Something New - Importance of Backgrounds

January 12, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

FloatingUniversity of Michigan Women's Gymnastics - Uneven Bars

If you follow my photography at all, you know I shot A LOT of Michigan Football and Basketball....which is great, I love both of those and ultimately they are my favorite things to shoot (other than my daughter). But as I was going through all the photos I took in 2015, I could help but feel disappointed in myself for not getting out and shooting more things. Aside from some Michigan Softball, I really didn't shoot much else last year. With that in mind, I was excited to shoot something a little bit new and different for me---Women's Gymnastics. The first time you shoot something, I always recommend doing some research. For me, that meant two things--1) I have lots of great Sports Photography books that I can quickly look at to get some techniques and ideas. One I highly recommend is Peter Read Miller On Sports Photography. He has shot for Sports Illustrated for over 30 years, with his photos appearing on the cover over 100 times, and has covered 9 Olympics, 36 Super Bowls, and countless other big events. Anyways---highly recommend this book, it is a great resource. 2) I usually do a quick Google Images search for whatever I am shooting to pick out a few shots that I really like and want to try to replicate. In this case, I came across a photo from a previous Michigan Women's Gymnastics meet that showed that they usually have a giant, inflatable block M somewhere in the arena. This leads me to the second thing I wanted to talk about, which is the importance of backgrounds. When possible, always try to be conscious of the background that will appear in your photo. We have all had great photos of our subject ruined by something or someone distracting in the background. While I wasn't able to prevent some security guys from standing in the background, I did find that the giant inflatable M made for a great backdrop for this meet and did my best to position myself so that my subject would always be between myself and the M. 

A few last thoughts on shooting gymnastics. Like all things, practice makes perfect. I found shooting this for the first time very difficult due to the speed, the rapid changes in height and direction, tough lighting conditions, and just not being familiar with each gymnasts routine. If you plan to shoot gymnastics, I highly recommend getting their early as most of the gymnasts are going through their routines to warm up. You might get some clues on where you want to be positioned for a key element of the routine.

That's all I have for today---please feel free to email me with questions at Thanks!



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