To get your foot in the door and impress a photo editor, you need an attention-grabbing portfolio. If you’re just starting out, it’s unlikely you will get access to the top levels of sports—not on the field or courtside—but you can still create a portfolio of sports photographs by shooting youth, college, and other competitions.
Having a portfolio viewed by a photo editor requires ingenuity and perseverance. Some magazines have a standard policy on reviewing portfolios, so be prepared to make calls, write letters, or otherwise contact your targeted client to find out his or her procedure. Be prepared for rejection, a LOT of rejection. It’s something all photographers have to deal with at some point.
The bigger the publication, the harder it will be to get noticed. A more practical starting point may be with smaller newspapers or magazines. Specialize in one or two areas, and make a comprehensive portfolio of those sports rather than try to be a generalist.Target your client with images of a subject(s) you really know and can photograph well.
There is always room for up and coming talented photographers, so don’t give up if things don’t go smoothly from the outset. Numerous outlets for good images exist, and even with the proliferation of photographers and the emergence of giant agencies, hard work and perseverance will pay off. All those well-known sports photographers whose credit lines you see in major magazines and newspapers had to start somewhere.
So with that said, welcome to the start of becoming a sports photographer! Remember one thing which is more important than anything else, you must have the artistic eye popping from your brain stem! Use it! Also have a fast trigger finger, and the ability to move at the hip because you’re a reflection of the action on the field.