Matt and I, we both get occasional emails asking us how to grow a nice moustache. Strange, yes as Matt has the worst moustache I’ve ever seen on a human being. But even more occasionally, we get asked how one becomes a sports photographer. In most cases we tell people to go through the entire library of BLFS first and if we haven’t answered your question by the time you’ve listened to them all, only then come and ask us for our advice. We firmly believe that after 50 episodes of BLFS and our blog posts, there is enough information for you to decide whether or not becoming a sports photographer is actually not a stupid idea.
But sometimes we get questions that require us to actually write a blog post about it. About a week ago, my friend NL (he’s not Dutch, but to protect his identity, I’ve cleverly came up with this acronym) who is 12 years of age, asked me how he can become a sports photographer. Just so people don’t start speed dialling their local authorities, NL and I met about 2 years ago at my friend’s wedding which I was shooting, of course. An intelligent chap and we’ve kept in touch since. I don’t think I have had any influence on him wanting to become a sports photographer, but he sounded serious enough. So maybe he’s the odd one here. What was interesting about his question is that he wanted to know which classes should he take at school to help him become a sports photographer. Interesting. I then asked him to give me the list of classes available at the moment. They are as follows:
Therefore if you are an aspiring sports photographer between the ages of 10-12, here are the classes Ryu tells you to take:
I think this is a no brainer. What we teach at BLFS is for you to come up with your own distinct style. We don’t want you to become a cookie cutter sports photographer. The only way you can do is to look at other people’s work, but in a much broader sense. If you have been paying a bit of an attention to the world around you, photography is not the only art form out there. Painting, sculpting, dance, music, video, fashion, whatever. Art is sometimes unnecessarily everywhere. I’m assuming this “Art” class will concentrate on a traditional definition of art so painting, sculpting, installations, and other fun things like art history. As a sports photographer, to have interest in other forms of art is very important. You don’t know where your next inspiration can come from. Looking at beautiful things and learning the process behind it will help you through your creative processl. So yes to art and try not to fall asleep when you’re forced to remember when van Gogh detached his ear off his face.
I called it PE in my school as well, so we are cool. In this profession, you need to be fit. So definitely yes to PE. Because in some cases you have to run to your shooting location ahead of the others. It’s usually first come first served so you should even start raining by running with 20kg of gear on you. If you don’t have that much gear near you, carry your classmate around your neck and run around. That might help. In any case, keep fit and strong. Exhaustion in any form will ruin any concentration and you’ll need plenty of it during the course of a match.
I’m not into history much, even if it involves art and dinosaurs. But this is about whether this class will help him with his pursuit of a career in sports photography. I say no. I don’t remember a single moment when I thought “God damn it, had I known the day Berlin wall fell, I’d have shot that football match better”. Therefore, no. But in general you should know a bit of history. Says my wife.
Same as Art. Music can inspire you, unless you don’t like music. Which is fine.
If we lived in an age of BW photography and you needed to know the chemical reactions that occur in a developing bath then yes. It’s better to know these things because when you do, you can become a mad scientist in the dark room. But we live in the 21st century and I have feeling that most schools don’t even have a dark room. I don’t think quantum physics and molecular biology will help you come up with a better composition and lighting for the coming cricket match. Unless someone comes up with cell football.
My wife will say yes (she’s French) and surprisingly I’ll say yes as well. Not necessarily French, but learning another language. If you are not a dumb American, Australian, or Anglo-Saxon, you need to learn how to speak another language. This is to prevent you from being ridiculed when you leave your country. The reason is that if you want to become a sports photographer, it will be very helpful if you have good communication skills. I don’t want you to just end up shooting in your own country, but to travel around the word shooting sumo and sepak takraw and jai alai. You should aspire to become an international sports photographer. Therefore if you can blag your way around in Spanish, French, or whatever, you’ll be that much better than the other monolingual sports photographers. Combine that with charm, you’ll get into places no other sports photographers dare try. Since so much of sports photography hinges on location, if you can sweet talk a Belorussian security guard into getting a position where you are normally not allowed to, you’re golden.
I have no idea what this class entails. I guess you talk about modern things. But for some reason, it will probably be much less important than math, which is conveniently lacking from this list. Most of photography is based on math. So you should definitely take it. No, you don’t need to have AP-Calculus under your belt to get a better angle on your remote cam at a high school basketball game, but you need to know basic math.
Okay, just googled it. This is a class very specific to schools in Scotland. From what I’ve read on wikipedia, no, you don’t really need it to become a sports photographer. But if you’re a Scot and in need of separation from those pesky English at some point in your life time, then yes.
Yes. At the very least you should know where 90% of the countries in this world is located and whether how many transportation options are there for you to travel from Barcelona to Madrid (Answer: 4 bus, train, car, and plane). If you do not know where your own state is located (hint hint Americans), it’s bad. I overheard a conversation last night with an American trying to describe to a Madridista where he is from. “Yes, I live hour and a half from Buffalo”. As if someone in Madrid knows any other cities in USA besides New York and LA. By learning about each country in a geographical sense, you won’t be caught wearing a down jacket and leggings boarding on a flight to the Australian Open.
I’ve never taken one, but I’m assuming you make things, right? Unless you are going to start your kickstarter campaign to fund a underwater housing for your Polaroid camera, I wouldn’t bother. Some people like to concoct things on their own to make their job easier like that guy who invented the monopod socket to put an umbrella or that guy who invented a monopod socket to put a tray for your laptop. To date I have not invented a single gadget to help me with my sports photography. Maybe I should.
I have no idea what this is. I’m assuming it’s something technical which makes me think it’s the same as Home Economics. Which means NL wrote it down twice or I’m too stupid that I have no idea what this is. I first thought about basketball when I read it.
Oh come on now. It’s 2015 and you still have I.T.? I mean, that shit should be in your life by now. Unless you are so shit at using computers or anything with dials and knobs, you should take it. But then, who uses dials and knobs now? Okay, forget it. Don’t take it. There you have it NL. I’ve made my recommendations. In the future, take a business class. Remember that if you want to become a professional sports photographer, treat it like a business, not like a hobby. But if you want to do it as a hobby,treated as a hobby. And a photography course? Definitely yes. If it wasn’t for the photography courses I took in high school, I wouldn’t be here right now. I also hope that you will be able to process BW film. Because that shit is magic. I’m not guaranteeing that you are well on your way to become a rockstar sports photographer after taking these courses, but at least these classes will put you on the track to a better sports photography life. And I’m definitely not guaranteeing that you will be popular with the ladies if you ever become one, but you know that already. :)
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