
You might try photo.net. In fact, there is a great
article there: www.photo.net/learn/sports/overview (http://www.photo.net/learn/sports/overview).
The article is several years old, so you'll have to translate
the bits about film into digital terms, but the rest of it
looks very useful.
photo.net also has a Sports Photography Forum:
I don't know how it is where you live, but in my city, there is one high school that specializes in art, including photography. I know that many students interested in possibly becomming professional photographers take some of these courses as it exposes them to not just learning to be a photographer, but what it takes to amke a living at it.
Also, many6 of the local community colleges in my area have a professional phtographers course. I forget how long it is, I think 3 to 4 years of school after high school. This also depends on what area of photography a student specializes in. For example, right now, you liek sprots photography, but who knows, ten years from now you might be shooting toasters for a new Ears catalog, or be an embedded news photographer travellign with the 101 Airborne in what mission they might be on at the time. It can lead you many places.
But the best start is to take whatever school course might be available in your area.
Permit me to add on to whats already been said.
1) Try to get a spot as photographer on your school newspaper
2)Try shooting some sporting event where you can get up close to the action, like bicycle races, smaller rodeos, celtic games, marital arts tournaments, etc...
3) Make a portfolio of those mages and try to interest your local paper, club news letter, or specialty magazine editors in your images.
By your e-mail address I assume that you are in the U.K and by football you mean FOOTBALL as played by the best leauge in the world. Dunno how we're gonna get along without Rooney but we'll still beat a lot of them (including The U.S.A. if they can raise a team). I don't know how old you are but if you want to get a bit of practice in try taking a few decent pictures of Sunday League matches at your local rec. When you are satisfied with ten or twelve take these (in print form) to your local paper and ask if their sports photographer would look at them and comment on them. If he is happy ask if you could accompany him (her) to a local non-leauge match so that you can look and learn. Good luck.
The key to successful sports photography is communicating the emotion. I am not a professional (I have a different career that pays the mortgage) but I did a lot of photography to add money to my pocket during my secondary (high) school and degree.
1. Take good pictures. Easier said than done, but with a bit of planning, knowing the sports and so on, even modest equipment can turn out appropriate shots. It is a question of anticipation and knowing the kit well.
2. Have a market. I sold copies of pictures to the people involved. Both sports (soccer, rowing and others) and theatre ( get in to the dress rehearsal and don't use a flash). Let people see the pics but don't let them take them away, sell them a copy. let the school/college magazine print for free as long as you get a byling (ie "Photo by Jamie" ). You will soon learn what sells and what doesn't. Soon you will be invited by the teams/theatre groups etc to events and all it will cost you is time. One tip, make sure you get a good shot of every player - people are interested in pictures of themselves, not just the star striker. As you get known you will then be asked or can offer to do eg team photos.
In many ways it is the easiest market to sell pictures in. You don't stand much of a hope in selling pictures of popular venues/big teams at this stage, so learn your craft on small matches where there is little or no competition for sales - if the photos are good enough they will sell. With an appropriate mark up (at high school I'd double the high street processors price for reprints, at Uni I'd go higher) you will then be able to save for better kit = better pictures (with the right talent) and then move up to a more commercial basis. Be professional in handling orders/money even though it is with classmates/friends and you are selling many pictures cheaply (it is a market, charge what the market will bear). If people complain about you maiking a profit, you tell them that they don't have to buy the picture, and that this is your saturday job.
I didn't make that last step to a full time career though I enjoyed doing reportage for the Uni newspaper and commission work for the prospectus as I pursued another career, keeping photography as a hobby. With the web technology now, it makes being a sunday league sports photographer really easy as you can distribute business cards with the website on and have on-line ordering direct to a printer at the prices you set. Much easier than when I was doing it in the 80's.
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