Wednesday, December 17, 2014

7 Lessons in Sports Photography with Ginger Snaps

Amber Zewert is a freshman at Iowa State University studying Art & Design, who started her own photography business: Ginger Snaps. I first saw Amber's photography on Facebook years ago when she started taking pictures of sporting events at her school. Having just received a new camera myself (Nikon D3200), and watching many of my fellow gym moms and dads take a ton of fantastic photos of their kids' events, I knew I had a lot to learn.

We started with the camera. Amber started with a Nikon Coolpix her sophomore year of high school, but says, "today I use a Canon EOS T3i Rebel and I love it. It is way more fancy than my point and shoot camera I started with... I use [a] longer lens (75-300mm) for sports shots and I use the short lens (18-55mm) for senior portraits." Use the appropriate lens for the appropriate venue. Lesson #1!

Whether shooting sports or senior portraits, she really looks for photos that are unexpected or caught in the moment. When it comes to sports, she says, "I look for those team hugs, an arm around the shoulder when the coach is talking to a player, or a player helping an opponent get up after being knocked down. Those are the images I really like to get because sometimes they get over looked, and when people see these images they just love them." I love Amber's focus on unique images. Lesson #2 - catch the "stolen moments" as often as possible.

Lesson #3 - "You don't need a fancy camera to take awesome sports pictures or pictures of your kids in general. It just takes practice and time." Don't expect to get the perfect shot every time. Be patient. Amber says, "It takes practice and it also helps to read up on some photography blogs or Pinterest posts if you have questions, because there are tons of people out there who have more experience or a broader knowledge and you can always learn more." That is totally lesson #4 - take time to learn from those around you; ask questions if you need help. 

What started with taking pictures at volleyball games in high school has turned into a brand. After taking senior pictures for a friend, Amber decided she needed a name. Her mom suggested AtoZ (Amber Zewert), but she opted for Ginger Snaps. In addition to senior portraits, Amber has taken the team softball pictures for the CAL Cadets for two summers, and her photography adorns the walls at CAL CSD, as well.

I wanted to know what challenges to expect. Amber said that, "when taking action shots... you can't just take one photo and think it will be the best photo ever. No, you have to take multiple photos just to get that one good shot you really want." So to me, that means lesson #5 is to hold the button down when taking action shots! Amber mentions that clicking away to get the right shot "makes going through photos after a game tedious and long." Though she doesn't mind it - "it's like watching the game or photo shoot all over again."  Lesson 6 - deal with it; "you will get the one shot you truly want and it will all be worth it in the end."

Finally, I asked Amber what her all-time favorite photo was. She found one in particular that really stood out for her. She tells the story, "I was at an away game supporting my school's football team senior year and I was on the sidelines taking pictures for the yearbook... When I went through [the] images that night I saw one that caught my eye. It was one of my classmates and I don't know what it was but it just really stood out to me because it was just him and the opposing team's crowd blurred in the background and it became one of my favorites." The photo went on to win first place in the conference art show after she edited the photo to a black and white. Amber chose to make it black and white "because I love a good black and white photo and everything seems to look much more clean and crisp. I believe it also allows you to focus on the subject more than anything else." So lesson #7? Editing can make a good picture great! My favorite it, but then I'm not a professional, by any means.

Thanks, Amber! I have a lot to learn, but I can't wait to apply these lessons to my own photography!

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