Stuff's Guide to Photography: How to take better sports photos

Find out how to pan, flash and freeze frame your way to action snapping glory...

You can bluff your way through a lot of photography, but with sport, both your tech and your technique have to put in a great performance to get the best results.

That's why we tracked down legendary mountain biking photographer Seb Rogers during one of his rare moments in between races and asked him for his best action photography tips. Here are his nuggets of wisdom...


1. Rope in a willing volunteer to ride a bike (bikes work well for this because they can be ridden at a consistent speed). Ask them to ride past you on, for example, a path and keep the speed the same every time.

2. Start with a high shutter speed – say 1/500 sec – and practice getting a well-centred shot of bike and rider at the same spot for each shot. Take just one shot for each pass – don't use burst mode.

3. Once you've got the composition and timing consistent, drop the shutter speed and see how low you can go while still keeping bike and rider sharp. With practice even speeds as low as 1/15sec can give good results.

Level Up With...

The Book

In The Moment: The Sports Photography of Tom Jenkins / £30

Tom Jenkins is one of the most experienced pro sports photographers around, having spent the past two decades travelling the world to shoot international events for his clients. Combining an eye for creative composition with bullet-proof technique, the images in his book should provide inspiration for any budding sports photographer.

The Website

Dave Black Photography

Many pro photographers keep their techniques a closely-guarded secret, but Dave Black's website is packed full of useful hints and tips. He's an expert on remote flash photography – among many other things – and his eye for detail and impeccable timing mean you'll never be short of ideas for improving your sports photography.

The Workshop

Sports Photography School 

Pro sports photographer Mark Pain runs occasional courses for budding action snappers. Aimed at getting you in close to the action – right where the pros normally are – the carefully selected events are a chance for photographers with some previous experience to hone their skills under the guidance of a pro.

All photos: Seb Rogers