How To Photograph Winter Sport

19 November 2014 / 09:40

We caught up with a Getty photographer, Alex Livesey, to find out how you can capture all your winter sport snaps. Alex has been a sports photographer for over 20 years, taking photos at many Winter and Summer Olympics. Plus, his photos were used as the post stamps of the London 2012  gold medalists.

Now, let’s start with some beginners tips.

Team GB Sochi


What time of day is best to shoot?

Beginning or end of the day is generally best when the light is less harsh and the sun is lower in the sky you get more contrast in the images.



Flash or no flash

It depends what kind of shot you’re after. For general action pictures during the day it’s not necessary to use flash. Using flash just gives you more exposure problems.

The great thing about snow is that it acts as one big reflector and will bounce light back on to your subject.



What mode is best for a beginner?


On point and shoot cameras and also some SLR’s you can find lots of different shooting modes which can help with exposing the shot correctly.

There will probably be a function for snow indicated with a logo such as a snowman or snowflake. If you’re inexperienced at exposing the camera manually these automatic settings should help with getting your exposures somewhere near correct.


What advice would you give to a beginners just starting out?


Buy a rucksack camera bag to carry your gear. It’s hard working in the snow and if you’re either ski-in or walking this makes life a lot easier.  And remember don’t carry anymore gear than you need.

Wrap up warm. You may spend a lot of time standing still which means sometimes getting cold very quickly.

Bare hands on cold camera equipment are not a good combination. Use gloves as much as possible; there are some really good thin insulated gloves out there which will mean you can still handle the camera well.


Now we got the basics out the way, how can we capture the shots?



How do you take the best action shot?

Getting the best background to your pictures is important.

There’s a lot of white stuff on the slopes and this can lead to too much bright white going on in your shots.

For sports like skiing, look for a darker background like a tree line or even the blue sky. This will give your shots better contrast and make the subject stand out more.

Blue sky is ideal for sports such as snowboarding where the athletes get air time.

Try shooting back light so the sun is coming from behind the subject. This will give a darker background and the subject will still be well lit from the reflected light off the snow.


Team GB Bobsliegh


How can you get creative with shoots?

The great thing about winter sports, especially on snow, is that anything goes and you can get as creative as you want.

Generally the scenery is amazing, which is a great starting point, and the light can also be incredible up on the slopes.

Shooting sports such as snowboarding, which you can get very close to, means you can use all sorts of lenses all the way down to a fisheye lens to give crazy or dramatic results.



What are the best sports to photograph?

Depends what gear you have access to.

If you intend to shoot competition skiing you will need a very long lens. This can be a dangerous sport to shoot. If a skier loses it during a downhill race for instance you don’t want to be too close it could be messy, this is why you will be kept far away from the gates.

Slalom skiing will be easier to get close to as the course is more compact and the skiers can stop quickly.

Sports like snowboarding or aerials are great for getting close to so it’s not necessary to have long lenses. Wide angle lenses in this case can make the best pictures. Plus it’s easier to see where the best action will happen on these courses.



What are the most difficult sports to shoot?

Anything high speed is tough to shoot. Downhill skiing, bobsleigh and skeleton are quick and you will need to shoot a fast shutter speed here if you intend to freeze the subject.