Introduction to Football Photography

American football photography presents difficulties that are different from traditional photography. In this article, I’ll guide you through helpful methods that will get you up to speed on gear and techniques so that you will be able to score the perfect touchdown this fall!


A speedy DSLR lens and camera are a requirement. The lens and the camera must be able to both auto-focus quickly. My preferred camera for the past few years has been the Canon 1D-Mark IIn, which has the Canon 70-200 Image stabilized 2.8 lenses.

Canon 1D series is noted for its extremely fast focus, particularly when it is making use of the central point. The 1D series also is the highest quality of Canon technology, resulting in very low noise even at the highest ISO settings. The colors are bright and warm, and the images are very sharp.

A monopod may be helpful sometimes; however, if you’ve got an unsteady hand, you’re better off using your hands to hold the camera.


I prefer shooting using Manual Mode at all times using AI Servo Auto Focus. The process of setting exposure can be difficult in sunny weather because certain areas of the field are a couple of stops lower or higher based on where the sun’s coming in.

There aren’t any hard or quick rules. However, I do have some useful tricks.

You can set your exposure by pointing towards the grass in the public space of the field where you anticipate the play to take place. Adjust the shutter speed and aperture until you’ve got your exposure to “0” or “-1/3”.
Experiment with exposing white to the uniforms. It is possible to use the white stripes on the uniform of the referee or any player’s uniform or helmet. Adjust the exposure and take one test shot until your camera shows the whites begin to “blink” in the viewfinder, indicating that it is overexposed. This is particularly useful when you shoot backlit and need to make sure the player’s faces aren’t too dark in their helmets.
If you’re shooting during the day, you should consider changing your white balance setting in the setting “Cloudy” in place of “Sunny” as well as “Auto(AWB).” “Cloudy” or “Cloudy” white balance option provides an edgier and more vibrant image to subjects that are on a sunny day.

There can be no substitute for actual experience. It is possible to improve your skills by shooting more times. However, there are some tricks to help you improve faster.

Find out more about football and the sport of American football. A key “trick” to getting amazing shots is to be aware beforehand of how the action will take place on the football field. Knowing football’s strategy and the most important players on the field will aid you in obtaining the most effective shots. Be aware of mismatches in which one player is better than the other.
Utilize the lighting. I typically shoot football matches, and I remain in mind the position of the sun to increase the contrast of my images. Backlighting is extremely efficient. However, I prefer the contrast and colors from side lighting and angled lighting, where is the sun behind and slightly to the left.
Don’t use too much shutter speed. If you’re looking to stop the action, 1/500s to 1/1000s is typically adequate and suitable for American football. A speed that is higher than 1/2000s in extremely bright conditions is a bit too fast and causes the loss of the depth of field. However, you can still achieve stunning out-of-focus background and bokeh by using apertures of 4.0 to 5.6 and have greater detail of your subject’s sharp focus.
Make sure your subject is at the center of the screen, and keep him in the center using auto-focus at the center of the screen. If you know that a happening, then shoot with a burst of speed until your action is over. There will be lots of photos to look through, but this increases the chances that you’ll capture some stunning shots.
For more information and suggestions, I suggest you look into the forums for sports on There are numerous professional shooters on the forum who provide free guidance and feedback. Have a great time this autumn!