Sports photography can be very lucrative indeed. It is an extremely competitive environment, especially for the top of the line photo journalists. It is so competitive, in fact, that it is not uncommon for one pro to sabotage another’s work just to get that one to-die-for shot. Most aspiring sports photographers have no idea how to break into this fast paced, highly competitive field.
7 Do not settle for low quality, generic equipment. Your camera must be a solid, highly reputable and dependable piece of equipment. Your lens must be of high quality ground glass. Do not settle for a mass marketed plastic lens. Always be respectful to the officials, coaches and players. Stay out of their way, and definitely stay out of the playing field. Do not abuse the credentials that have been given to you. They can just as easily be taken away. Know the rules of the press. Some events will have a designated press area and you must work within these boundaries. Failure to do so will result in your removal from the game and probably result in the loss of your credentials as well. If you are shooting anything professionally, you have the rights to use the photos editorially only. You do not have the right to make your own photo album and sell it at your own profit. Make sure you understand the licensing rights of the athlete you are shooting. There are certain risks that are inherent in this profession. You must be willing to risk destroying your equipment, injuring yourself or even worse in the event that the action comes your way, and you are not quick enough to move out of the way. Respect the game.
Enroll in basic, intermediate and advanced photography courses at your local community college or career center. Join a photography club in your area. You will need to have contacts and build a network for future use. These people will some day be invaluable to you.
Increase the difficulty of the sport, gradually. Do not attempt to move up too fast, as this might lead to discouragement. Your goal is not to get every shot, but to get one great shot. This may mean shooting several rolls, or over one hundred frames; no one cares how many you took to get that one. They just want that one.
Request an interview with your local suburban paper. Find one that will work with your format, be it digital or film. Digital is probably the best option right now, as film demand is on the down slide. Meet with the photo editor and be prepared to sell yourself and your work. As you become more dependable in getting that money shot every time, your stock rate will increase and you will be able to start demanding higher paying gigs.