Beginner’s Guide to Football Photography


We’ve all seen the press sitting behind the goal at Premier league, Champions league and international  games with their big white lenses and top of the range cameras but do you really need that level of equipment to take good quality images of your team down at the local playing fields?

Unless you’re competing with other photographers to get on the back page of the daily tabloids then the answer is NO! This article will provide you with a few basic tips that will help you capture some images you’re proud of – that do your team justice and help promote your team.

Whether it’s to use on facebook, team websites, and whether you’re looking to capture action, team or individual shots, then enjoy!




The Basics!

1.  Get Down Low!

The single biggest difference you can make to your football images is to get down low.  Don’t stand, sit on a small stool, or even on the grass.  This gives much more impact to your images by helping the players fill the frame and putting the viewer of the images at the same level as the players – putting them in the thick of the action.  This is something that anyone taking football photographs can do, whatever camera they are using.  This will make your images stand out from the normal images you’ll see.


2.  Use a fast shutter speed 

Which camera you’re using will determine how much control you have over your camera’s shutter speed.  If your camera’s shutter speed is too low, you’ll have blurred images.  To correctly expose your images, your camera takes into account a number of factors, the main one is how much light there is – light is your friend. The more light there is, the less time the shutter needs to be open in order to capture enough light to correctly expose your image.  If the shutter has to be open a long time to capture enough light, the greater motion blur you’ll get in your image.

Most cameras now have a sport mode – try starting with this.  This will tell the camera to adjust all its settings in order to get the fastest shutter speed possible.  The camera will increase the sensor’s sensitivity to light (known as ISO) and open up the camera’s aperture in order to let as much light in as possible.  There are trade off’s with these – a high ISO image will appear more grainy (known as Noise) and a wide open aperture will restrict the area of the image that is in focus (known as Depth of Field).  With SLR cameras you have more control on how the camera adjusts its settings to get the fastest shutter speed, allowing you to balance the Shutter Speed,  Noise and Depth of Field  to achieve the effect you want.


3.  Pick your location wisely

Before you even take your first photo, you’ll need to decide where to locate yourself.  The biggest mistake you can make here is to move around, trying to chase the game.  Pick a spot and stick with it, otherwise you’ll spend more time moving around than taking photos – it’ll also be more tiring that you would have thought!

The first consideration is the sun – you should be looking to shoot with the sun behind you or, at least, not facing directly into it.  Also, try to get clean backgrounds – images will look much better with hedges and trees in the background rather than different coloured cars in the car park!

There are three locations you should consider; 1) the half way line, 2) on the touch line level with the 18 yard box (avoid the side with the referee’s assistant running in front of you!), and 3) on the goal line – about 10 yards in from the corner flag.  I find a get a higher number of good shots at position 1) or 2) but the best shots from position 3).


4.  Anticipate the action

If you see the action you want to capture through your camera, you’ve probably missed the opportunity to capture it!

Even on ‘top of the range’ cameras there’s a gap between the time when you press the shutter button and when the image is captured (shutter lag) but the further down you go in the range, the longer this gap will be.

When you’re capturing an image of someone running towards you with the ball this isn’t so much of an issue but when you want to get that image of the ball compression as someone heads or kicks the ball then you’re going to need to get to know your camera’s shutter lag and anticipate the action early enough.

One way I do this is to look at the body language of the players through the viewfinder to judge when they are about to head or kick the ball.  It’s going to take a lot of practice and a little bit of luck but persevere to get that shot.

Some cameras also have a burst mode, this can help a little, capturing several shots as you press the shutter release or keep your finger on it – some of the top range cameras will capture over 10 images per second like this but you’d be surprised at how you can still miss that vital moment!


Continue reading

1st Season at Redbridge FC (2011/12)

Katie Thwaites(physio), Danny Hopkins, James Robinson, Ryan Oliva, Nathan Gordon, Joe Gardner, Edward Wooten, Lewis Dark, Adam Rafis(left club), Jonathan Wheatstone(left club), Ryan Murray, Glen Golby, Stuart Hepburn, Shane Stamp(left club), Aarun Best, Vincent Durrant, Mitchell Das, Larry Woods, Tony Smith, Tommy Spillane, Jamie Haywood, Darran George, Terry Spillane, Jody Brown, Ben Bradbury(left club), William Sendall, Dan Trenkel(left club)

 September 2011 marked the start of my time as the official photographer of Redbridge FC.  It was a great time to join the club as they were just embarking on what was going to be the greatest FA Cup run of their history.  It was an exciting time for me, the first time as an official photographer, pitch side at games with more than just one man and his dog, which I was used to spending Saturday afternoons in local parks, developing my sport photography skills.

In this post I look back on what was an amazing season and select my favourite 10 images that I feel summarise my first season at Redbridge FC. In reverse order :-

10.  The Passion of Non-League Football!

The passion of non-league football was clear to me during Redbridge’s FA Cup tie against Dunstable Town.  This was the only time I have seen the ‘Press Box‘ used at Oakside and this guy is sure passionate! The screams into his dictaphone as Redbridge took the lead, still haunt me to day.  Who he is and where he’s from I have no idea but he certainly got most of the crowd’s attention.  I’m guessing that Stuart Hall and Jonathan Pearce must be his inspiration!

 (Photographer: David Horn)   9.  Nowhere to Hide When the Camera’s About!It’s always nice to capture the moment that not everyone sees.  The local derby between Redbridge and Romford in December 2011 provided one of those opportunities, which I managed to get as the Romford keeper stamps on Redbridge’s Mitchell Das in his attempt to get to Redbridge’s players.

Redbridge FC v Romford Ryman Football League Division One North 31 Dec 2011 (David Horn/Dave Horn, EAP)

Romford keeper, Lamar Johnson stamps on Redbridge’s Mitchell Das as tempers run high

8.  FA Cup Visits Oakside  Redbridge FC’s cup run was starting to get some attention, fuelled by the fact that Tony Adams’ nephew was in goal and Jimmy Greeves’ grandson often headed the front line.  This resulted in a visit of the actual FA Cup visiting Oakside, accompanied by a photographer from the Sun newspaper – my first contact with a ‘real’ photographer that I’ve met at subsequent games and also on the tube as he headed home from a Premier League night game!

Left; James Robinson (Jimmy Greaves’ Grandson). Centre; Terry Spillane (Redbridge Manager). Right; Adam Rafis (Tony Adams’ nephew)

7.  The ‘Rooney’ Shot There was an image of Man Utd’s Wayne Rooney scoring with an overhead kick against Manchester City taken by Mark Pain (crowned sports photographer of the year at British Press Awards for a sensational Tiger Woods picture) in February 2011that  received a lot of praise in the sports photography world.  This was the closest I got to it this season, with Mitchell Das going close with an overhead kick.

Redbridge FC v Waltham Abbey 21 January 2012 Ryman Division One North at Oakside Stadium. (Dave Horn / EAP)

Redbridge’s Mitchell Das attempting a Rooney like finish against Waltham Abbey on 21 January 2012

6.  My Player of the SeasonI was asked early on in the season who my favourite player was and there were a few, Ryan ‘Rhino’ Murray, Adam Rafis, Ben Bradbury to name a few.  However, it was Billy Sendall that stood out for me then and continued to throughout the season, maybe it was because he plays in the same position I used to and I could better appreciate what a good job he was doing.  Well, I couldn’t have been too far wrong as he picked up Manager’s Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year for the 2011/12 season.

 (Photographer: David Horn)

Redbridge’s Billy Sendall in action against Ebbsfleet in the FA Cup, 4th Qualifying round on 29th October 2011

5.  Football LeagueMaking the 1st Round Proper in the FA Cup meant that Redbridge had the opportunity to meet some pretty big teams from the Football League, let alone when they made the 2nd Round! They drew Division Two high flyers and big money spenders Crawley Town.  It was my first time photographing at a League Ground and I enjoyed every minute of it – even meeting ex-Redbridge photographer George!  Unfortunately, the scoreline was flattering to Crawley who came out 5-0 winners on the day with a superb performance by Crawley’s hit mad, Matt Tubbs.

Nathan Gordon (r) gets the better of Crawley’s Sergio Torres (l)

4.  Blood, Sweat and TearsFor me, this image sums up the passion that Manager Terry Spillane instilled in the Redbridge Team during the 2011/12 season as well as showing the strength and commitment of the Redbridge skipper, Glen Golby.

Redbridge’s Captain Glen Golby leaves the pitch for treatment during Redbridge’s FA Cup First Round draw at home to Oxford City

3.  International PhotographerWhilst not the best photograph, or the most technically impressive – this image makes number 3 in my list purely because it was my first international sale.  This image appeared in Finland’s top sports magazine, Veikkaaja, as they ran a piece on the magic of the FA Cup.  They liked the misty-mess in the image!  At one time I thought the game was going to be called off as the fog came down and you could hardly see from one side of the pitch to the other.

Photo from Redbridge FC’s FA Cup 1st Round Replay against Oxford City in Finland’s top sports magazine Veikkaaja 29-11-12 to 6-12-12 Page 66

2.   Front Page!Imagine my surprise when I walked in the newsagents on Sunday morning to see if any of the images I sent over to The Non League Paper of Redbridge’s win against Conference side Ebbsfleet in the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup, and it was my image on the Front Page!  They did manage to hide Billy Sendall’s pants though!  I also have to give a special thanks to Adrian Rixon for this photo, who pushed me into the changing rooms :)

 (Photographer: David Horn)

Scorer of Redbridge’s 1st goal, Ryan ‘Rhino’ Murray, cracks open the champagne to celebrate Redbridge’s victory that sent them into the FA Cup 1st Round Proper, supporting a bloody nose from the game!

1.   National Daily Publication This has go to be my favourite photo of the season – not only does it sum up the passion of the game, it was my first image published in a national daily paper.  This image, of James Robinson (Jimmy Greaves’ Grandson), celebrating Ryan ‘Rhino’ Murray’s opening goal against Ebbsfleet from the Conference in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round game on 29 October 2011.  This image appeared across two pages in the Daily Telegraph’s Saturday sports supplement.  (Photographer: David Horn)  It would not be a fitting way to finish this summary of the season without a specific mention of the following people who made me feel really welcome down at Oakside;

  • Adam Dennehey
  • Adam Silver
  • Adrian Rixon
  • Terry Spillane
  • Harry Lawson
  • Len Cordell
  • Katie Thwaites

 Here’s to a successful 2012/13 season!

All images from Redbridge’s 2011/12 season can be found

by clicking HERE