Sports Photography Education

Sports photographers work in a number of different industries and perform a variety of services with the images they capture. While no specific program for the field exists, you can often learn the essential from a general photography program. Read on to learn more about these programs, common course topics, the tools you'll need and career prospects. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Programs Are Available in Sports Photography?

The extent of the education needed for a sports photography career depends upon your goals. Good technical abilities and knowledge of photo equipment are a must, but holding a degree in photography can enhance your job prospects. Degrees specifically in sports photography aren't typically available, but general photography programs may offer elective courses on capturing sporting events. Additionally, universities' extension departments may offer courses or short programs on sports photography. Such courses cover various topics and techniques, including camera holding, lighting and shot composition.

Programs Available Elective courses in general photography programs
Common Courses Sports photography, lighting, developing, digital imaging
Equipment Required Not mandatory, but a good camera and photo development materials would be useful
Career Opportunities Assistant photographer, professional photographer

What Courses Will I Take in a Photography Degree Program?

Bachelor's degrees in photography give you a comprehensive education on the technical sides of the art form, as well as offering courses in art, business, marketing and other subjects to help you round out your education. A portfolio, which is often required for graduation, is another benefit of a bachelor's degree program, since you'll be able to use it to show potential employers. It may be particularly beneficial to build your portfolio by taking photos at your school's sporting events. Typical course subjects at a university will include the following:

  • Digital photography
  • Digital imaging
  • Sports photography
  • Lighting
  • Developing
  • History of photography

Obtaining practical work experience while enrolled in school can also help you prepare for professional work in this field. In addition to internships and related summer jobs, school newspapers, magazines, newsletters, yearbooks and clubs can provide opportunities to have your photographs published or displayed.

What Kind of Equipment Will I Need?

Equipment can be a large expense, since you'll need a good quality camera to take the photos, along with the equipment to develop and print your photos. While employers and some schools provide access to photography equipment, photographers typically obtain their own equipment in order to practice and familiarize themselves with the tools of this field. Cameras come in many different types, so researching cameras and tools beforehand is important prior to committing to a purchase. You'll also need to experiment with both film and digital cameras to decide which medium is right for you. Additional tools, like tripods, lens filters and photo editing software programs, can assist with taking pictures.

What Is the Career Outlook?

After finishing school with a good educational foundation, photographers can enter into the workforce and continue learning from employers and other professionals. Starting off as an assistant to a professional photographer allows one to pick up skills and tricks and to develop work skills. Working conditions for photographers vary considerably. Some photographers may have regular schedules, working the typical five days a week. Other photographers, however, often work long, irregular hours and must be available to work on short notice. Many photographers work part time or on variable schedules. As of May 2015, the middle half of photographers nationwide earned a median annual salary between $22,600 and $48,600, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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