Experiences with Sports Photography

This time of year I find myself in a bit of a change of pace as a photographer. The busy wedding season typically ends in October and resumes again in May. During the interim, I always enjoy finding new ways to challenge myself and learn and grow in my profession. For the past 5 years over the winter and early spring, I have had exciting and rewarding experiences as a sports photographer.  Sports photography offers me an opportunity to think differently, especially about movement, light, and composition. It is also a great way to learn and gain respect for a sport that I would otherwise likely never know much about.

Recently, I have worked with Sportsline Photography photographing mostly girls gymnastics meets and also a cheerleading competition. Gymnastics is something I hardly knew anything about going into it. After one day photographing gymnastics I came out understanding the sport quite a bit better. Gymnastics is beautiful and graceful just like dancing, and I am impressed with the athletes’ amazing strength and flexibility. Sometimes I find myself whispering “Wow” to myself and want to start applauding as I see impressive demonstrations of athleticism. As in any sport, my favorite images are those that capture emotions like determination, frustration, happiness and pride. I am inspired by seeing moments in time that show movement and form you wouldn’t normally notice in such great detail without looking a photograph. I have been able to capture hundreds of photographs like this over the past few months.  I’ve realized how complimentary sports photography is to wedding photography. The skills learned in one will definitely help the other. It is such an privilege that I’m able to incorporate both into my career! This link shows an example of my work with Sportsline Photography. http://www.sportslinephotography.com/2016-MN-Xcel-State-Meet/Friday/Session-3-Platinum-1250PM/Beam-Rotation-1/

My journey photographing sports actually began 5 years ago when CrossCourt Images gave me an unexpected and exciting opportunity. I was fresh out of college and had no experience in the field. The first job I applied for was a sports photography job I found on Craigslist. I didn’t really expect to get the job, but stayed positive and figured at least I’d get some interview experience out of it.  I got the interview and long story short, CrossCourt Images decided to hire me! They trained me on how to photograph volleyball. They allowed me to be part of their crew from the very beginning of this new adventure they were undertaking: to be the official sports photography team for various Junior Olympic volleyball tournaments across the country. I was so excited that I’d have the opportunity to travel AND take photographs! And be paid to do it! What a dream come true!

From January 2011 until April 2015, I ended up traveling with CrossCourt Images to cities such as Minneapolis, Denver, Atlanta and Omaha to photograph these tournaments. Intense 3-day weekends, 12-13 hours per day in noisy and bustling convention centers packed with volleyball courts, coupled with good-humored coworkers and an extremely professional and well-organized company made quite the experience! I was on my feet practically all day, but didn’t even care. I was loving it. I ran on pure adrenaline some days. Adrenaline plus lots and lots of coffee!

It’s a bit difficult to explain in only a few words how CrossCourt Images ran their operation. The company was very well-structured and allowed athletes and parents to reserve a photographer if they desired, view their images on a series of monitors displayed at a booth within the convention center, and place an order if they wished.  CrossCourt Images always impressed me with the way they ran their business and I’ll always have a lot of respect for them. Beginning in 2016, the owner decided to focus on her family and refrain from running these large scale sports photography ventures anytime in the foreseeable future. I’ll miss it so much! But I have many great memories and it was quite the valuable adventure in my career.

The trip to the Presidents’ Day Classic volleyball tournament in Omaha each year was the most memorable.  Omaha is roughly an 8 hour drive from home, so I would make it a road trip and bring my mother along. My mother has a very good friend who lives in Omaha and this was a great opportunity to visit her friend and take a road trip with her daughter at the same time.  Stopping at wineries, having mother-daughter talks, and enjoying some music on the way made this a wonderful trip. We braved some treacherous conditions on a few occasions, plowing through huge drifts of snow with my SUV and freezing in the wind as we stopped for gas. But we’d always make it to Omaha and back safely. While there, we’d stay in a hotel. It was always enjoyable to come home after work, plop down on the hotel bed and tell my mother about my day as we relaxed watching TV, sipped wine and laughed about something. And our tradition the first night of this trip would always be to drink a bunch of wine and color our hair with some cheap boxed hair dye. We somehow ended up with dye all over the hotel room floor once! The unexpected adventures in life tend to be my favorites. 🙂

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