How to Snap Spectacular Photos of Your Kid’s Sports


By Guest Contributor San Fransisco 49ers team photographer Kym Fortino

Everyone wants great action shots of their kids playing sports. Whether it’s scoring a goal, hitting a jump shot, throwing out a runner, etc. Having a good camera is only half the battle. Knowing what to do with it is the other.

The beauty of digital photography is being able to shoot an endless number of frames, without the hassle of developing film. However, that doesn’t mean you should take a million photographs.
Keep in mind, you are the one who has to edit them all!

My journey in photography started with youth sports, so hopefully I can save you some growing pains by offering some pointers I learned along the way.

With that being said, here are some important tips to get you game-day ready:

FOOTBALL1 kim youth sports

In order to ‘freeze’ the action, you will want your shutter speed no less than 1/500 of a second. Adjust your ISO + Aperture in order to obtain that 1/500 of a second shutter speed.

In sports, you typically can’t control your surroundings. Your Aperture setting will at least allow you to control the Depth of Field (DOF) to ‘blur’ out the background. Essentially, this allows you a chance to focus on your subject a little more without background distractions. Adjust your Aperture between 2.8f and 3.5f to achieve a good DOF.

SOFTBALL1 kym photos

Set your camera to AI Servo and Continuous shot mode. This will enable you to keep focus while tracking the action and take multiple shots when holding the shutter button down.What Lens  should you buy? Most sporting games take place on large fields. That will prevent parents from getting close to the action, so you’ll want to get a lens comparable to a 70-300mm telephoto lens to give yourself some versatility with distance.

Shoot with intention. Know what type of shot you are looking to capture. Be patient, and wait for action to come to you. If the action is running away from you, it’s not as likely to be a great image.


SOCCER1 kim photos
We have a saying: if you didn’t get it, you just didn’t get it. What does that mean? Soft or out-of-focus images aren’t keepers. Don’t be afraid to delete, and move on from that moment. The goal is to capture clean, sharp images.

Game action is always exciting, but don’t be afraid to pull away from the game and look for details, emotion or candid portraits. Candid portraits happen to be my favorite off-field images. It’s almost like a headshot (think tight – head and shoulders framing), but a candid moment. Your athlete doesn’t need to be looking at the camera. Looking off, or from the side can produce compelling images.

SOFTBALL-GROUP kim youth photos

Always have a safe back-up process. All those precious images and memories should be backed up to some kind of external hard drive.

Know the game. The more you know about the game you are shooting, the better your images will be. You’ll be able to anticipate the plays and/or put yourself in the best position to capture the peak action.

Last, but not least … Know your camera! Take it out of Auto mode, challenge yourself, and understand the nuances and options you have. It’s a powerful tool if you know how to use it. Ask other photographers, YouTube it or take a class at a local photography store.

Kym Fortino’s is one of the few female NFL photographers. I met her many years ago on the 49ers sidelines. Click here to read her inspiring story.  Follow her on twitter @kympossible3.

(All Photos used in this post are copyrighted and courtesy of @kympossible3 they may not be used without permission)



Leave a Comment.

Newsletter Signup
Sign up for the newsletter to get our top youth sports parenting stories delivered to your inbox.
Never display this again