5 mistakes not to make when using extreme sports photos

4 minute read

Photography is an art. It is difficult to criticize the work of a photographer, since the quality of an image is relative depending on who looks at it.

However, in the world of extreme sports, it is a bit more tricky and there are some basic rules to respect. If you’re using extreme sports photos in a commercial setting, don’t always rely on what you can find on royalty-free image websites.

To know the mistakes to avoid, tribu talked with experienced photographers; Dan Mathieu, founder of Exposé mag magazine and legend of the Canadian skateboarding scene, as well as Jérémie Perreault, our valiant photographer and content creator at Tribu!

Here are, according to our experts, 5 mistakes to avoid in the world of extreme sports photography.

1 – Sky photo

This is clearly the most common mistake. Whether it’s snowboarding, motocross, biking or skateboarding, you’ve already seen a picture of a manoeuvre in the sky. It can give excellent artistic pictures, like this one for example:

Photo : Unsplash / Web Donut

But the reality is that this type of photo would never find its way into a specialized magazine, since we have no spatio-temporal references. We need to know where the athlete is coming from, what module he or she is on and where he or she is falling from in order to fully understand the complexity of the manoeuvre. Other examples include:

2 – Bad timing

A photographer used to capturing images of traditional sports often has difficulty understanding the specifics of an extreme sports trick, especially skateboarding. The precise moment when a trick is successful is THE key moment we want to photograph.

Dan Mathieu gives us a precise example with these three pictures of Pierre-Yves Frappier performing a kickflip in Portugal.

For a neophyte, the first two pictures may look very good. But the third photo captures the precise moment when the skateboarder catches his board with his back foot. Timing is everything.

3 – Photo of a missed trick

If there’s no chance that the rider will land on his board, the picture’s no good. If the athlete is off-balance, the picture is no good. The picture may look more spectacular to the photographer who is unfamiliar with the sport in question, but hardcore fans know from seeing the picture whether the manoeuvre was successful or not.

Seb Lucas – BS 360
Photo : Jérémie Perreault

4 – Angle and framing

When an athlete is performing on a very large module, such as a ramp or stairs, some photographers may be tempted to make the manoeuvre even more impressive by taking the picture from an exaggerated angle.

Also, avoid close-up photos on the board or bike. Body position and context are extremely important. For example, this picture found on Unsplash: the framing does not allow to see the whole body of the skateboarder and the maneuver is not yet started. This is the kind of photo that should not be used to be taken seriously by enthusiasts.

Photo : Unsplash / Hello I’m Nik

5 – Not having the right settings

In the sports world, things move fast. In the world of extreme sports, things move fast and the most spectacular tricks are often the most dangerous.

This means that they are rarely executed and the photographer in charge of capturing the moment will not be given a dozen chances.

Before starting the session, the photographer must make sure he has tested his camera and made the right adjustments: shutter speed, angle, brightness.

The most important thing is to have done all the necessary tests so that when the athlete succeeds in his trick, the photographer also succeeds in his photo.

See how Yann Roy found the perfect balance in this photo at our JACKALOPE event in 2019

Photo : Yann Roy

As you can see, the world of extreme sport photography is a very distinct universe. Even if the web is full of free photos, you sometimes have to be careful, since using the wrong image could have the opposite effect than expected.

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