As with any type of sports photography, skating photography requires being familiar with the subject as well as knowing what type of lens and camera settings you need for high-quality photos. That inside knowledge will not only help you predict how a skater might move but it will also help you find the best possible position for snap stunning photos.

In this post, we’ll cover what skating photography is and share tips that will help you get started in this photography niche as well as outline specific camera settings.

What Is Skating Photography?

Skating photography is a term broadly used to describe several types of photography. This includes:

  • Ice skating and figure skating photography
  • Speed skating
  • Skateboarding

As you can see, it can be a highly seasonal type of photography. Ice skating, figure skating, and speed skating will usually be the primary type of skating photography taken in winter while skateboarding photos will typically be taken during spring and summer.

Sarah Hecken – Skater — Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Tips for Get Started With Skating Photography

Getting started with skating photography is not as difficult as it seems. As always, you’ll need an appropriate lens as well as a memory card with plenty of storage space. After all, the last thing you want to have happen is to run out of room to store all those shots. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind.

Man and woman figure skating — Image by Wikimedia Images from Pixabay

Ice Skating and Figure Skating Photography Tips

When it comes to ice skating and figure skating photography, it’s important to keep these tips in mind:

  • Skating clubs are not well lit. On top of that, the use of flash is often forbidden as sudden light could distract the skaters and result in a serious injury. As such, having a camera with a very fast shutter is crucial.
  • Another tip to keep in mind is to use a tripod to help you stabilize the camera and eliminate the possibility of shaky photos.
  • Familiarize yourself with the venue. If at all possible, go explore the venue the day before you’re scheduled to take photos. This will allow you to come prepared and know where you need to position yourself for the best angle on the photos.
  • Avoid focusing solely on jumps and spins and try to get photos of tranquil poses to capture the skater’s face. This will make your photos more interesting and allow for the skater’s emotion to shine through.
  • Use higher ISO settings to compensate for poor lighting conditions.
  • Avoid overexposing the ice and try to capture some of the lines made in the ice by the skater’s blades. This will add interesting textures to the image.

Speed Skating Photography Tips

Speed skating refers to high-speed racing on ice with long blades. Thanks to these long blades, skaters can lean far into the corners and apply more power to the ice which then results in a longer push.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to speed skating photography:

  • As with ice skating, you will be shooting in poor lighting conditions. Be prepared to use a fast shutter speed and higher ISO settings as this will allow you to compensate for lack of light
  • Consider shooting in JPEG format as this will allow you to capture more photos than shooting in RAW. If quality is more important, then shoot in RAW format.
  • If possible, try to shoot from different angles and positions to have a variety of photos. You can also include photos of prep-time instead of focusing solely on time spent on ice.
  • Allow for negative space in the photo as this will help you bring more attention to the subject of the photo. You can also try blurring out the audience to emphasize the skaters.
  • Consider talking to the referee in charge and ask his approval to be close to the skaters. This will give you plenty of opportunity to capture the action, just be sure not to distract the skaters.

Skateboarding photography tips

Taking quality skateboarding photos is tricky but not impossible. The most important tip to remember is that you’ll have to get creative with how you take photos.

Man in midair with skateboard — Photo by Zami from Pexels

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Composition matters a lot. Your photo needs to make it obvious what the obstacle is, where the skater took off and where they will land.
  • Try using ladders or laying on the ground to capture the skater in the air so you can have an uncluttered background. As with ice skating and speed skating photography, don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles.
  • If you need to crop an image, try to make the background or the obstacles appear larger than the skater.
  • Make your images more interesting by incorporating lines or any other geometric shape naturally present in the image.
  • This is another type of photography where a fast shutter speed will be necessary as skaters will move fast.
  • Get involved in the skater community you want to photograph and ask them to pose for your photos.
  • Learn to work with shadows and use them to your advantage in the photos.

Camera Settings For Skating Photography

Now that we’ve covered the basic tips for each type of skating photography, let’s go over recommended camera settings. Before we dive into tips, keep in mind that you don’t have to run out and buy a whole new lens and camera if your current setup can handle the settings below.

  • For ice skating, figure skating, and speed skating, consider using a telephoto lens with a focal length between 135 and 300mm.
  • For skateboarding photography, a wide angle lens will allow you to capture the whole scene.
  • As mentioned earlier, higher ISO settings are a must for ice skating and speed skating photography. Use at least 1600 and don’t be afraid to go up to 3200. This also applies to skateboarding photography because you can’t freeze the skater otherwise.
  • Whether you’re shooting ice skating, speed skating or skateboarding, fast shutter speeds are a must. Use a shutter speed of at least 1/400s up to 1/1000s.
  • When it comes to aperture, the recommended setting is f-stop or aperture of f/4 for any type of skating photography.
  • For any type of skating done on ice, keep the white balance set to auto. This will help capture the ice without it appearing grey or glass-like. Remember that you can fine-tune the white balance during post-processing.

Final Thoughts

No matter what kind of skating photography you’re involved in, there is no doubt that it’s a fun and dynamic type of photography as well as a work of art. Use the tips in this article to help you capture awesome skating moments and take your skating photography to the next level.