When I began sketching out ideas for my collaboration with The Little Gym, I thought a post with photo tips would be the perfect way to pair Miss Freddy’s forte with TLG’s classes. Except, as it turns out… taking pictures of gymnasts is NOT easy! Photographing kids is WHAT I DO and it was still a struggle! There’s so much action. Tons of movement. Tough indoor lighting. And all kinds of distracting elements. But, after a bit of practice, I came up with seven simple tips for photographing gymnasts to help make the job a little easier!
seven simple tips for photographing gymnasts
TIP #1: GET LOW
For the photo on the left, I was standing next to the balance beam, shooting straight at the subject. However, for the photo on the right, I stepped to the left and crouched on the mat. Getting low to the ground adds more of a story to the photo- it’s much more impressive when you can see how high she is balancing off the ground!
TIP #2: PLACE AN OBJECT IN THE FOREGROUND
These next two photos were taken in *almost* the same position, while the gymnasts were lined up to start their routine. But in the photo on the right, I got even lower to the ground (tip #1!) and positioned myself slightly behind a mat. I kept the focus on the gymnast, which blurred the mat in the foreground, but ultimately makes the photo more interesting. In this position you can also see the parents watching the class, which adds to the story.
TIP #3: USE THE FLOOR FOR CONTEXT
It’s tempting to zoom in on your gymnast to better capture their expression, but remember that the ground adds important context for their actions. For example, in the photo on the right, you can better understand that she’s on the high bar. [see photo tip #1 for another example!]
TIP #4: CONVERT TO BLACK & WHITE
Gyms are colorful. There’s usually a lot going on in the background. Converting a photo to black & white can really emphasize the emotion of the moment by drawing your attention to the gymnast instead of the brightest color.
TIP #5: TAKE BOTH POSED & CANDID PHOTOS
Candid moments are easier to photograph in a gym setting, but (if allowed), go ahead and ask your gymnast to look at the camera & smile while they’re in their element.
TIP #6: EXPERIMENT WITH MOTION
Don’t be afraid to play with your shutter speed to show motion. In the photo on the left, I used a slow shutter which allowed her foot to blur and helps to tell the story. The photo on the right has a higher shutter speed which froze her motion. An easy way to experiment with shutter speed is to put your DSLR into ‘shutter mode’ (flip the toggle to Tv on a Canon, S on a Nikon/Sony). The slower the shutter speed, the more blur in your image. This can be difficult with how quickly the gymnasts are moving, but play around with various speeds and see what you capture!
TIP #7: TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS
This may be the most important tip of all! While photographing a gymnast, you’ll inevitably freeze their motion in all kinds of random/strange/awkward positions. The more photos you have, the more likely you’ll capture the ‘perfect’ moment. Turns out ‘practice makes progress’ is true for gymnastics AND your photography!
The Little Gym is a motor skill development/gymnastics program for ages 4 months-12 years old. They use age-appropriate gym equipment and activities to develop motor skills, social skills and cognitive skills in a non-competitive, loving, no pressure environment. Sign up for your FREE INTRODUCTORY CLASS! And become a fan of The Little Gym of West Seattle on Facebook!