It’s hard enough to take a great photograph. Add in crazy fast movement, unpredictable lighting, being in the right place at the right time, and knowing just when to react, and it’s no wonder that sports photography is a true art form… and a difficult one at that. Getting the perfect shot is the life passion of these 13 photographers who capture not only the action, but also the emotion behind the athletes and the sports they’re trying to conquer. Even better? Many of them came to photography later in life while pursuing a passion.
Follow along as they travel the world all in the name of getting that one perfect photograph.
Tristan Shu is based in the French Alps and is known for doing whatever it takes to get his shot. He doesn’t just shoot sports—he takes beautiful photos of landscapes and interiors—but action photography is his passion because he loves to be outside.
Image Source: Tristan Shu
Julian Finney is a London-based photographer who combined his love of sports with his passion for photography and now shoots sporting events all over the world, including the Olympics and World Cup. While he’s phenomenal at capturing the action, he’s also known for his stoic portraits.
Image Source: Julian Finney
Mark J. Rebilas is based in Phoenix, Arizona and had his first camera at the age of 10. He was a US Navy photographer who took photos during a wartime deployment in 2004 and then decided to be a freelance sports photographer after he was honorably discharged in 2006. If there’s one thing he’s good at, it’s catching the action and making you wonder just how he got the shot.
Image Source: Mark J. Rebilas
Based in Athens and Berlin, Vladimir Rys has been taking sports photographs professionally since 1996. He now focuses mostly on Formula One photography and is known for eschewing post-production tools in favor of a more classic analog style.
Image Source: Vladimir Rys
Jorge Jimenez is from Costa Rica and takes photographs of landscapes, shoots portraits, and does commercial work, but it’s his biking and surfing pics that wow us again and again.
Image Source: Jorge Jimenez
Dave Lehl lives in Denver, Colorado, so it only makes sense that much of his photography features the great outdoors. However, it’s not all snowboard and skiing. He also takes lots of photographs of skateboarding, running, cycling, and adventuring. What he’s most famous for, however, is his light trail series. Just don’t ask him how he did it ‘cause he definitely isn’t telling.
Image Source: Dave Lehl
A self-taught photographer, Chris Burkard is inspired by adventure and moments of bliss and is known for his distinct compositions (and his TED talk about the joy of surfing in ice-cold water). What’s so amazing about his photographs, we think, is the way he captures landscape, movement, and even temperature.
Image Source: Chris Burkard
Ed Mulholland is a freelance sports photographer based in the New York City area who focuses on UFC, MMA, NHL hockey, and NFL football, though it’s clear his real passion is boxing and capturing all of the blood and bruising that comes with it.
Image Source: Ed Mulholland
Based in Utah, Kevin Winzeler travels the world to take photos of everything from golf to swimming to football. It’s pretty clear, however, that his real passion is found in the mountains… especially if there’s snow in those mountains.
Image Source: Kevin Winzeler
Kirill Umrikhin is an extreme sports photographer from Moscow, Russia who is only 27 years old but is already in high demand by brands like Red Bull and Quiksilver and is on the Nikon, GoPro and SanDisk Extreme teams. His site is mostly in Russian, but that’s okay; you’re just going there for the stunning photographs.
Image Source: Kirill Umrikhin
Adam Kokot turned his photography hobby into a profession after he captured some stunning images of his friends climbing in the Tatra Mountains. Now this outdoor photographer leaves his home in Poland to travel the world and take photos of runners, climbers, cyclists, snowboarders, and more.
Image Source: Adam Kokot Adventure Photos
Garth Milan is from Laguna Beach, California who got into sports photography because he liked doing the actual sports. Two decades later, he’s found he actually likes life behind the camera better. He now runs his own ad agency where he does work for clients like Red Bull, Ducati, and more.
Image Source: Garth Milan via The Medium Creative Group
A staff photographer for “Sports Illustrated” who has been taking photos of sports and athletes for over 30 years, Peter Read Miller has covered eight Olympic Games, 34 Super Bowls, 14 NBA Finals, and athletes like Muhammad Ali, Joe Montana, and Magic Johnson. This is a sports photographer veteran who is truly living the dream.
Image Source: Peter Read Miller
Feeling inspired? Here’s how to find photography lessons in your area.