World Cup Photography: Capturing the Most Iconic Soccer Moments

With so many advancements in the world of digital technology, there are so many ways to capture great photographs, even fast-paced sports photos. Right now, with World Cup Fever, comes a bombardment of action-packed shots capturing some of the greatest moments in soccer. How do you get your images noticed in this tight competition? Watch as CNN Digital’s director of photography, Simon Barnett, explains how to be a successful sports photographer:

As the action heats up in Brazil during the World Cup, the amount of soccer photos being sent to CNN Digital is excessive. Barnett has the seemingly impossible job of sifting through 8,000 to 12,000 images—each day. Of course, not all of these images can be published—or should be for that matter—so he has to decide what makes the cut. What does he look for? The image needs to be original and it needs to impress.

“If you can take an amazing soccer picture of an important moment that matters, and the light is perfect and it’s sharp and the instant matters historically, then that’s what takes you over the finish line.”

hand of god photo

Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” Goal, captured by Bob Thomas

Tips for Taking a Great Soccer Action Shot

  • Always look for an original point of view first.
  • Know the sport. If you know the game, you can anticipate what’s going to happen next.
  • Shoot tight. When the subject fills the frame, the image portrays more impact and drama.
  • Typically when it comes to sports photography, the best choice is the longest lens you have. Set the aperture wide open to blur the background and focus the action.
  • Go for the iconic moments. The most historic moment of the tournament isn’t always the winning goal. Be aware of what’s happening all over the field.
historic world cup moment

Zinedine Zidane head-butts Marco Materazzi, captured by John McDougall

“Successful photos are ones that eliminate all the stuff you don’t want in them and can just focus on the subject matter. So let the action come to you.”

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