Rob Sambles Photography | Football Photography Workflow

Football Photography Workflow

April 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

It's been a while since I updated the blog and my apologies for that. I've had a few emails asking when the next post will be and it's really flattering to see. It's nice to think that these posts might be interesting to someone or help someone out!

My football work has drawn some interest recently and it tends to be the topic of some of the questions I've had come through via emails and twitter.

One particular question was regarding my workflow and how I shoot a game when I have a tight deadline or want to get photos sent out quickly. I decided to make that the subject of this post. I shot a game recently for Fulham at Craven Cottage, at this particular game the U21 side were playing in the first team stadium so the club wanted to run a live blog on the website. The requirement was for me to send some images at halftime and then at the end of the game, the quicker the better!

Here's my typical workflow for a football game:

I hadn't shot a game at Craven Cottage before, so I wanted to get these nice and early to make sure I could setup and familiarise myself with my surroundings. Even when I'm at a venue I shoot regularly, I'll still aim to get there a good hour before the event, on this occasion I arrived a little under two hours prior to kickoff.

I found the media/press entrance and a guy there showed me to the photographers room.

It sounds quite fancy, but, as is often the case with this type of thing, the inside of the room was fairly straight forward.

I found my spot and setup my gear. I also got my laptop out and ready too and connected to Wi-Fi. I would be leaving the laptop here for the game, so it was locked to the counter (as can be seen with steel cable running under the bench). I got out my lenses, bodies, monopod etc and made sure I was set and ready to go.

I also made a point of utilising the 'refreshment counter':

By this time I was keen to get out into the stadium itself and assess shooting positions and set my exposure. I wandered out onto pitchside, fortunately at the U21's games, there don't tend to be more than a couple of photographers so I have a bit of flexibility on where I can sit. I chose to be on the end of the pitch near the corner (my preferred location) with Fulham attacking my end. I then switched ends at halftime. I got on my bib (the club provided me with one of theirs and required me to wear it whilst pitchside) and I headed out.


When I'm shooting under floodlights, I always shoot in manual mode because the lighting is constant. I can set my exposure before the game and then I just forget about it and crack on with shooting images.

Here's another couple of shots of my setup and location:

For those wondering, I had my 7d on the monopod with my Sigma 100-300 f4 attached. I then had the 7d2 with the 70-200 f2.8 IS ii.

As soon as the halftime whistle went, I was up and began a brisk walk back to the media room ready to send some images.

This is the main part of the workflow in order to get the images out asap:

Firstly, I have the laptop all setup and ready to go, this is something that I do before the game, sometime even before I go to the venue. I will have Lightroom open and running before I get there.

I whip out the memory card from my camera and plug it into my card reader (a Lexar Professional USB 3.0 reader for the gear geeks out there!). I then go to Lightroom and open the import function. It then gives me the option to import images direct from the memory card. I 'uncheck' all the images and I scan through quick as I can to select the 5-6 images that I think are the ones to choose, re-checking those as I go.

I then import. I already have my import preset so that it applys my metadata, copyright info and usage policy etc, my preset also makes the standard processing points that I use as a base (+10 contrast, +5 clarity, -3 blacks, +3 whites and a little noise reduction). These are just the basics, I still process each image individually too.

After import I flick through the images one at a time, checking white balance, exposure and adding a little colour, vibrance, noise reduction etc where necessary. I also tend to crop the images a bit.

It's then time to export. For this type of job, I export straight to email. I have the preset setup for the images already. I'll have the file naming preset and image size etc all setup and ready to go. I also have the email address of my clients in the contacts. I always blind copy myself on the emails when I export to email so that I know its been sent, I had an experience once where I thought it had sent when it hadn't!

I'm then done and ready for the second half. The whole process from walking in at halftime to sending should be less than 10 minutes. I've done it under 5 before. That probably sounds quick to a lot of people, but I need to get it down quicker. I'm going to shorten the workflow soon by introducing auto-ingest of the images I want (determined by me locking them in camera) from the card to the laptop (hopefully using an app that I've been reading up on) and then from the hard drive into Lightroom using a 'watched' folder. This will be even more important when I'm sending images throughout the game from pitchside, not something which I have much requirement for just now, but I do on occasion.

I think that's about it!

As always, thanks for reading. If you do have questions then please don't hesitate to get in touch. Also, if you have ideas for other topics for blog posts that you would like to see, then please comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading!






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