Sports & Action

Action photography tips

Written by Gail Bjork

Photographing fast moving subjects with a digital camera is challenging. Here’s how to catch the action.

Capturing good photos of sports and other action scenes can difficult using a compact digital camera. Improve your shots using the basic tips and techniques offered in this section.

Plan ahead

SoccerBefore the actual event begins, take test shots and practice, practice, practice. Action photography by its very definition involves a lot of movement, often unpredictable. Become familiar with various camera settings and techniques needed to capture a subject.

When photographing people, remember to capture emotion as well as motion.

Find the best spot

Arrive early at the event so you have an unobstructed view. Get close enough so the action you wish to photography will fill the frame. Get down on the side lines if you’re permitted so you can move with the action.


Balance beamYour camera may not be fast enough to focus on a fast moving subject. Overcome this by prefocusing on something else of equal distance where the subject will come into view.

Depress the shutter-release button half-way to lock focus and exposure. While holding it down, recompose but don’t fully depress the button until the subject appears. You may have to pan a bit to follow the subject.

If your digital camera has a “quick release” setting or “high speed” mode, use it. Check the manual for other camera-specific prefocusing options, such as Manual focus and Focus Lock settings.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.