The Maryland Youth Football state championship game for 10U
I don't presume to be a sports photographer. And, I don't have plans to become one. But, I chose this picture as an example of my artistic vision when I do photograph sports. My son, Joshua, is #90 on the red team. He is in the middle and has the blue sleeves. So, I took my good camera (Sony A550) and my long lens (70-300mm Sony G) and went to the game. I found myself spending more time and attention framing shots than I did actually paying attention to, and enjoying, the game. It was actually a rather exciting game.
But, for me, the work began the next day when I loaded all the shots into the computer to discover what I had captured. Unlike a skilled sports photographer, I took many wide shots in the hope of capturing something interesting in the frame. And, I saw that I had a lot to work with. For each of the shots in the slideshow below, much of the work for me was in cropping the image to focus on a particular aspect of the game. In the first shot above, I did not like that the referee in the top right corner is cut off. I would have preferred the cut him out all together, to focus only on the players. But, the boy just below that referee adds visual interest and also proportional balance to the image, so I cropped the referee to reveal just his hands, which I thought looked good. Cropping at that horizontal line also emphasizes the 40-yard-line at the top edge of the shot. With Photoshop, I could have cloned out such an unwanted element. But, personally, I don't care for Photoshop. It's far too complicated for what I need. I've got nothing against heavy alterations, though. I just do so with Adobe Lightroom, which isn't as good at removing objects like a person. But, overall, I use the cropping to tell a story with the photo, which is different from most sports photography, which usually has a documentary purpose.
After I cropped the image to reveal a story, I made artistic decisions about how to enhance each photo. For this slideshow, I intentionally created a variety of enhancements, because these photos will be shared with family and friends who have an interest in the game. I've got my plans to sell these as fine art photography. However, there are a few in the set that have potential. For this picture above, I just printed it on metallic photo paper at 8.5 x 11 and it looks great. I could easily print it larger, at 16 x 20, and any parent with a son in that group would enjoy having a copy to frame and display. Some of the shots in this set are intended as nothing more than documenting parts of the game, such as the opening coin toss and the team group photo at the end of the game. But, even when documenting a sporting event, I make an effort to create a work of art. One example is the vertical shot of the 4th-down play. Yes, they were successful on the conversion. But, for artistic reasons, I like how the 10-yard-line divides the frame vertically and the down marker fills the bottom-third, the referee fills the middle-third, and the players fill the top-third, thus following the rule-of-thirds. I enhanced the contrast on some shots and played with the color saturation on others. I game some a soft look and others got extra sharpening, depending on the mood of the image. I hope that, as a group, you find them to be artistically interesting and pleasant to look at, even if your son wasn't playing in the game.
Joshua's team, the Bel Air Terps, lost to the Huntingtown Canes with a final score of 14-13. I particularly like the shot of the scoreboard showing the final score and the girl in the white jacket leaning over the railing. I don't know which team she was supporting, but that ambiguity is part of the story of that shot. The photo shows a close score and the people at the railing could be either happy or disappointed. It works either way.