This week I’m off to Vegas for a basketball tournament with Kate. High school is flying by so fast with this girl I’m excited to spend time with her. I scored a press pass and I’m looking forward to getting some great shots of Kate and her teammates playing the game they love.
One thing I’ve been wanting to share here are a few workflow tips on photographing sports for your kids. These are things I’ve worked into my PhotoFlow over time and they really save me time and stress – especially when shooting photos to share with the team.
1. Workflow Starts Before The Game (Setting Up To Sync)
If you are shooting with an SLR there are a few things you can do to make your post-processing seamless. Basketball is shot in different gyms with different lighting so getting a good white balance is critical. One of the tricks I use is to zoom in on anything white around the court (most often it is a piece of a players uniform), switch to manual focus and blur the image then take a shot. I then will set the custom white balance with that shot.
After downloading photos into Lightroom I select the Previous Import collection on the left pane. Then I use the white eyedropper tool in Develop mode to set the white balance of the photo. Pressing “G” to switch back to Library mode I then press CTRL/CMD+A to select all the photos from the game and then press Sync Settings on the lower right of the right library pane. I choose white balance and Synchronize and the white balance is corrected for all the photos.
You will find the Sync settings in Lightroom to truly be a major timesaver. There are times when I still have to fine tune develop settings but more often than not this gives me exactly what I need.
2. Store The Season’s Photos in One Computer Folder
As an amateur sports photographer I find that I shoot a LOT of photos during a game. Truth be told I delete about 50-80% of the photos I shoot in each game. This often has to do with a series of photos taken in a split second – I only keep the best shot. I also won’t keep a shot unless I feel it is something a parent would frame or put into a scrapbook. It’s tough but this is also the most liberating thing you can do – there is nothing more overwhelming than too many photos.
4. Keyword Players with Number & Name
I learned this one the hard way. Try shooting photos of an entire season – that’s 20+ Varsity games with about 50 photos a game. Then try to share those photos with parents in a way that is meaningful for each player. Chances are a disk with over 1000 images is just too overwhelming to get through.
This year I got smart and started a keyword category with the team name and then added each player as a sub-keyword with #-Lastname_firstname. Most teams will have a written program with the player’s names and numbers which is a great help in building these keywords/tags.
I know some will ask why I put the number first and there is a good reason! When you are key wording your photos, you will find that it is much easier and faster to keyword according to number – especially with new players you don’t recognize early in the season. Most photos will show the uniform and player number, making the process of key wording a breeze.
Now there are also sports where players don’t have numbers – in that case I just keyword in a “lastname_firstname” or “firstname_lastname” fashion. Choose whichever is easier for you to recognize as you keyword.
5. Star Ratings
My usual workflow goes something like this – sync, delete, key wording, basic editing. During my final pass I then add star ratings to my photos. This is something that has literally saved me hours of searching. 1 star means the photo gets uploaded to the team Facebook page. 2 stars means it is in the running for a great individual shot (I often share these with our local newspaper). 3 stars means it goes into my personal portfolio of favorite images.
Star ratings come in especially helpful when administration, coaches and media call for images of a particular player. They also come in handy for the coaches’ annual photo book and senior night spotlights. When you have around 300 images of some of your top players it makes it so easy to filter down to the best images to share.
6. Get Help When Choosing Photos
I often will get my daughter’s opinion when going through the first pass to delete photos. While I tend to look at the images from a technical perspective, she has the player’s perspective and can easily spot photos they will love. It’s always good to get a second opinion from a peer of your photo subjects.
7. Share on Facebook
One of my favorite tools for sharing is Facebook. Create albums based on individual games and share. Set the album privacy to public and then share the albums on the team’s Facebook page. Players and parents will tag their girls and the comments are a fun way to share stories behind the photos written by the players. Lightroom’s interface with Facebook allows you download these comments. Generally I only copy comments that are most relevant and add them to the caption field for the photo.
8. Create a Keyword and Sub-Keywords for Teams Played
This is something I implemented late in the last season and wished I had done it earlier. With a Teams Played keyword and then sub-keywords for the names of the teams you can easily filter photos. This comes in especially handy when trying to gather good photos from several games instead of just one. It is also fun when you have a longstanding team rivalry and can provide past photos for the two teams quickly.
9. Don’t Forget Coaches and Refs
Some of my favorite photos are of coaches and referees doing their thing. Coaches hold a special place in hearts of players – you don’t want to miss opportunities to include them in the season’s photo collection.
I also recommend including referees – they seriously add so much to the game. It is also great to get both the coach and referee in a shot that shows the tension of the game:
I must confess I have a keyword called “Refs” and when games get particularly stressful because of lots of bad calls, I photograph the refs making them. Honestly it is a coping mechanism. I call it my game therapy because taking a photo of the ref is much better than yelling at the ref or running on the court to tell him where to go… but I digress.
10. Export to Share
The final step of this workflow happens at the end of the season. Filter to a player, press CTRL/CMD +A to select all the photos and then choose File > Export then export to a file folder on your desktop named for each individual player. When finished with all the players’ individual folders, filter down to photos by game and export to individual folders for each game. Finally, burn photos for each player including their individual folder and the game folders. It really is that simple.
I also usually create a coaches book which includes layouts for each player and letters to the coaches – without this workflow it wouldn’t be possible – but I’ll save the how-to on that for another post.
Whew! That’s a lot of info in one post but hopefully it is helpful. Now I’m running off to get packed! Any suggestions on locations for great photos in Vegas? I’m all ears!