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Sports Photography: Making the Shot

Lesson 3 of 6

Process and Prepping for an Event

Al Bello

Sports Photography: Making the Shot

Al Bello

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Lesson Info

3. Process and Prepping for an Event


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1 What Makes the Shot? Duration:12:22
4 Olympics Coverage Duration:09:01
6 Sportraits Duration:09:46

Lesson Info

Process and Prepping for an Event

you think when you gotta prepare for for a shoot? Um, where you going? What? You shoot for the day? Doesn't matter where it is. Arena. Um I'm gonna do a photo shoot with somebody. Where you going? You got a scout? The area, if you can, you got to get a viable where you're gonna be. Um, you walk in for me, I walk in and I look around and I'm like, immediately I look up and I go, Can I put it remote up somewhere? What? Where is the light source? What time of day it is The sun go over the stadium like that kind of stuff. Goes to my head all the time. A lot of times, um, outside, I'm in all kinds of weather. I could be on a beach. I could be on top of a ski mountain that could be in torrential downpour. I could be in a snowstorm. I could be in sub freezing temperatures on Been in all of them, you know, And I've got you got to protect yourself. Because once your fingers go once you're wet. Once your gear doesn't work anymore, then what's the point of your being there. You've gotta be ready ...

to shoot where you're going to go to get the client happy. To get the shots that you need, you need to have some backup gear you need. Teoh, keep your gear safe now. I just came from the Rio Olympics where a lot of gear went missing, you know, And I'm not going to say, uh, that that everyone in Rio is a bad person. Everybody is a bad person in every country I've ever gone to. Okay, let's just put it that way. There's bad people everywhere, so you gotta just use your common sense. I brought locks with me. I locked up my gear peace of mind. I was able to go do my job and know that my gear, while not 100% safe at least that would make a thief think twice about trying to steal something. Yeah, except in Rio. It's times 10 because it was constantly stuff being stolen. And now I'm just You really became very stressful. But it's something unfortunately you got to think about, you know, it's not just about taking pictures. Set up time, time to travel. Traffic in New York is horrendous. rush hour in Los Angeles is beyond belief. And any time you know, anyway, you go in a big city, you gotta give time to get in the state and to get out of the stadium. You don't want to be late. You want to be in the stadium and just chill out. Set up. Be ready to go set up the computer if you're in a different country. So I need a visa to get there. Don't need shots. What about Zika virus? You know, like things like that you got to think about. So I need malaria Vaccination on my hep a head be covered. You know, in case I eat bad food in another country, You don't want to walk out with hepatitis A or hepatitis B. You know, you want to just be knowing that. All right, I got myself covered in preparing for this. Suggested that I take a look at my trunk and see what I have in my trunk. Now, if you ask my wife, she'll think I'm an axe murder. But, uh, these are just some things that I keep in my trunk, and I'm gonna go through him with you, okay? over here is my wet weather gear, right? In case it rains, some extra model pardes appear. I have ah, extension cord. I have some wet weather bags to my lenses. I've got a stool in case I've got a shoot in a spot where there's no seat. Um, this is to work my computer outside. It's a little lens shade that I keep. This is a puppy seat. Now, if, um, on a hard surface for a long time, like a tennis where I sit for hours on end. Sometimes thing is a basketball seat. When you saw on the arena floor, there's no seat, so it hurts your back. So you want to be able to just lean back? I've got a baseball bat in case I need it. I've got a shovel in case I'm stuck in the snow. You know, uh, I've got knee pads because I got bad knees. Okay, My knees hurt all the time, so I wear Kneepads when I'm shooting football. I need a step stool because I'm not the tallest guy in the world. So if I'm if I'm sure it at a press conference, I'll bring a little steps through with me and I stand on it gives me an extra five inches. $5 at target. $10 a target. You know, these little things That'll that'll help you out in a bad situation when you go Crap. I forgot my mind apart again. Oh, I have an extra one in the car. Yeah. Um oh, man. I mean, it was gonna rain like this. The weather didn't say that. I got my gear in the car. I'll just go get it. OK, so these are just things that you should just carry with you. Um, because things happen. And I've used every one of those pieces at some point at some time during the year. And sometimes there's just sit in my trunk. All right? So just be ready. What do I use? Most of the time I walk around with a long lens. Uh, probably like a 400 millimeter lens I've got now a wear a shoulder harness that will hold two lenses, a 72 100 a wide angle lens, which is probably like a 16 to 35. I kind of looked like this all the time, minus the wide angle lens, But that's that's during the week, the time during a football game. That's kind of what what we look like. I'm on my knees with many pads, my middle lens on my long lands on my yt eyes. Not with me there. I don't know where it is, but I couldn't find a better picture. So that's kind of what I look like. Um, yeah, you know, that's what I carry around. That's my gear. I'll My name is Inca. Uhm uhm, maybe we'll cover this later on, but your images are property off Getty images. That's what it said in the beginning. Do you get? Do you have to get releases from sports people shooting? I'll tell you about that. If you're shooting editorially, you don't need, you don't need permission if you're getting a printed editorially now, commercially, yes, you need a licensing. Gotta pay a licensing fee. Sometimes if you doing personal shoots with the athletes is they work out some kind of deal. The licensing. We pay a licensing fee to different leaks. Major League Baseball N B. A NHL, the IOC for the Olympics, World Cup soccer, FIFA FINA Way do all kinds of stuff with them. And when you pay a fee, that means they're granting you the ability to license the photos, too. Advertising companies, then you can sell it for advertising. Now, if if you're a a non licensee person and you just go in and photographed the game and you try to sell to an advertiser, that's, uh, that's not gonna work. That would cause problems. And so, uh, anything? Editorial is fine. Anything with commercial use is got to be approved by the governing body. Help that helps you a little bit. Yeah. How much have you learned about sports Through anticipating the shot? Well, when I'm trying to anticipate a photo, it depends on the situation. You know, you really should know the sport. You're photographing you. It would help to know the athletes that you're photographing and what kind of plays they run and what kind of teams coming through. Or if it's an individual athlete, it plays a big part. Actually, I've I've placed myself in position for so many photos that actually worked rather than just winking and go, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just gonna plop myself here. I am constantly thinking on the field constantly. Whether it's a baseball game that takes five hours or a soccer game that's done in two hours, I'm just constantly thinking of where I think something's gonna happen. What kind of player is doing what you know? You mentioned it early on about the boxer. You said You notice he had kept his chin down in a position where he was vulnerable so that that's where the Kennedy question came. Yeah, going back to the boxer, it's called when fighters they set down in their punches and they again they just like fighting in a phone booth. They call the phone booth warfare. You know, they'll put their heads on each other's shoulders and just fight. When you put your head on the shoulder, you're susceptible to uppercuts. So I knew at some 0.1 of these guys going to get caught, and I was just waiting for the for the moment happened. Yeah, definitely. Catch it. Thank you. Yeah, no problem. We're gonna get to the segment of pictures that I took and then me setting up the photo going back to your question. Do I anticipate? Yes. Here we go. So this is kind of on up angle picture on two boxes fighting with a wide angle lens. Sometimes you gotta cheat a little bit when you're shooting boxing, and the rule is you gotta have to kind of stay underneath the first rope and stay back. But every now and then you could slide the camera and a little bit. And if you know what you're doing and if you're fast enough, you just get the shot and get out, you know, because you're really not. It's kind of like you want to push the boundaries a little bit without getting yourself thrown out of the arena. But again, risk, reward, risk, reward. Sometimes you got to do that, a shot like that where it's like right in front of you happened like that. So you're right there, and that's how close you are. That little rope separates you from reality. What's going on? Um, maybe like two feet away from me, they said in 1/2 in half out photo of underwater and above water with a remote. You know you want to line up the shot, set it up and that's me, said, setting up the photo. And what I did was I'm gonna go to the right side of the frame here, you could see right here is a little clamp. So once I set it up, I'll clamp it up over here and there's a cord that goes out of the frame to a trigger that's in my hand. And so when the divers go in the water, you know, you get that. That's what I was gunning for. So again, with a picture like this, I'm going to the left side of the frame is a lot of finagle in with television, but you could look here, and that is like my radio. And then there's my camera set up, and I noticed I like the ceiling and I set up that shot. A television agreed to let me do it after much haggling, and but then, after one round, they didn't like the noise that was the camera going off in their microphone, so they made me shut it after one round of diving. But at least I got that and there's another one same diving event, but I wanted to do the idea with a lot of underwater photography is what goes on beneath the water. You know, and I'm trying to separate the realities of the two worlds out of the water and under the water. So again, it took me some doing. And I waited, too, like the last day of the tournament to do this because I really didn't want anybody trying to copy me. So I I waited and just set it up. And again, I'm going to the left side of the frame here. And so I clamped the camera to the exit bar as they come out of the water and ran the cord outside the pool to my position, which waas way over here. So I stood over there and was able to actually fire that shot to get this shot. And at the same time, I had that camera set up for that. So I was doing to separate shots with one trigger. Okay, again, this is the bottom of ski lip at the ski jump of the Olympics lights Perfect gold medal skier. He won the gold medal. Olympic rings seen settle. Right. How do I get that shot like that? You get there early and you line yourself up in the middle and you could see I'm with a bunch of the photographers to my left into my right. But nobody's in the middle because I got there the earliest that were there three hours at a time. So I stood there in the snow for three hours and just knew if I'm in the middle of the rings, it's gonna line up. Perfect eventually took me all day, but again, when you do in a ski jump picture, you can't see them going over you. So you just lying there and you just kind of waiting and you just hear. And then when you hear that sound, that's when you click the camera and a lot of frames the skis cut off and shooting blanks sky. It's just not happening for you. Just gotta time it right. But again, some people do with remote cameras here, or they could do it. Hand held now, what happened in So she fast boat this? This was in Vancouver fastball with soc, and they didn't let anybody underneath the lip. They changed the rules, so that's life. But what you do is you try and compensate. So now I'm over there in the corner and there's my remote and Now I'm trying to get that kind of picture with the remote camera. Um, ski racing photography, one of the most difficult things you'll ever do. Why? Because you have to carry 50 £60 of gear on your back. You've got to ski to a position on the same mountain that the gold medal skiers are skiing on the downhill race Course. Now I can ski, but I'm no Olympic downhill ski races, so I do the best they can. But what you gotta do is get yourself over there on steep hills and get yourself in position to shoot, to shoot a decent background. So let's say the flag is I'm going to my right here, way over here. Once you're in that position, you've got to be there, at least in our ahead of time, because the ski patrol people come by and they go to you. That's safe. That's not safe. You need to move. And if they say to you, you need to move and you have five minutes to find another position or you're off the mountain, so you really have to scout your location ahead of time again. It goes back to what I was saying before you got to get on the mountain early in the morning. Get down and up, down and up. Find a spot you want and hope we ski. People come and they go. Yeah, that's good. That's bad. But again, it's a matter of skiing your position carrying a lot of bags. Sorry. One bag, a lot of weight. Willy cameras in their Unpack your bag, set it up, and then take the picture. This is a picture I showed you earlier with long shadows. But that's how I got the picture. So I went into the starting gate the morning of the race and I set the camera up middle of frame. Here's the camera focus. Set it up on a magic arm and then walk away until the race starts, and then shoot it From where I told you I waas, which was over here by the starting gate. I mean, by the start finish line. Okay, this is the same start, same start. But now I set it up from on top of the roof at the Belmont. So now I am here right side of the frame, and then I would go down here to shoot. That's the start. Finish line. And then the starting gate was brought over here. So I'm doing two different pictures with my hand health. So I'm able to get, you know, one look in a totally different look. That makes sense. Okay. This year at the US Open, which just finished about a week or so ago, we had they have a new roof and it's a retractable roof. So we have a whole new vantage point and they let us go up to remote cameras up. Well, um, this picture with on a windy night with the American flag blown by, you know, the flag would hang. And then every now and then, when the wind would pick up, it would drift in the wind. So it was just before one of the finals, and it was during the finals. The 1st 10 minutes. Decent sky Sunset is able to get this picture another day was crystal clear, sunny out shot a doubles match, but again, trying to get that nice balance. So is just waiting and waiting for them to all be in their little box. And then one guys making the play for the action. Nice, clean, graphically correct. But that's me setting up the remote cameras up in the ceiling at the Authoress Stadium, and you notice I'm not the only one. You know. There is other other people here setting up stuff. But these things are called pocket wizards, and what they do, is they all that's the radio transmitters and they transmit the images down to your camera or they re state get the receiving end. So I will transmit from what I'm taken and then it receiver. Why is the camera from up there that makes sense again and overhead? Basketball remote? By no means is this the greatest picture on the planet Earth. But, you know, it's a decent moment, different angle and again requires you to set up way early. Make sure your cameras secure. I don't know if you could see from here, but there's a lot of safety straps that are hooked up to the camera I've got. I've got a double clamped because it is heavy and it falls. We got a problem. Big problem, you know. Not only can I seriously hurt somebody, I probably would never be able to put up another remote in that arena again. You've got to be responsible when you're doing this stuff. Whether it's a baseball game at your son's Little League game, which have done, I've safely strapped it up on the kids back, stop and shot my son playing baseball. Take it just to Syriza's. If I'm here at the basketball arena now, this is again trying to get the most at a one uh, sport. Men's long jump, right? This is called the Pan Blur on what this is is when you you shoot a slow shutter speed and you're trying to get the action of the the athlete and you're portraying speed as they go Shoot it like 1/30 of a 2nd 15th of a second is very hard to get sharp. What you're trying to do is get the I shop is what you need, And while I'm doing that, I've also got to remote set up on the ground. Same same guy, same moment, but now a totally different angle because I got a remote down by the long jump on a wide angle lens, same moment, but from the other side now shooting into the Sun Sea and I have three pictures in one instead of one. So I'm going for that, which is a little bit of a risk, because it might not be. It might not be sharp. I might have missed it, But if I miss it, I've got backups. I've got that one. And I got that one. And I'm always thinking, How can I make the most out of what I got in front of me? Gang Boxing match knockout. Big fight handheld. Right. But two days before I was up in this in the ceiling scat me area, and I thought, Oh, this is a nice spot. What is a knockout? And the guy falls right down in the middle of the ring. That's the same moment as this photo fired, Handheld. Now I'm over here in the top left corner here. OK, I've got the little remote firing with my shutter, so I'm able to get this where I put the camera two days ahead, head of head of the fight and also here. So I had one right over the ring. I have one to the side of the ring. And then I had my hand health. So again, three pictures in one lot effort. A lot to do, but Indiana was worth it. Yes. Before we move on, we have some great questions that are coming in about the remote cameras. Has it's phenomenal to see what you do get and how you stand out within those. So, first of all from Christie, can you set up remote cameras anywhere in an arena or any location? Is it first come for serve? Do you have to get special permission? Does it depend? Walk us through that process. Take each question in different parts. Yes. You can set up remote cameras for the most part. Yes. You probably need to get permission in some arenas. Um, uh uh. What was the third part? Eyes that first come, first served. Yeah, that's another thing. Sometimes first comes, first served. There's some places where the there is a pecking order and, you know, certain agencies get 1st 1st dibs on where you want to put a remote. But for the most part, I mean, if it's just an everyday event, I don't think you really need to get too much Permission. Never hurts to ask. Sometimes I'm afraid to ask, cause I know they're gonna say no. And then I sometimes we'll put the remote up and go on playing stupid. Oh, I didn't know. You know, sometimes you could do that. Sometimes you get away with it. Sometimes you pay some consequences have been on the end of both. So I would tend more to ask. Um, it hopes that they would understand what I'm trying to do. And a lot of the times I come with an example. These days, you could just put on your phone and go. I'm trying to do this picture. I know what times did not go away. That's pretty cool. You could do that here. Yeah, I think I can if you let me put the camera up, you know, you try it, you know? So, um, the answer is yes to most questions. And one more on that with So you were using remote triggers. Flash. How do you work out with other photographers in terms of what channels you're shooting on? Does that cause problems? It's not that bad because there's many channels that that you can dial into, and what I happen to have is a custom channel that was made for me. so nobody else has that channel. I never contribute anybody else, which is good because I boys hassle for me. What happens at big events is there'll be a big sheet up on the pressure and say everybody puts their channel of what they want to work on. So 35 days, a channel you wanted to go like, Hey, I was on 35 All right. I'll go to 36 a or whatever it is, you know, and then that's how you'll work it out. It's not foolproof. Some people trip your other trip, your cameras, this happen to me before I have my custom channel made. But, um, it's one way of doing it. All right again. Um, sometimes you got to be willing to go where no one else wants to go. I told you before, it's best to set yourself apart from everyone else. This is a little extreme. I climb the light post because I just didn't want to be bothered with anybody, and I had be. I got the okay to go do that because I wanted to work on some shadow pictures at a field hockey game. But this portal will wear you out. Thats not the sport. This business of sports photography will work. Where you out? It works on all your joints. It works on your back. Showbiz Younis your ankles on dumb. It's a very physically demanding business. So while I don't want to say you've got to look like you know Mr Universe, you do have to maintain some kind of physical regimen, some kind of activity exercise. I recommend that to try and keep up with things Business of sports photography, because over time you're going to get injured just like an athlete. It's It's a much lower scale of, but you are kind of being like it almost like an athlete. Whereas you gotta constantly train Teoh. Keep up whether it's on a ski mountain, whether you're going underwater at a, um, swimming event, Uh, what he running up and down a football field with tons of gear on your back? It's physically demanding, So I just wanted to touch on that because not many people don't expect how tiring it really is.

Class Description

It’s unpredictable and happens in a fleeting moment; the game winning point, the facial expression of success, the underdog coming from behind moment. Capturing athletes in their sport not only takes a quick shutter, but also the right prep and creativity to stand out. Al Bello is an award-winning photographer and the Chief Sports Photographer in North America for Getty Images. He has covered 11 Olympic games and has photographed numerous well-known athletes. 

In this course you’ll learn:

  • What to look for in order to get a successful and creative action shot 
  • How to prepare for a variety of sporting events 
  •  The behind the scenes in capturing unique and timeless images including an in depth look into underwater sports
Learn how to prep and capture sporting events and stand out in a field of photographers.  


Britt Smith

Sports Photography: Making the Shot is a very good class for showing what really goes into big league sports photography as well as a glimpse into the sacrifice and outside-the-box thinking needed to standout from the crowd. Al Bello's images are stunning and his years of experience and unique creative style are clear in each one. This is not necessarily a course where you are going to learn camera settings or recommended lens suggestions for certain sports, but what it lacks in that area, it certainly makes up for through inspiring images and Al Bello's humble presentation style.

Agnieszka Wanat

Al Bello did a there good job with this course. He gives a lot of informations of the gear and setup on different locations. He makes you inspire to look for better shots than other does. This course helped me to work on location with other 20 photographers. And I can be proud to take a totally different shots then others of horses that we photographed in 3 days job in Poland. I really recommend it!