Give them somewhere to go
Framing your image is as important as how well you expose the image. A poorly composed shot can ruin a great moment by not holding the viewer’s attention. One common mistake in action photography is not using the frame properly. If you are dealing with a subject moving horizontally across your field of view, give the subject somewhere to go by placing it to the side of the frame, with its motion leading toward the middle of the frame (Figure 5.13). This offsetting of the subject will introduce a sense of direction and anticipation for the viewer. Unless you are going to completely fill the image with the action, try to avoid placing your subject in the middle of the frame.
Here I was photographing the demolition of the famous Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago. The debris was flying off the building every time the wrecking ball hit the structure. By framing the image this way, it shows you how far the debris was flying and guides your eye through the movement.
Get in front of the action
Here’s another one. When shooting action, show the action coming toward you (Figure 5.14) rather than going away from you. People want to see faces. Faces convey the action, the drive, the sense of urgency, and the emotion of the moment. So if you are shooting action involving people, always position yourself so that the action is either coming at you or is at least perpendicular to your position.
Put your camera in a different place
Changing your vantage point is a great way to find new angles. Shooting from above with a wide-angle lens might let you incorporate some depth into the image. Shooting from farther away with a telephoto lens will compress the elements in a scene and allow you to crop in tighter on the action. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.
The image in Figure 5.15 was a different view of the Kushti wrestlers. Instead of viewing them straight on, the higher vantage point showed a new take on their exercise routine.
I could not have achieved this viewpoint if I had not climbed up to this higher vantage point. I wanted to get a shot that showed all of the wrestlers warming up, so I climbed up on top of a cement embankment. If I had stayed below, the image would have been at eye level and the depth of the shot would have been missing. I also would not have been able to capture as many wrestlers in the frame with an eye-level vantage point. Sometimes a low perspective works fine, but also look up to see if you can get to high ground for a better view.