On my very first article for Manfrotto I talked about table tennis, an awesome discipline I discovered through photography. Today I am writing about basketball, my favourite sport with and without a camera in hand.
My teenage was surrounded by NBA posters, the images of shining lights and acrobatic shots chased me much before I decided I wanted to be a photojournalist. Moreover, my sister reached a good level as a player (Catalan Premiere League) so the chances to play, talk, watch and photography basketball were always there.
For me, basketball photography is not about freeze a monstrous dunk, but to “understand the game” and predict – if possible – where the ball is going to be. As I say on my lectures, don’t hesitate to spend some time in the start of the game “Reading the players”, it’s a pretty good invest. Who are you most interested in get pictures of? Is he/she lefty? Where does he/she play? Good shooting percentage tonight? (AKA will be shooting over and over till the end) or maybe it’s not his/her day?
Wildlife photographers read about biology and animal behaviour, so should sports photographers do about sportspeople and tactics.
Mainly, the placement of a basketball photographer is on the corners of the court, or under the basket. Which side of the court is just a decision related to which team are you more interest of. Just place yourself on the side they want to score, hence, they will come to you as the team attacks (front/face pictures) not a favourite team tonight? No worries, on the second half they’ll chance the scoring side.
If you go to the corner, a 70-200 mm lens is the best election, this is a good place to shoot backcourt players (playmakers, guards and small forwards) due to you have a clean “camp of view”. Otherwise, if you place yourself just under the basket, you’ll have great chances to shoot strong forwards and centers, usually with a wide angles lens, as you are pretty close. But take care about your point of view, most of them are 2,13 cm (7 feet) tall, so if you’re seated down on the floor 3 meters away and shoot them with a 16 mm lens, they’ll look like the Eiffel tower (big feet, small head) and overall, you won’t get an expressive image of their faces.
-So David, any advice for a good picture under the net with a wide angle lens?
-I love this question, thanks. Sure, use a remote camera.
Sometimes you just can not be there, if you place a camera after the backboard (did you ever questioned with the basket backboards are transparent?) or under the support, your visualised image is gonna work for sure. You’ll get expressive faces, wide angle images (whole court) and the viewer won’t think you were a Liliputian wandering with a DSLR camera. Jackpot!!
Otherwise, a remote camera is always a Joker for you, just place it somewhere not dangerous for the players, referees and public and shoot it from the distance. Surprising pictures -both good and bad- will come up at the end of the match.
And last but not least, like in any other sport, something is happening out of the court ALWAYS. Keep an eye to the bench for expressive coaches and concentrated players. But overall, enjoy the game and the atmosphere of the gym. Show must go on.
David Fajula Jufré is a Photojournalist based in Northern Catalonia. His images have been published in notorious international newspapers such as; Vladivostok Times (Russia) Metro, 24 h, Canoe (Québec) Norrköpings Tidningar (Sweden) Dnevni Avaz (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Slovenian American Times (US & Canada) Mundo Deportivo (Spain) El Periòdic d’Andorra (Andorra) or Budaörsi Napló (Hungary) among many others.
As well, his client list includes US based universities Oregon & Princeton, Hôtel de Ville de Montréal (Montreal City Hall) and other educative and cultural institutions.
His is also proud to be the Vice-president of Manlleu Camera Club.
More about David and his job on www.davidfajula.com