About the Job Title "Sports photographer"

Sports photographer Job Description

A sports photographer, who may work for newspapers, magazines, websites or photo stock agencies, is responsible for taking fast action photographs of athletes at sporting events. Sports photographers do not need a college education but many take classes that teach them the specific skills and techniques needed.

Sports photographer Job Profiles: This is a general writeup based on our research into Sports photographer positions in the Photographer career area. For individual, real-life job profiles of actual people with this type of job, check out our job profiles page.

What's it like to be a Sports photographer?

Duties and responsibilities

A sports photographer is a photographer who is responsible for taking fast action photographs of athletes at sporting events. Sports photographers can work for newspapers, magazines, websites and photo stock agencies and their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing and planning the composition of photographs, this includes planning and researching where they stand to get the best action shot
  • Using photographic techniques and lighting equipment to ensure that they take professional-quality photographs
  • Using photo-enhancing software, such as photoshop, to touch up photographs
  • Maintaining a detailed digital portfolio to demonstrate their work and skill
  • Liaising with other professionals, including graphic designers, writers, gallery managers, picture researchers, commissioning editors and art directors
  • Managing the processing and use of images, checking for quality and dealing with clients’ concerns
  • Compiling finished products for sale, such as albums and framed prints


To become a sports photographer, you do not need a college degree. However, many sports photographers will take classes that teach them the specific skills and techniques needed to take the specific shots the sports photographers do.

As the industry has become vastly more competitive and popular in recent years due to the development in technology, some sports photographers may decide to get a college degree in photography as this gives the skills and experience to stand out from others.

Skills and relevant work experience

To become a sports photographer, you will need a knowledge of sports to ensure you know exactly what moment to capture. As well as this, you will also need skills such as:

  • Interpersonal skills are essential to communicate as sports photographers will have to communicate with clients and with athletes to ensure they produce the desired result
  • Attention to detail is key as sports photographers must focus on every small detail, such as lighting or positioning, to create compelling images. Attention to detail is also important as sports photographers have to take action shots of fast movement and must capture each movement
  • Computer skills are essential as sports photographers are responsible for their own postproduction work and therefore must be able to use photo-editing software
  • Business skills will also be very beneficial as sports photographers are often self-employed and will therefore have to run and coordinate their own business


As sports photographers are often freelance, they are in control of their own hours and schedule. However, many sporting events occur on weekends, in the evenings and only in specific location, meaning that sports photographers may have to work antisocial hours and travel far.


According to salary expert, the average salary for a sports photographer in the United States is $59,413 per year, with those in more senior position earning an average of $72,894.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of self-employed photographers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028. Sports photographers can begin by starting their career in low-level sports, and can then progress to photograph more advanced athletes.

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