Search Menu


This site is available only to JEA members. Please log in below.

Sports photos


Using a flipped classroom method, students will explore websites and YouTube videos for strategies and techniques for taking good sports photos.  They will evaluate those websites and discuss what they’ve learned.  Then, they will practice different techniques by visiting a physical education class.  Finally, they will work with a partner to take photos of a sporting event and then submit their best photos for critique by their classmates.

There is also a middle school version of this lesson.


  • Students will be able to conduct mini research projects on topics about photojournalism, evaluate sources for their accuracy, and present what they’ve learned concisely to others.
  • Students will practice photography techniques while taking sports photos.
  • Students will be able to prepare a presentation that showcases their knowledge and explains it concisely to others.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.W9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.


Three 45-minute classes (two days in a row and one day later in the week)

To shorten this lesson to one day for use in the four-week module, teach Day 1 of instruction by itself. To shorten this lesson to two days for the nine-week module, teach Days 1 and 2 of instruction but exclude Day 3.


Slideshow: Sample sports photos

Access to a Physical Education class for taking practice sports photos

Class set: Mini photography planning sheet

Class set: Sporting event rubric, website evaluation

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Assign homework — prior to today’s lesson

Give students the homework assignment of looking up online resources and videos for how to take good sports photography.  Have students save the web links in a place that is easily accessible or print out the website.

2. Discuss — 5 minutes

Discuss: how did students know whether the website they picked was a good website or a bad website?  What are some ways to know that the site you are visiting is reputable?

3. Think/pair/share — 15 minutes

Have students Think/Pair/Share about 2-3 tips that they learned from their explorations of web resources.  As students share, make a large list of tips on the board and have students discuss the merits of each one.

Note: Many students may have found tips such as “shoot with a high ISO” or “use Aperture priority.”  These are skills that are taught in Unit 4 – Exposure.  Try to make sure that your students are also mentioning tips with angles/composition:

1) Action/reaction (don’t just shoot the action on the field, but good/bad reactions of players, fans, etc.

2) Mix it up to get pictures of fans/coaches/parents; Don’t just be concerned with the game, but with the stories happening AT the game

3) Spread photographers out to shoot from multiple angles

4) Position yourself so the action is coming TOWARDS you, not moving away from you.

5) Think about angles (shooting low to the ground, from high in the stands, etc) and composition (framing, etc)

6) Check your photos often.  Don’t take 300 photos without looking at any of them; they might all be blurry, and then you’ve wasted tons of time.

4. Evaluation of Existing Sports Photography – 10 minutes 

Using a projector and a computer, spend time looking at sample sports photography.  You may use a website that has many existing professional sports photos or use the sample photo presentation that is included with this lesson.  For each photo, ask students to evaluate (in pairs or as a class) what is well done or what could be stronger.  Ask students to evaluate both the technical aspects of the photo (angle, focus, composition, light) as well as the storytelling aspects of the photo.

5. Written activity — 10 minutes

Ask students to write a response where they evaluate the web resources they viewed prior to class today.  Were those sites helpful? Were they reputable? Students should give examples to defend their opinion.

Day 2

1. Review — 5 minutes

Review strategies and lessons from yesterday.  What are some tips that we learned for taking good sports photos?

Note: One of the most challenging aspects of photography is capturing the emotion and the story of a photo rather than just “getting it right” in terms of technical skills.  Yes, shooting photos by using the correct settings and strategies is important, but unless your photos also have an emotional, storytelling component, they won’t be impactful.

2. On the spot photography — 25 minutes

Visit a Physical Education class that is happening concurrently.  Have students work with a partner to practice taking sports.  Encourage them to play with their cameras and the settings, and use all of the strategies that have been discussed in class.

3. Debrief — 15 minutes

Meet back in the classroom to discuss/share.  Ask students: What was easier than you anticipated it being? Was anything more difficult?  What types of shots were your best shots? Did you notice any behind-the-scenes stories that you tried to capture on film, rather than just the action of whatever was happening in gym class?  If the teacher noticed anything especially good or bad about students’ experience taking photos (common mistakes, easily fixable things), this is a great time to address those.

3. Homework

Hand out copies of Mini Photography Planning Sheets. Between now and Day 3 of this lesson (the teacher can determine what day that is), have students work by themselves or with a partner to shoot photos of a school sporting event.  They should use the planning sheet to prepare themselves ahead of time for the event. They will then give a mini-presentation in front of the class where they explain which sport event they attended, what strategies they tried to employ while taking photos, and show/explain their 3-5 best photos.

Day 3 (later on that week)

1. Prior to class

 Make sure all students have shared their photos in an easily accessible digital format so that presentations run smoothly.

2. Presentation — 5-7 minutes per team

Each partnership should stand in front of the class, explain which sporting event they attended and the strategies they tried to employ, and show their 3-5 best photos to the class.


Advanced students can mentor and/or work with struggling students during the in-class physical education activity or for the mini photography assignment.  This type of partnership benefits advanced students by forcing them to deepen their own understanding and by having them explain the photography skills to others, it may help struggling students to hear the explanations in language that may resonate with their peers.