So we’ve been hammering the point that you need to take chances and make different kinds of pictures rather than the standard frozen action pictures we see clogging the pool. Don’t count on that stopping anytime soon. Variety is important both to people who view your pictures and to your continued development as a sports photographer.
I was trying to think of a scenario to drive this point home again, and I was reminded by a re-run of the episode of Mad Men where they are pitching Kodak’s slide projector. Surely everyone has been subjected to a slideshow (in the old days) and a gigantic Flickr/Facebook gallery sent via email (modern times) whether it is vacation pictures, a new baby, or Junior’s latest little league game. These galleries are always overloaded, containing three or four times as many pictures as they should, but worse, picture after picture nearly indistinguishable from the last.
I know because I used to do this. When I first started shooting sports, I would put 70-100 pictures from one event in a Flickr gallery. The first sporting event I shot (2007 Amgen Tour of California) produced a gallery that had at least 40 pictures of cyclists turning the exact same corner. They were decent pictures taken while laying on the sidewalk while the riders leaned through the turn, but no one wants to see 40 versions of the same picture with only the uniform varying. At some point, and old friend and sort-of mentor told me that he wasn’t going to look at my pictures and give me feedback anymore because there was too much of the same to sort through. While this initially annoyed me, it ended up helping me more than just about anything else because it did two things: it forced me to edit much more tightly, and it also made me consider how I shot in real time so that I could show a decent number of pictures in a gallery and not have people getting bored.
In time, as you get more experience, you can tell the story of a game or event with fewer and fewer pictures, and this is a worthy goal. But on the way, as you learn to anticipate the important moments and necessary pictures, you can use variety to at least make your galleries interesting enough for others to view. Vary your angles, shooting positions, throw in some multiple exposure, panning, wide and long shots, and anything else that is appropriate for the venue/sport. Show your viewer that you were thinking about shooting rather than just being somewhere and pressing the shutter button a couple hundred times.
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