Every now and then, I like to mix it up and feature a guest blogger that does something very different from what I do. Today, that guest blogger is the awesome Jim Cayer! Jim, also known as “Homer” to the inner circle, is an incredibly talented sports photographer in Long Beach, California. I actually met Jim online, and then officially in person in Tulsa at a photography conference last April that we both taught classes at. His sports photography class was definitely the opposite end of the spectrum from my wedding class!
And now, without further adieu, Homer!
(Photo by Wendi Riggens)
How I got involved in sports action photography
I coached my kids’ t-ball, flag football, and soccer teams while they were young and always brought my camera to take various action shots of the kids. It was during this time I found I had an eye for the action and most importantly loved doing it. As my son grew older and continued in sports through middle school and then high school so did my love for sports action photography grow. The weirdest thing is I don’t really watch or pay attention to sports on TV.
This passion for sports shooting has led me to covering my city’s middle school sports program and their championship games, a local high school football team, and recently I was asked by a local sports paper to cover our community’s middle / high school and college sports scene.
Why I love sports action Photography?
How can you not love it? There is nothing more exciting or intense than attending a sporting event with the fans screaming and the band playing. What makes it even better is having the best seat in the house while shooting the action!
The thrill of capturing that one shot displaying intensity and emotion all captured with a single expression makes it all worth it!
What is my favorite sport to cover?
My favorite sport to cover would have to be track and the higher the level of track the better. With track there is just so much going on and so many opportunities for great action. To break this down even further my favorite action to shoot has to be the high jump. I am simply amazed at what these athletes can do and I love capturing that single moment as they wrap their body up and over the bar, it’s simply beauty in motion.
What is the most rewarding sporting event you have covered?
This has to be the Southern California Special Olympic Summer Games, which are held at Cal State Long Beach each summer. I have volunteered my services with them for the last four years as a photographer and can’t think of anything more rewarding. I take great pride in the ability to capture not just the action, but the intensity and emotion in which our athletes compete at. Because of this I have been given various assignments through the Special Olympics to cover those sports most photographers stay away from, such as bocce ball and golf.
What advice would I give someone who’s new to shooting sports action?
I can go over things like aperture, ISO, and shutter speeds, but for me the most important thing(s) when shooting sports action is positioning and staying low. When it comes to getting the shot it’s all about where you position yourself. A game is constantly changing and moving and so should you as the photographer to get the shot.
What does staying low have to do with sports photography? Everything! Now this doesn’t say there aren’t times where you would want to be standing or at a higher position than the athlete, but on the most part you want to be low, such as sitting or kneeling, and even on occasion laying prone. Being low adds impact and makes the athlete appear larger than life. This is especially true for youth sports.
(Photo by Charlie Shinn)
What gear do I use?
Currently I use the Canon Mark IIn, along with the following lens; Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, and Canon 24-70 f/2.8L.
(Photo by Steph Allen)
Published in Sports Illustrated
I think a dream for any sports shooter would be being published in Sports Illustrated. Well in November of 2011 I was contacted by the assistant photo editor of SI inquiring about a particular high school football player from a local high school I cover. They were doing an article on him and needed an action shot of him running with the ball. As things would have it I had several shots, which were later sent to the editor for review. About a month later I was informed they wanted to use one of my shots in their December 5th, 2011 issue. In the end I was given credit for the published shot and compensated for its use. “A dream come true”.
When not shooting sports
When I’m in between season / sports I love to venture out to our local wet lands and wildlife sanctuary. I find it very peaceful and soothing being outside enjoying sights and sounds of both nature and wildlife. When not shooting I will relax and enjoy my time with my wife and kids or you’ll find me playing an online game with my friends from all over the country.
(Photo by Paige Peacher)