You’re so busy getting all those great actions shots don’t forget to get the team and group photos. Don’t forget the team photos that help document the occasion the effort, emotion and success. Team photos can be successful before or after the game or after the awards ceremony. Just as you are with the action shots you will need to be quick and organized. If not you will have whining and complaining athletes as well as parents, and guaranteed the next time you try, few will stay around. So be quick, efficient and people will respond.
When & What to Wear
There are three primary options for when to take the team photo. They can be taken prior to the competition, immediately after or along with the awards ceremony. Depending on the event it might a formal affair or simply a quick team photo to remind everyone who on the team or at the tournament.
The advantages of doing it before the game or event is that everyone is typically in a good enthusiastic mood, no one has lost yet, and their uniforms and hair are perfectly arranged, or as good as it will get. The challenges are they might not all come wearing their uniform as you requested and they might arrive late which holds everyone up. If you are attempting to do this before-hand get the word out in advance if you can, tell them all what to wear and encourage them to be on time. Also, make sure it’s okay with the coach because they often have a very specific plan for warm-up and will want extra time if you’re going to take photos to no disrupt it.
Taking a team photo after the competition or event can be good since all the athletes are present and in the team uniform. Many like the post game photo because it shows them more in their real attire and look, sweat on their faces, dirt on their shoes and uniforms and faces with the emotions of losing or winning. If this is the plan, then make sure to let the athletes know before they start removing jerseys or shoes, catch they won’t want to put them back on. So hustle them together before any of that occurs.
Location & Lighting
The where to take this photo will be dependent on what’s available close by and how many athletes will be in the photo. Can you choose a location that compliments the sport and eliminates distracting backgrounds. Is their a geographical items to capture as part of it. Are there physical items that can play a part such as the goal posts, the stadium, the bleachers. Fortunately some post photo editing may help fix some of the background, but if you can generate a good angle or find a good background you will be better off. It’s a challenge but you must also contend with the light. Ideally allow the sun to light their faces, but invariably it will be too bright and they will close their eyes. If the group is small enough you can use "fill flash" to remove the shadows from faces or another trick is to have everyone open their eyes just in time for the photo.
Take charge and get the athletes organized. You may want to enlist parents or other observers to assist. Make sure all bags, balls, towels or other sports gear that is a distraction in the photo is removed and out of the way. It will often get tossed behind or to the side, but will still be in the way of your photos. Enlist a parent of sibling to run around and pick everything up and put it in a single pile out of the way. Each sport and the number of athlete participants and the location you have chosen will affect the way you organize and pose them. From a doubles tennis team of two through a soccer team of 21 or a football team of 40+ you may have some real challenges.
A good way to get some posing ideas is to look at professional sports magazines or websites. For example, world cup soccer poses are a bit unique with two rows of players the first row squatting on their heals. Each sport may have it’s own way or typical way to shoot team photos. The key factors are to position, balance and spacing. Position the athletes so everyone is visible. That might mean the first row is sitting, the second kneeling and the third standing. But just as with your action shots you need to see everyone’s face. Balance is next, be a bit symmetrical, not all the tall athletes one side, nor allow the standing row to roll off to the left a few more feet than the kneeling row. Spacing means ensure the athletes are tight together, no huge spaces between them either horizontally or depth-wise, what looks like a small space to use will appear much larger and disproportionate in the photo.
Make it fun & fast
Whatever you do make it fast, get them in position, take a couple shots and be done with it. Their athletes and kids and they don’t like posing for photos. They want to have a photo taken don’t get me wrong, but they don’t want to wait around for it, so be quick about it. Make it fun as well, be creative, after the serious shot take a crazy one they always love that. Make sure to include the coach and if you have a MVP or goalie or someone to highlight put them in front with the ball. With soccer teams we always like to lay the goalie down in front with the soccer ball, and they always appreciate it.
Remember to make team and group photos part of your sports photography, and you will have more great photos to share and enjoy!
The Sports Photography Professionals