Want to improve your sports photography? Make it happen with these 5 tips.

Even when covering sports, journalists are asked to wear multiple hats.

Game assignments that historically were given to a reporter and a photographer now often are assigned to one person. Not only do you have to cover the game, you’re also on the hook for art.

A strong image can help tell your story, attract readers, and help you build more audience.

Here are a five tips to improve your sports photography.

1. Show up early, stay late.

Make sure you have a plan in place to avoid any parking or traffic issues that might arise. Getting to the venue early also allows you to test your camera settings and figure out the spots that may be best for shooting.

The clock may display zero at the end of an event, but that doesn’t mean your opportunities as a photographer are over.

Post-game interactions between opposing teams often makes for a great photo opportunity.

2. Do your homework.

Is there a milestone that a player or coach is looking to reach during the game? Are there any special pre-game or halftime events scheduled?

Do your homework so you’re prepared and in a perfect place to capture moments, rather than putting yourself in the position to scramble and react.

Have a good contact person from both teams and try to get a rundown of what to expect for every game you cover.

3. Reaction over action.

Often the reaction photo tells a better story than the action shot.

During the final seconds of a close game, keep an eye on the bench players and fans.

An ecstatic scream for joy or the tears from defeat tell a stronger story than a ball being thrown.

4. Use multiple lenses.

A 70mm to 200mm lens is a great walk-around lens for capturing action shots, but you also should have a wide-angle lens handy.

A 16mm to 35mm lens is perfect for capturing the entire atmosphere of a stadium or arena.

For football and soccer, you’ll want to invest in a 300mm or 400mm lens or find a place that will rent you one.

5. Get to know the sports you’re covering.

Know the rules of the sports you’re photographing. That way, you can plan and anticipate instead of reacting.

You don’t want to be put in a position where you’re unsure of what’s happening. Even intermediate knowledge of the sport will help you capture the shots that help tell a story.

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Anthony Vence is a Senior Customer Content Specialist at PR Newswire. He contributes to @PRNmedia and previously worked in the newspaper industry as a news and sports editor. He also works as a freelance photographer.

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