Probably one of the most-asked questions in the photography world is: How the heck did he/she get that shot? There are as many answers as there are photographers, but there is one consistent element. Very few wonderful photographs are one-time deals.
By that I mean that the photographer has worked hard to understand his subject and has revisited it time and time again. The best travel photographers visit favorite sites over the years. Their most outstanding images represent a knowledge of the place, an understanding of the light at different hours of the day and different times of the year, a clear expectation of what they may encounter at a given photo shoot, and the technical capability to realize it. All that, and of course, a constant preparedness to capture the serendipitous moment that may result in an extraordinary capture.
This knowledge of subject is even more important when it comes to sports or activity photography. These days, it's easy to buy a fabulous camera and amazing lens. So lots of people, theoretically, have the technical capability to capture wonderful action shots. But that is only part of the story. The real skill is not in following the action, but in anticipating it. That requires a profound understanding, not just of a sport, but of its players, their style, the momentum of the game, and the best way to tell the story. Does this shot need to be crisp or will a slow shutter speed show movement in a way that adds excitement?
Ergo, the title of this blog. Practice is essential. There are three elements to great action shots, and each of them takes time.
Love? I add that, because I think there is no way to dedicate oneself to success in action photography without being a true fan of the action. And there's nothing better than an ability to meld one's deepest interests with photography. In my own case, that means I am working on mastering the photography of golf, and of various forms of dog competition. I love 'em both, I understand them to some degree, and I am eager to tell the story.
Clearly, there is far more to photography than meets the eye. And that is exactly what makes it so gosh-darned compelling.