Have you always had a passion for sports and photography? Do you love capturing those intense moments of athleticism and competition? If so, sports photography may be the perfect career for you.
But how do you break into this competitive field? Where do you even begin searching for sports photography jobs?
Applying for sports photography gigs isn’t always straightforward. Unlike other photography specialties, there aren’t as many job boards or listings dedicated solely to sports. You often have to dig deeper and get more creative in your search.
The good news is, with the right strategy you can absolutely land the sports photography jobs you want. In this post, We’ll share best tips on how to apply for sports photography jobs online and top companies hiring sports photographer
How to Apply for Sports Photography Jobs Online
Here are some tips for applying for sports photography jobs online:
- Update your photography portfolio website – Select your best 10-20 sports photos that demonstrate your skills and creative vision. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and view your photos.
- Search job boards – Check sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and professional photography job boards for open sports photographer positions. Look for listings at major sports teams/leagues, colleges, newspapers, and more.
- Leverage social media – Follow teams, athletes, sports brands etc. and connect with their photographers on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Comment on their posts, engage with them, and make them aware of you and your work.
- Look for freelance opportunities – Sports teams and leagues often need freelance photographers for specific events or a short project. Search online job boards and reach out to local teams. Building up your freelance portfolio can lead to bigger opportunities.
- Apply directly on team/company websites – Check the careers page on team or sports company websites. Often you can submit your portfolio directly via an online application process.
- Email prospective clients – Use your existing contacts and do research to find email addresses of those responsible for hiring photographers. Email them directly, include links to your website, and ask about any openings.
- Attend local sports events – Get press credentials or simply attend events with your camera. This can help you network and meet people in the industry who may need photographers.
- Leverage connections & references – Ask photography colleagues, friends in the sports world, or former clients to refer or recommend you for any sports photography roles.
Top Companies Hiring Sports Photographers
Here are some top companies and organizations that frequently hire sports photographers:
- Major sports leagues – NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA Tour, ATP/WTA Tours, NASCAR, etc. Each league or tournament employs photographers directly or contracts freelancers.
- College athletic programs – Major colleges and universities hire photographers to shoot their sports teams. Check university employment websites.
- Newspapers and media outlets – Newspapers, magazines, websites like ESPN, Bleacher Report etc. employ photographers for pro/college game coverage.
- Individual professional teams – Pro teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees have in-house photography staffs. Their websites have job listings.
- Wire services – Getty Images, USA Today Sports, Associated Press – they hire photographers around the country to contribute images.
- Equipment brands – Nikon, Canon, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour often sponsor or employ sports photographers for their gear or sponsored athletes.
- Stock agencies – Shutterstock, Getty Images, iStock – becoming a contributor allows you to sell your sports images.
- Freelance clients – Individual athletes, coaches, sports brands may contract freelance photographers for specific projects.
- Local teams and events – High school sports, minor league baseball, marathons etc. often utilize freelance photographers.
- Photography/talent agencies – Some agencies like Getty represent photographers and connect them with clients.
Sports Photographer Salary
Here are some typical salary ranges for sports photographers in the United States:
- Staff Photographer for Pro Sports Team: $45,000 – $85,000
- Staff Photographer for College Athletics: $35,000 – $60,000
- Newspaper/Media Company Staff: $30,000 – $75,000
- Freelance Sports Photographer: $30,000 – $100,000+
Is There a Career in Sports Photography?
Yes, there are a few potential career paths in sports photography:
- Staff photographer for a pro sports team or college athletic program. These are coveted full-time jobs that provide stable income and access to shoot major games/events.
- Newspaper, magazine or digital media staff photographer. Work on staff to cover local, college and pro sports in your area. Freelance on the side too.
- Freelance sports photographer. Build up clients like wire services, individual athletes/teams, sports brands. Freelance allows flexibility but less stability.
- Contributor to stock agencies like Getty Images or Shutterstock. They license your sports images to publishers and companies. Requires large portfolio.
- Photo editor for a sports publication or media company. Curation, editing and management rather than shooting.
- Sports content creator for social media and digital platforms. Provide real-time photography/video content on platforms.
- Sports photography educator. Teach classes or workshops on sports photography.
Do Sports Photographers Make Good Money?
The top sports photographers covering high-profile professional leagues and events can earn over $100,000 annually through salaries, licensing fees, and corporate work. However, many entry-level and non-elite sports photographers earn more modest salaries between $30,000-$60,000 per year as they establish their careers.
How do I Start Sports Photography?
Here are some tips to help you get started in sports photography:
- Get a DSLR camera and a telephoto zoom lens in the 70-200mm range. Also useful are wide angle and fixed focal length lenses for versatility.
- Learn how to use shutter priority and manual modes on your camera to freeze action with fast shutter speeds. Learn to pan and use slower speeds to convey motion.
- Start by practicing at local youth, high school, or college sports events. This will help you hone your skills.
- Invest in accessories like a monopod or tripod to stabilize the camera and teleconverters to boost your zoom.
- Learn post-processing skills to select, edit, and enhance your best sports images. Programs like Lightroom are very useful.
- Study sports photography masters to understand composition, anticipation, and lighting techniques.
- Network with local teams and newspapers to potentially get press credentials or access to shoot games.
- Build a portfolio website showcasing your best sports images to attract potential clients.
- Market yourself on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter to get your work noticed.
- Consider volunteering as a team photographer to gain experience and make connections.
- Pursue a combination of staff and freelance opportunities as you build your skills in the industry.
What Degree do I Need for Sports Photography?
While a degree is not always required, aspiring sports photographers often pursue photojournalism, photography, or multimedia degrees to develop technical skills and a portfolio. However, equal importance is gaining hands-on experience shooting real-world sporting events and making connections in the industry.
Applying for sports photography jobs requires hard work, persistence, and creativity. But the payoff for landing one of these competitive roles can be huge. You get to blend your artistic talent with your love of sports while capturing iconic moments of athleticism.
By tapping into job boards, sports organizations, media outlets, and local venues you can find openings at any level. Build a portfolio that truly showcases your skills in composing, editing, and shooting live sports action. Avoid common mistakes like typos and weak references.