Photographing varsity sports is a privilege. Establish a coverage hierarchy system by requiring photographers to first learn and train at subvarsity sporting events.
Implementing this strategy has a twofold benefit. First, photographers gain practical knowledge of how to cover sports in a less stressful and slower-paced environment. This will ultimately improve their skills when they move up to varsity-level events. Second, photographing freshman and junior varsity sports provides more yearbook photos. Often schools struggle for adequate coverage of subvarsity teams; requiring photographers to attend these games solves that problem.
Varsity football tends to be the most coveted sport to shoot. But photographers should have to earn a spot on the sidelines. Have staffers train with the adviser, the photo editor or a veteran photographer at a subvarsity game. The trainer can walk the rookie photog through camera settings, best places to stand and what to look for during a game. This training can be indispensable for improving publication photography.
The training hierarchy system is also a smart strategy for other sports: volleyball, basketball, softball, baseball, etc. Seasoned photographers can cover the initial varsity games while the rookies are learning the ropes. Some staffs take the system a step further by mandating all staffers cover a set number of sporting events and/or requiring subvarsity coverage during the days before the varsity event.
If you don’t have someone to lead the training, we still recommend having photographers begin sports coverage at the subvarsity level. The action is slower and they’ll gain valuable insight. Consider also asking a local photographer or a graduated staffer to give sideline advice. We also suggest requesting your Balfour rep order a Shooting Sports poster if you need guidance for camera settings, best lenses and where to stand.
The Shooting Sports poster #024565 features tips, preferred lenses and location suggestions for fall, winter and spring sports. It also includes a cheat sheet for different lighting situations.
Taking pictures is one of the highlights of being on the yearbook staff. Being on the sidelines or courtside is having a front row seat to history. That awesome opportunity comes with responsibility. Let photographers earn that privilege by having them first cover subvarsity sports.