Like many parents, you’ve probably spent many hours either freezing or boiling on the sidelines watching your kid play sport. At some point during the season, you’re gonna want to get a picture of the entire team together. If you’re on social media, you’ll probably notice a huge difference in team photos- some that are really great, and some that are well, hardly worth the effort. Today’s post is about how to get a great team picture.
With everything, if you want to do it well, you’re going to need to do a little bit of planning. And having decent gear doesn’t hurt either. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a great photo from an iPhone, but having a “proper” camera gives you a better chance of success. In today’s blog post, I’m going to be talking about getting a great netball team picture, but the same advice applies to any other sport.
PREPARING FOR A GREAT TEAM PICTURE
To get a great team picture, you need to do a little preparation. I’ve been photographing my kid’s netball games for 3 years now, and I’m still learning.
The first step is to get the parents on board. Because they are the ones that drive the kids to the games. Whilst not always possible, you’ll want to try to pick a week where all the kids are going to be there (and this can be difficult), and try to get the kids there at least 15 minutes earlier than usual. Let’s face it, most weeks, there’s always a couple of kids who show up late, and that makes a team picture really difficult.
THE GAME PLAN
I like to get the kids posing on the court, rather than in some corner, where there is no connection with the game they’re playing. As our daughter’s games were the first each morning, there were fewer distractions in the background (like other players), which was great. But the downside was that, because the courts are surrounded by tall trees, at 8am, there was a lot of shadow and dappled light (I hate faces with dappled light, BTW).
Each season, I like to get a really great team picture, so I do need to bring the necessary gear. If you’ve got the equipment, I truly believe that the best things that will separate your team picture from others is lighting and a tripod. A team picture using natural light only is difficult, especially in the conditions that I’ve already described. And a tripod helps you take your hands off your camera, and allows you to also look at the kids face-to-face.
Here is the list of equipment I used for this year’s team picture:
- Sony A7Rii
- Canon 28-105/4 L lens (adapted to fit my Sony with Metabones)
- Profoto B2 off-camera flash with a 2′ Octobox
As I said previously, lighting is critical in a shot like this. There were some other photographers at various times doing team portraits, and very few (if any) of them used some sort of flash. I wonder how they dealt with the dappled light, or the green reflective surface of the court.
THE ACTUAL SHOT
We actually had a situation this year where we did leave things a little bit late. We only thought about doing the team picture with 2 games left, and there was going to be a different player missing from each of those games. What to do? The only thing to do, was to try and get a decent picture the first week, and then I was going to take a second photograph the second week, and then put them together in post-production.
Here is the first image:
I purposely left a space in the front row so the other girl could fit in (in hindsight, I should have actually left an even bigger space). This image is un-retouched.
At the final game of the season, I re-photographed the team, but also placed the missing girl in the front, using Photoshop. And you can see the final result at the top of this post.
I removed the distractions from the background (including the guy standing on the bin, and the light pole sticking out of the coach’s head), and gave the other coach (the one on the right) her hand back. And this is an important tip: try to make sure of these details when you take the photograph- I was too busy with other things (obviously) and didn’t notice that she had pulled her hand inside of her sleeve. There was also a few other swaps between different images to achieve the final result.
The parents were really happy with the image, and so was I.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I’m going to blog about different things, and if you can get something out of my posts, then I’m truly happy.
Enjoy your weekend, and remember, find what you love, and do it as much as you possibly can. Happy picture-taking!