Advice and help on becoming a world class photographer by Sports Photographer Vince Rush

Posts tagged “Football

Faces In The Crowd

By Ohio Sports Photographer, Vincent Rush

Are you shooting sports photography to earn a secondary income, or are you shooting sports photography because it’s a hobby that you have no intention of ever expanding into a business?
If you are doing it to earn an income, and are like most aspiring sports photographers, you shoot a Friday night or Saturday football game and capture hundreds of action shots and run home to your computer and upload your favorites to a website such as Smug Mug and then sit back and hope the cash starts coming in.
You will also notice that there are several other photographers at your local events, with the same intentions.
I’ve always said, live by the philosophy of “Observe the masses and do the opposite”
One of your “hidden treasures” in any high school event is the kids in the crowd.
I consistently sell more 5×7’s and 4×6 prints form my journeys up into the stands that the actual game photos, simply because…NO ONE ELSE DOES!
There is a secret though, don’t just fire off snap shots that anyone with an I-Phone can capture. Be a little creative and always take a second to make sure you don’t embarrass anyone kid or post up some idiot that is flipping the finger in the background.
Oh. Yeah…I’ve saw worse than that in the background of some of my photos! Examine them carefully. There’s an idiot in every crowd.
I particularly take care to remove bad acne in a shot like that. I do not want a kid with a developing self image to be made fun of by his peers so I am very meticulous in taking care of that detail before I post a picture.
If you don’t want to sell the pics, but still want the efforts to produce fruit, post them on a local kids or schools Facebook page.
Kids will tag themselves and share the photos, garnering you some free “Brand Exposure”.
Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at or visit

I’m An Incredible, Amazing Photographer!

“Protect this House” by Cincinnati, Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Cincinnati Sports Photography

By Vincent Rush, Ohio Sports Photographer

Ok, not really!

I was just echoing the most overused quote on Facebook, regarding photographers.

It’s school season and more specifically “Senior Portrait” season and among my very close and personal 1400+  Facebook friends, I am constantly seeing photos posted, either great, good, average or just plain poor, with someone’s name and the word “Photography” attached to it.

Then of course the subject or parent goes on to describe what an “Amazing Photographer” said individual is.

As a photographer myself, I am always amazed at some of the pictures that aspiring “photogs” allow to be posted in an effort to establish their brand and style.

In today’s world of photography, with camera technology and lighting techniques along with a basic understanding of Photoshop or other editing software, anyone can take acceptable quality portraits and produce a picture that any Mother would love.

I have never claimed to be anything special, other than an exceptional sports action photographer. I know my niche and what I’m good at.

Every photographer should take inventory and know what their true talent is…as well as what it’s not!

And even at that, I know the real secret to being a “Great Photographer” is in knowing what to delete and what to share with the world.

When I began building my brand, which is more important than building a business because without the brand, the business can’t survive, I was very protective about what I shared with the public.

That discretion allowed me to build my value and identity as a sports photographer.

Every “Photographer” I see on Facebook, has a few great shots that I myself wished that I had shot. However, I often see those pictures sandwiched in between mediocre snap shots that anyone with a “Point and Shoot” could have captured.

I am also seeing, in my opinion, waaaaay too many snap shots posted with a watermark identifying the picture as property of, “XYZ Photography”.

Is everyone with a camera today a professional?

I can however, also appreciate anyone trying to build a little business and produce additional income in today’s economic climates.

I admit, I had no traction in 2006, when I was given a Nikon D2x, as a gift and began shooting for the first time since 1990.

There was also no Facebook or social media back then, so I cannot say that I would have not taken the same route.

But even back in the day, I was very careful about what kind of pictures I exposed on my website and handed out at ball games.

Two good examples of what not to do come to mind;

I have a photographer friend that shoots a lot of low budget weddings and senior portraits.

Now my friend has really improved on their skill and mastery of lighting over the past couple of years and is really starting to do some outstanding work.

However, my friend also keeps damaging their “Brand” by publicizing some really, how do I phrase this…gnarly pics. By gnarly I am implying…non attractive photos of things like, overweight brides in unflattering dresses with even more unflattering tattoos, unless you’re a big fan of “Honey Boo Boo Child”

They are wedding pictures and Senior photos that may be only attractive to the Mothers of the photographed…if you know what I mean.

It’s OK to shoot those, and if your client is happy, that is all that really matters. However,  photographer should use a fair amount of discretion on what to “Share with the World”!

There is a reason Victoria’s Secret does not put the women who actually buy their outfits in their catalogs, much in the same way Canali or Armani would not put ME in theirs!

Another example is a local sports photography business, consisting of two guys in my community.

They will cover a sporting event for football or baseball and while they capture some great images, they then dump 400 pictures from the game on their Smug Mug site, forcing a parent to have to sift through to find a photo worth paying $15-20.00 for.

I have had good success carving out a niche to where I rarely do general game coverage anymore.

Most of my business is now “client shoots”, where a parent hires me to come and cover their kid or their team for an entire game.

The price for these events I do range anywhere from $300-$400.00.

I then present the client with a CD of edited…I REPEAT…..EDITED photos and keep the total to between 60-80 shots.

I have a website at that has numerous examples of sports photography and illustrates what I am talking about.

I also get asked every year to do a handful of senior portraits for $500, of which I provide 4 poses, on location, and present a CD to the parents. I typically do about 5 a year.

I asked one of my friends recently, what they charge for the same thing and twice as much work, when it came to senior portraits.

While I never got a clear answer, I assume it was around $250-$300, forcing them to shoot 8.3 jobs compared to my 5.

This friend commented that is was hard to get that kind of money in a small town. While I noted that I lived in a smaller town, I pointed out that it’s not the size of the town, but rather it’s the perceived value of the service rendered. That value has been diminished, not because they are not talented, but because they are not particular about what they post as their calling cards.

So determine, what you are worth and what to you want your value to be perceived as? They are in fact two different things.

By the way, two GREAT sports photographers that I admire in Sports Photography is a guy by the name of Rick Lohre @ and Barb Trimble @

And two Cincinnati photographers that I really like in portrait photography are Moon Beam Studios @ and JMM Photography @

Happy Shooting! Vincent Rush, Cincinnati sports Photography

Taking It To The House by Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Brookville Football vs. Valley View by Dayton Sports Photography and Vincent Rush

Glory Bound by Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush


Trailing Valley View 12-8 with 17 seconds left in the game, Brookville 5th grader, Mason Stout, gets behind a Spartan defender to pull down a half back option pass and sprint 68 yards for the touchdown and the last second win on Saturday, October 1st in Germantown, Ohio.

The Right Place at The Right Time by Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Eaton Eagles vs. Monroe Hornets by Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Eaton Eagles QB, Trevor Pittman passes against the Monroe Hornets by Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

I am constantly preaching angles and anticipation are a huge factor in becoming a great sports photographer versus a picture taker on the side lines.

I had a client ask me to get some shots of their son playing football in Monroe, Ohio recently.

Trevor Pittman, seen in this shot, started the game for the Eaton Eagle at Quarterback.

While working the sidelines and watching where the holes had a tendency to open up on the line, I positioned myself in his potential passing lane on a 3rd and long situation, and was rewarded with this capture.

His Mom told me, upon seeing the picture, that it was his first and only passing attempt, to date, of his early career.

I feel that God blesses me with an ability to somehow, always be in the right place at the right time.

I was looking at some of my, so-called, local competitions web offerings recently on their site, and noticed a particular sport, that had something like 30 galleries and more that 5000 photos.

While some of the photographs were outstanding, they were like Easter eggs, hidden in a corn field, among countless unedited photos of the athlete in awkward body positions, either facing the camera or not, sometimes “floating” in air, with not subject matter, etc….

The sad part is, this individual could actually be a pretty good photographer if they understood this simple concept.When your moto drive is snapping off 8 frames a second, you’re going to get some show stoppers in the 8-900 shots you shoot at a game. The secret is, not to bury them in the site with the 700 bad ones.

A $5000 camera and a $6000 lens, will get smoked every time by a parent with a Nikon D90 and a kit lens, that does understand that concept.

I saw a photographer for the Hamilton Journal News in Hamilton, Ohio, shooting Little League tournament photography with a very high end Canon and a 400m 2.8 lens recently and most every shot they presented for game coverage was sub par and no better than some of the parents pictures from the sidelines with cameras from Best Buy.

One of the other Proverbs that I often recite is “Thou shalt protect thy brand and thy brand image”

As a sports photographer, if you want to continually get calls for high paying gigs and be able to charge premium prices, you have to understand marketing and how an audience thinks.

We are a microwave society today. A few years ago, a successful site on internet, subscribed to something called a “3 Click Rule”, that essentially stated, “If  a visitor to your web site can’t find what they are looking for in 3 clicks, they bounce off the site.

If you’re shooting a game of any sport and you “dump” 144 photos on the site in a gallery, with a good portion of the photos, unflattering to the subject or awkward looking, you’re going to cheapen your brand and never really be able to command top dollar for your work. You’re also going to lose a lot of potential customers that grow weary in searching for the Sports Illustrated shot of their son or Daughter.

Know your Sport…Know your Players! Part 1

Batters Eye View

Monroe Hornets Sports Photography by Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush


Know your Sport, Know your Players Part 1

Each sport is different in the techniques used to capture the moment. Each sport has a limited number of unique shots. You can only shoot so many basketball games before you start feeling like, “been there, done that”. Each sport also has opportunities to get “safeties”. A safety is a shot that is easy to get and will give you something to publish if you fail to get good action. For instance, I was shooting a baseball game. In the visitors at bat in the second inning, the skies opened up and it started raining. I had time to shoot the home team in the field and at bat once. Realizing the pending weather, I concentrated on getting some simple usable shots instead of waiting on some excitement at a base, like a steal. Safeties include things like batters batting, pitchers pitching, basketball players shooting free throws, the quarterback under center. Take times when the action is slow to get some good tight shots to use in case no good action materializes. Shoot your safeties first, concentrate on action later. You always want to come back with something.

Its also important to spend some time at an event and not rush the assignment. Many photographers are under intense deadlines and cannot devote enough time to their sporting events and it shows in their work. I expect one usable shot every 20 frames. I like to shoot at least 72 (2 -36’s) per event and I can come out with several usable shots and some fantastic ones. If you go to a soccer game and shoot a 1GB chip, don’t expect much.

Its very important to know the sport you are covering. You have to know the coach and their coaching style. You have to understand some basic fundamentals of the game or you will become very frustrated. For instance, in football, if its 3rd down and 1 yard to go, don’t expect a pass, but point the camera at the full back. In most likelihood, he will be getting the ball, unless its late in the game and they have to pass. Or don’t wait on a steal at 2nd base with 2 outs. Coaches hate making the last out of the inning on the base paths.
You also need to know players and their habits. Some players are full of emotion and tend to display their patterned moves. For instance at a local high school girls soccer match, I got a dramatic sequence of a player doing a cartwheel throw in. I knew it was coming and I was prepared for her move when she got the ball.
Knowing your sport goes beyond the rules and players. Know your coaches and what tends to make them emotional. Get fan shots or cheerleader shots with their emotion. A co-worker once told me “even a blind pig gets an acorn once in a while”. Any photographer will eventually get the “action” shot, but sometimes you need that crying cheerleader after a loss, or fans in costumes going nuts to completely tell the story. The game goes beyond the boundaries of the field and the rule book.

Baseball is one of the hardest sports to shoot. The action is unpredictable. You wait and wait and then when you are half asleep, something happens. Much of the field is out of range of normal zoom and telephoto lenses. Depending on the level of your sport, you will need long lenses. For most regulation fields (90 feet between bases, 350+ feet to the wall), you need 400mm or longer if you are shooting from the dugouts. It lets you shoot all the infield positions reasonably tight from the dugout/press area. The near base can be gotten with a 200-300mm lens. If you are shooting little league, you can get away with a 200-300mm lens because of the smaller fields unless you are trying to catch the outfield. Night baseball is too poorly lit and you need professional long telephotos to capture good images here.

Your safeties in baseball consist of the pitcher, throwing the ball, the batters batting, the catcher catching or getting a sign from the dugout. After these shots, the game becomes a little less predictable. When a batter hits the ball to an infielder, you have to find the play, aim the camera, focus, and fire. Generally its too late. What you have to do is kinda keep the camera pointed at the short stop or the second baseman. Keep the camera near your face, but you need to watch the play. In particular, if you are standing where you can see the batters stomach, you are in risk of getting hit by a foul ball. If you see the batters back, you will rarely see a foul ball. Once you have an idea of where the play is going, you can adjust, focus and fire. If you are shooting from the first base dugout, 3rd and Short Stop should be about the same distance away, so you can zone focus here. Likewise, from the third base dugout, 2nd and 1st are about the same distance.

Unlike baseball, basketball is the easiest sport to shoot. Action is contained in a 100 foot x 50 foot area. There are two objects (the nets) where the action always heads. Basketball is a game of limited shots though. You can shoot jump shots, lay ups, free throws, blocks, dribbling, and defense. Zone focus works well in basketball. You know lay ups are going to happen close to the net, so focus on the net and wait on the action to come to you. Your focusing techniques will vary somewhat if you are on the side line or base line. If you are on the baseline, zone focus is the best method. If you are along the side, you can follow focus. Your safeties are free throws and players dribbling or looking to pass. At these times action is minimal and you can get some good tight shots of players.

Basketball (and other gym sports) is probably the worst lighting situation you will get into, however, you can get away with much slower shutter speeds. When a player drives for a lay up or takes a jump shot, they almost pause at the top of their jump. This is the peak of the action and the shot should be taken then. Since they have stopped moving for a millisecond, that is the best time to freeze them. Once you have these shots under your belt, you can then start working on emotion shots, blocks, and other action which may not come along as often.

Generally you can get away with anywhere between a 50mm and 135mm lens with 85-105 being optimal. This lets you cover out to about mid court. If you want to shoot shots under the far basket, you will need a longer lens. However a fast lens, like an 85mm F1.4 is an excellent choice for most of your basketball action shots.

Football is also an easy sport to shoot but may be one of the most equipment intense sports. Most of the time, you will be shooting at night and fast glass is required. Motion is predictable and a student of the game can almost predict the plays to allow you to get ready. Knowing your sports allows you to know if its a passing situation or running situation so you know where to focus your attention. For instance, in a football game, if it is 3rd down with 1 yard to go, you can be pretty comfortable that a running play is coming. So get your lens pointed at the backfield and get ready.

Football affords the fewest safeties. You can get the QB getting ready to pass or the coach on the side lines. However, the action shots are plenty. You will get opportunities to photograph the quarterback throwing the ball and running backs running the ball. Make sure you get these shots. Then you can go hunting pass plays to the receivers.

If you have freedom of movement, you want to set up 5-10 yards down field from the play. That way you get the QB and running backs coming at you. If you are stuck in photo zones between the goal line and the 35 yard marker, you will be limited to shooting plays that occur in that area. Big glass is important to football. If you have freedom of movement, a 300mm F2.8 is the ideal lens. However if you are restricted, you either need a 2x on the 300mm or a 600mm to reach plays on the far end of the field. If you are patient or shooting youth league, you can get away with an 80-200 zoom. You will have to wait on more plays to come your way. You wont get much in the middle or far side of the field.

Since football movement is up and down the field and most photographers shoot from a side line, football is a follow focus sport. It is a pretty easy sport to follow focus because the subject to camera distance changes constantly, so once you start focusing, you should be able to time your turning the focus ring with their movement.

Soccer and Hockey
Auto focus was invented with soccer and hockey in mind. These two sports involve rapid changes in direction. The subject to camera distance changes so fast, its hard to follow focus because in an instant, the play is heading another direction. Zone focusing is a bit more applicable, except there is no guarantee the play will enter your focus zone. AF solves this problem because it tracks the play better than you. These two sports alone are the reason I moved from manual cameras to auto focus.

Soccer is a game where you need long lenses. Generally, you have good access to the side lines. At the major league and college level, there may be some limits, but they probably are not as tight as football because the number of players on the sidelines is much less. You will typically shoot from the touch (or side) lines, though you can get some real good shots from behind the net or along the goal line. The lens of choice for Soccer is a 400mm F2.8 or longer. Many pro soccer photographers will have two cameras. One with the long lens mounted and a second with an 80-200mm zoom. This gives me some flexibility in composition while giving me the length needed to capture this large field game. If play gets close, they can switch bodies and go to the shorter lens.

Soccer is a good game to get some dynamic and exciting photos. Your safeties include players dribbling the ball and throw ins. Get these shots and then work on catching headers, traps, corner kicks, and goalie saves. Soccer headers require the most accurate guessing on timing. The ball will be out of the frame quickly. It takes a lot of practice to capture these.

Hockey, while similar to soccer in its unpredictable movement, has an advantage of being played in a smaller contained area. An 80-200mm lens is good for shooting hockey regardless of where the play is. To get shots on the far end of the rink, up to 300mm may be needed. Hockey however has some quirks that you need to be aware of. Frequently you are limited to shooting through the glass which limits the angles you can shoot or through chain link fence for outdoor roller hockey. Some arenas you are limited to one location and have a small hole to shoot though and you most likely will be competing with other photographers for this real estate.
The ice or deck wrecks havoc with your camera’s meter. You will need to overexpose by at least one stop in ice rinks to get white ice. This takes away from your available shutter speed. Your safeties includes face offs, and players skating with the puck/ball. Good shots can be had of the goalies, though many of your shots will be of players on the rink.

Written by Sports Photographer Rob Miracle and posted by Cincinnati Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Cincinnati Sports Photography.

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at or visit Check out my profile!

Steelers vs Packers and Bart Starr

BArt Starr

Personal Bart Starr autographed football by Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Sitting on the couch with my Dad, watching my very first NFL football game I can still hear him cursing the day that the Steelers had drafted “The dumbest quarterback in history….”Bleepin” Terry Bradshaw! I remember more colorful language as he proclaimed that they Steelers should fire Chuck Noll, That Terry Hanratty or Joe Gilliam should be in a QB and on and on and on.

Dad was from an area just outside of Pittsburgh, in a town called Washington, Pennsylvania.

2 minutes later…all was right with the world, as Franco Harris scooped up a deflected pass off of Frenchie Fuqua and ran into football history with the immaculate reception. From that day on, I was a Steelers fan.

Growing up in the Cincinnati and Dayton region, I used to win a lot of lunch money on Steelers vs. Bengal’s week. I had a Steelers lunch box, rain coat, note book and a whole host of Steelers swag. On the rare occasions that the Bengals would win and my classmates would hit me with “Score Board, Rush!”, I could always retort with “Trophy Case!”

I’m also a fan of Bart Starr.

In 1993, as I was getting my Amway business started, I became good friends with an Amway Diamond by the name of Larry Winters. Larry was one of my business mentors. At the time I probably only had about 50 people on my team and wasn’t really on the radar as a future success story.

Larry’s team was about 3-4000 people strong at the time, and as a result, he was running his own “Major Functions”.

In January of 1993, Larry brought legendary Green Bay Packer quarterback Bart Starr in as a guest speaker for the weekend.

I had the honor of being asked to host Bart while he was in town.

As a result I got to drive Bart around, take him to dinner and spend about 5 hours with him. It was one of my most memorable events I ever participated in. Bart was a truly genuine, down to earth human being and one of the nicest guys I ever met. He taught me a few valuable lessons about leadership, compassion and people skills that I still hold tight to today. And he also signed a football and a helmet for me.

As a result I became a semi-Packer’s fan as well as a Steelers  fan.

So today on Super Bowl Sunday, while I root for the Steelers, I remain a Bart Starr fan. And no matter the outcome of Super Bowl 45, I can always find comfort in the trophy case.

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at or visit Check out my profile!