On Sunday if all goes to plan, I’m hoping to head up to Maroochydore for Red Bull’s Manny Mania Qualifier at the Alexandra Headlands Skate Park. The idea being that I could experiment with some action shots, particularly of skateboarders.
I decided it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a look at what tips are floating around the net when it comes to photographing skateboarders in action.
There are a number of resources I looked at (listed at the end of this post), and it seems to me that the recurring key tips when it comes to shooting skaters are:
1. Get your shutter speed right
This one might seem pretty obvious, but it is also very important. If you want crisp, clear shots, you need a fast shutter speed. Recommendations seem to vary from 1/200 to 1/250 or higher. Realistically though, you just need to make sure it’s fast enough to capture their movement without blurring. So if they are moving fast, set it higher. If they are moving slow, anything above 1/200 should be fine. If you want blur, then slow it down a bit.
2. Experiment with angles
Skateboarding is a very versatile sport with many different tricks and possibilities. An eye level shot isn’t necessarily going to really show off what they are doing though. Low angle shots can make them seem higher and can give a completely different feeling to the image. High angle shots can give you something unusual, and a wide angle lens can help you fit everything in. Getting the sun behind them will give you a silhouette. Getting the right angle can give you cool shadows to play with as well, and you can use them for something different, such as just show the board and legs of the rider with their shadow being the main focus of the shot.
3. Show some attitude/character
Skateboarders can be very interesting characters and you can set some interesting scenes. Get the tricks at their most interesting point to give your shots more character, and show as much of the skater as possible to get their expressions, make the audience interested in what they are doing.
4. Work with your subjects
Skaters are creative too, they are making up tricks and they know what they want to do, so chances are they will have some good ideas for photos and what might work. Talk to them and see what they’d like to do.
5. Be prepared
Manual focus where appropriate, and always have your camera ready to shoot at the right time without the risk of auto focus deciding something else should be the focal point. Using manual focus also reduces the time your camera will need to take the photo, so as soon as you hit the button you’ll have your shot, meaning less chance of missing that perfect opportunity
Whatever tips there are, experiment, you are a creative and the goal is to get the best shot possible, so try different things. Lie down on the ground to get the best angle, or go climb a try if necessary. Experiment with lighting and lighting sources. Don’t be afraid to try out something new.
Links and Resources
- 8 Tips for Skateboard Shooting – Digital Photography School
- 19 Radical Skateboard Photography Tips – Beyond Phototips
- 10 tips: BMX and Skate Photography – JPG Mag
- Shot Composition Basics – HeyDay Skateboarding
- How to Shoot Skateboarding – The Photo Forum
- Skaters Cafe Photography Tips and Tricks Forum – Skaters Cafe
Enjoy and good luck!