Covering Professional v High School Sports

I have a lot of up and coming photographers ask me how to get access to professional sporting events. The first thing out of my mouth is: “You’ll get better images shooting little league, high school, and local college games than you will at a sideline-crowded, pro level game.”

Yet, they seem to ignore this statement, as they continue to ask about covering their favorite pro teams.

Photo editors would much rather look at a portfolio of stellar high school sports images, than a bunch of “average”, stock-looking images from a professional football game. Just because you have a photo of the President of the United States, or the star quarterback of a pro football team, doesn’t mean it deserves to be in your portfolio. I know this because I was guilty of this in high school and when I first started college – but I quickly learned this was not the way to go about putting a portfolio together.

Maybe the light at the high school stadium isn’t the greatest but the moments you can come across, don’t often appear in it’s professional form.

Why am I telling you this? Well last night was a testament to this when I was covering a local high school girls soccer game. Another example was of a high school football game I covered a couple weeks back. These jubilation moments only happen during the playoffs or at a Super Bowl on the professional level. But at a high school where kids aren’t playing for a paycheck, this is the kind of genuine emotion you can achieve in your images:

 

Hayley Skovira #23 of Southmoreland High School is embraced by teammate Jessica Skovira #21 after she scored a goal in the first half against Mt Pleasant High School at Southmoreland High School in Alverton on October 7, 2010. Jared Wickerham Tribune Review

 

 

Jabrill Peppers #18 and the rest of the Don Bosco football team celebrate after their win against St Ignatius during the game at Harding Stadium in Steubenville, OH on September 25, 2010. Jared Wickerham