Sports photography can be a very exciting and rewarding field to get into, but above all, it is still a job and a profession. While it may sound like a good deal of fun to be at the game and on the sideline every time a team is on the field or court, there are duties that must be performed. The best way to get started in sports photography is to prove you understand those demands and show how you can meet them.
There are a number of ways to get started in sports photography. The best way involves either finding a newspaper or a sports team that needs, or would like, some additional photos. In most cases, this is likely to be a high school team, but there may be some semi-professional teams, or even minor league teams, that would appreciate another photographer. These initial jobs will likely pay minimally, or even not at all. The one thing they will do is provide valuable experience and clips for your portfolio.
In most cases, finding a major paper to volunteer for may be difficult. Most would like to see samples of work, even for those who are volunteering. When a freelance photographer is on assignment, he or she is still representing the newspaper. Therefore, those who are beginning in sports photography may wish to consider a weekly paper or some other sort of community newspaper. In most cases, these newspapers will be more than happy to let you share your talents with them. While this is far from being a professional photographer, this sort of photojournalism can help get you started.
The important thing, at this point, is to try to get as much exposure as possible in the sports photography arena. This includes shooting photos of multiple sports under multiple conditions. This will help to prove how versatile of a photographer you can be. If possible, also try to remember that shooting with digital and film may be an important aspect as well. If not, shoot with a digital camera only, as this is the way the industry is going.
Once the clips have been established, keep trying to always network and work your way through the system. Once those connections are made, there may be opportunity to move up from time to time. However, without a substantial amount of networking, those chances will be very rare. In the end, patience is the key to getting a good start in sports photography. If the talent is there, the opportunity will be present as well.