BASKETBALL PHOTOGRAPHY (11.08.2013)
By Matteo Marchi – www.matteomarchi.it
I use to say that basketball is a sport for intelligent people, because you cannot play such a sport without a smart mind; there are so many things you have to do, on the court. You have to think about running, jumping, shooting.
Basketball photography is pretty much the same. It’s a sport for smart photographers….because what can happen on the other side of the lens can be absolutely unpredictable.
I shoot basketball since 2003. I have a deep passion for this sport, because I play since i was a kid and I coached, so for me being a basketball photographer is like a dream come true. Having the chance to see so many games, to travel the world, to share my experiences with lots of colleagues from around the world just makes me proud.
But (un)fortunately, when I am taking pictures on a court, I have to deal with journalists. You cannot publish whatever you want (the dream of 99% of the photographers, i guess), but you have to fill the needs of the people you work for.
I work a lot for the International federation (FIBA and FIBA Europe especially), to cover the tournaments all around the world, like this Sportland Euro U20 Men, which was taken place in Tallinn, Estonia. The most important things that a photographer has to keep in mind, for an event like this, are:
1. you always need to have a good picture of the best player of the game, because it’s gonna be the headline of the story. Every game has his own story, and the best player could be the one who scored the most points, but can also be the one who scored the final shot which allows his team to win the game. Could be a good celebration picture, could be a pic of a shot, could be an image which can show the drama of the game. This will be the first picture a journalist will ask to you.
2. the best lens to shoot basketball is the 70-200/2.8, which can make you cover the whole court. Howewer, could be also nice to have in your hands the 300/2.8, which can be really good to take some really good closeups, celebrations and action, when the players are on the other end of the court. I personally have used the 400/2.8 at the Olympics court side….but it’s really hard to do good stuff with that. Probably too much.
3. basketball is a sport which can allow you to set remote cameras really closet o the game. My favourite place at all is the spot behind the basket’s glass; you can have awesome action shots from an exclusive place. I recommend to use (apart from the manfrotto stuff etc) the 14-24/2.8; I tried tons of different lenses there…but nothing is like that lens. Absolutely perfect.
Another good place to set a remote camera is the catwalk (if the arena does have one, of course!) which can give you the vertical view of the basket, straight from above. Great pics can sort out from there. The best lens normally is the 70-200/2.8!
4. if you shoot court side (my photography is almost always court side…i don’t like to shoot from far away in the tribunes with big lenses), could be a smart thing to stay in the right part of the baseline. In other words, you should have the basket on your left-hand side. This is because the 90% of the players are right-handed, and if you are in those spots, you have such more chances to get images of open shots!!
Anyway…let’s see if the images i’m showing you are explaining a little better what I tried humbly to write down.
All the photos are made with D4, D800, D3 alongside 14-24/2.8, 70-200/2.8 and 300/2.8, courtesy of NPS Italy and NPS Baltic.