Fridays I usually post about food, but I’m going to switch it up today… Tomorrow marks the end of the swim season for my children’s summer swim team. I have been the “team photographer” since the first year – snapping away with my little point and shoot. Since 2006, I have gotten better at taking the photos and also editing them. And yes, I’ve gotten better camera gear, allowing me to take photos I couldn’t with my point and shoot. But, even in the beginning, I got complements on my photos.
The picture above is one from the 2007 Divisional meet, taken with a Sony point-n-shoot. Back then, I used to try to catch the dives, pre-focusing on the swimmer standing on the block by pushing the shutter button half-way down and then moving as the buzzer went off to try to catch the dive in the frame. I got pretty good at it, but the reason people thought I took good photos back then is pretty much the same reason they think I take good photos now. Good technique and composition help get good photos, but the most important thing is to be a good editor of your images. By that I mean, taking lots of photos and only showing your best. At a typical three hour swim meet I take 400-500 photos. After the meet, I enjoy the cool of the basement while I go through those 500 images. Checking focus and picking the best compositions takes me several hours after each meet. After choosing the “Selects” I edit them as quickly as I can, adjusting white balance, exposure, contrast, and sometimes crop. From 500 images, I typically end up with 60 images I show the world, and occasionally get one or two like the one below of my son, which are good enough for stock:
I guess my point is, good photos don’t just happen, it takes some work.
Why do I spend this time? Well, I just enjoy it. It makes the meets go much faster than if I were just standing there watching. It’s kind of like playing Pac-Man trying to catch those fast swimmers when they pop out of the water. And, every year there are new young swimmers who join the team (probably wondering who the crazy lady running around with the camera is), and every year I take their photos and try to learn their names. After awhile some of them see the photos I take and they thank me, or ask me if I can try to get some of them at this meet. The best “Thank You” I got was this year, when one of the dads thanked me on Facebook for taking photos of his kids… I didn’t know it, but he’s in Afghanistan and doesn’t get to see his kids swim. That made my day!
Above are some of the great kids I’ve taken photos of and been able to use in my portfolio for iStockphoto. If you’d like to see the rest, check out my swimming lightbox.
Have a great weekend!