I've been photographing basketball seriously for nearly two years now. During that time I've tried pretty much every shooting position and angle from all around the court.
I've developed my favourite positions and I've also got a few 'different' things that I like to try.
Firstly let's talk about the right height to shoot from, it's often something that's overlooked and I actually see a lot of other photographers at basketball games in the BBL who will stand up to photograph the game, I think they're missing a trick. I always sit at floor level, I have a seat back which you may have seen in my video, here it is:
Apologies for the poor quality picture, I snapped this on my iphone at a game.
This seat back keeps me where I want to be whilst taking care of my back. For me being at this height enables me to take shots where I'm looking up slightly at the players. I'm not low enough that it creates a strange perspective, but just low enough to create a bigger illusion of being there in the action. I felt like my basketball shots improved dramatically as soon as I learnt to sit down!
The next thing would be the position to shoot from, now I should start by saying there isn't really a bad position so long as you are right there on the side line. I've got some really great shots from the sides of the courts, the baselines, under the basket, all around the court. My favourite place though is definitely on the baseline. Being on the end line enables you to get shots of the players coming straight towards you, for me great sports images have players faces in them and (in most cases) have the ball in the shot. I find that the endline makes it easier to capture both.
I've included a diagram here of a court, the blue line marks the area that I tend to shoot from, the red dot marks my favourite spot, I do tend to move up and down a little bit, but if I had to choose, I would be on that red dot.
Here's a shot I snapped on my iphone whilst sitting in that very spot at a game this weekend.
I've included another shot here with my seat marking my favourite spot to shoot from.
You may wonder why I choose that side of the basket, the one main reason is that I'm playing the odds, most players are right handed and that means when they drive to the basket, they will typically open up their bodies facing towards me for the best shots.
A lot of basketball photographers will tell you that they prefer to be as close to the basket as possible and will wedge themselves right up against the basket anchor unit. This one is just a personal preference for me, I like to get some of the basket in a lot of my shots, I find if I'm that little bit further out, I can see the rim without the backboard getting in the way.
I do also try some different positions that break all of my general rules, something I've been trying recently is to get right in low under the basket and using a wider angle. It creates some dynamic images with a different look.
I often setup a remote camera on a small floor tripod for this so I can get it really low, it also means I can get the camera right in there by the action in a place that I couldn't sit myself. If you're going to try this, make sure your gear is insured, it's only a matter of time before my camera gets hit by a ball or even a player.
On that note, please make sure you have insurance if you're going to be shooting anywhere on that baseline. It puts you into a position where you could get hit by a ball or you may have a player coming flying out of bounds towards you (I got wiped out twice last season). Fortunately neither the player, nor me were injured on either occasion, but if one of us had been, my insurance would have come in handy.
Anyway, I hope you guys find some of this useful, good luck shooting some basketball, as always questions are welcome in the comments section below. I will close by saying that these are my favourite positions, others will have varied opinions, don't take my word for it, get out there and develop some favourites of your own!