Action Photography is difficult but this is where female ambassadors make the difference these days. With over 95 million photos and videos posted daily on Instagram, the competition is tough so you want to make sure your photos are unique and remarkable to stand out and capture everyone's attention.
That's why we thought we'd share our own experience taking action shots for KALOEA Surf Bikinis and outline our top action photography tips, which are also a reflection of the standards we expect from our brand ambassadors.
With this guide, we aim to help all of you girls take killer action photos to build a strong Instagram portfolio and land partnerships with your dream brands.
1. INVEST IN A GOOD ACTION CAMERA
This may sound a bit trivial but it all starts with getting the right equipment and when it comes to action cameras, we think that GoPro make the best ones on the market. Other cameras will do a good job too as long as they have the right properties:
For still shots, you want the resolution of your camera to be at least 12 megapixels. Less than that, you won't have much flexibility when editing your photos as you will automatically lose quality and details when resizing (enlarging) and cropping your pics.
However, having more pixels doesn't necessarily mean getting better quality photographs, the reason being 16MP and 24MP cameras usually have smaller sensors than 12MP cameras, that capture less light and result in image noise.
So before getting a new camera, do your research and check out comparative videos on Youtube to make sure you're getting the camera that is most suited to your needs.
For videos, you need to look at both the resolution and frame rates. If you want to take standard HD videos at normal speed, you will need a camera that can shoot in 1080p at 30fps. "Fps" is the number of frames (= still shots) your camera plays per second, which usually ranges from 15fps to 120fps. Keep an eye on the fps if you want to shoot in slow-motion as the higher fps will give you the best quality in slow-mo - you will need at least 60fps on the GoPro.
4K cameras are also getting more and more popular so eventually, we'll all have to shoot in 4K but for now, if you don't have the budget 1080p will do.
Note: If you plan to upload your videos on Youtube, be aware that the resolution of your video won't be as good as it is on your computer, so don't upload any videos that are less than 1080p or they will just look crap.
2. PREPARATION IS KEY
Photography is all about light so there's a few things you need to figure out before going out for a photoshoot:
- When is the best time of the day to shoot? Depending on the effect you're trying to achieve, shoot at sunrise or sunset for lowlights, shoot around midday for highlights.
- Study the location so you know where the light will be coming from. This way you can find the best angles to shoot from.
- Prepare for the weather. Allocate extra time on a cloudy day as you may have to retake the shot if a cloud blocked the sunlight when you were shooting.
- If you're shooting in the surf, keep an eye on the swell and tide charts to find the best time to hit the surf. Apply toothpaste on your lens before going out so water drops don't get stuck on it when you're in the surf.
- If you're shooting underwater, pick a day with great visibilty and try and shoot at midday when the sun is high in the sky for better light.
- If you can already predict that there won't be enough light for whatever reason, don't even bother. Just reschedule the shoot.
- Adjust your camera settings accordingly. For action shots, we recommend always shooting wide angle and in burst mode.
- Charge all your batteries and empty your SD cards the night before so you're ready to go in the morning. If you can, buy spare batteries so you don't feel pressured by time when you see that your battery's about to run out!
3. BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR ANGLES
From a brand perspective, diversity is key. Shooting from the same angle a million times is boring and won't make you stand out from other potential ambassadors.
Think about the type of action shot you want to capture - maybe it's a turn in the surf? jumping off a cliff? swimming with turtles? doing an air on your kiteboard? - and consider all the angles you could shoot this action from: face on, side on, from behind, from above etc... Here are some surfing examples below.
KALOEA Rider Aude Lionet - Pic: F-One SUP
Pro Surfer Justine Dupont for Billabong
Pro surfer Frankie Harrer - Pic: Morgan Maassen
KALOEA rider Eve Riviere - Pic: Richard Kotch
If your discipline requires using hardware, which is very likely the case, think about where you could attach your GoPro to find this unique angle.
Kitesurfers often attach their GoPro to their kite and this is how sick this angle looks:
4. INVEST IN CAMERA MOUNTS & ACCESSORIES
We've talked about all the angles you can shoot from, now if you don't have a nice friend, super-keen dad or good samaritan to shoot you, you will probably have to take the shots yourself... which is totally feasible as long you have the right mounts. Start with these 4 must-have mounts:
- Extendable selfie stick
- Helmet mount - don't overdo it though ;)
If you're lucky enough to have someone take photos of you in the ocean, we recommend using a Knekt Dome for some rad half-half shots.
KALOEA girl in Tahiti - Pic: Raihei Tapeta
Aerial shots look good too if you know someone who owns a drone....
KALOEA girl Tahlia Bourke in Byron
5. MAKE SURE YOUR SPONSOR'S PRODUCT IS CLEARLY VISIBLE
If you want to be/are a brand ambassador, keep in mind that you need to feature your sponsor's product in your photos. We find that a lot of girls send us photos in which we can't even see the bikini they're wearing. They may be really good photos from a technical and aesthetic point of view but at the end of the day, what brands want is for people to see their products.
It's all about find the perfect distance to shoot, where you see as much action and background as possible while still zooming in on the product (see photo below). Keep trying different angles and distances until you find the right one!
Note: If you're interested in becoming a brand ambassador for a swimwear brand, check out our guide on How To Take Cool & Original Bikini Photos for some additional tips!
KALOEA rider Aude Lionet - Pic: F-One Sup
6. EDIT YOUR PHOTOS
Let's face the truth, 99% of the photos we see in online ads and on brands websites/social media pages have been somewhat edited. This means that if you want your photos to look professional and match the industry standards you need to invest a bit of time in editing them. If you can't afford Photoshop, there's also free photo editors that will do a good job too. Check out the best free photo editor of 2016.
- Start with playing around with the colour settings (saturation, brightness, contrast, vibrance, shadows etc..). As a rule, increasing the brightness and saturation always makes the photos look better.
- Highlight the product you're promoting (increase brightness + saturation on product)
- Crop the photo. Zoom in on the action/product but not too much so you don't lose too much depth of field. Apply rule of thirds when possible.
- Remove unwanted objects from photo
- Save your photo in .JPEG format and in high resolution (at least 1MP).
Here's a quick example to show you that spending 5 min editing a photo can make a huge difference. This photo was taken during our last KALOEA surf trip, on a stormy day in the Maldives and definitely has a lot of potential!
BEFORE EDITING AFTER EDITING
7. PATIENCE IS KEY
Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time and experience to develop the skills required to take awesome action photos so be patient and learn from your mistakes. Over time you will figure out what angles work best for you and your sport based on your personal preferences and the product you're trying to promote.
Keep in mind that in action photography, it takes A LOT of takes to get the money shot. So once again be patient and when you finally get the shop, pop a bottle.
8. ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY LEVEL = EXPERT
Once you've mastered the skills of motion photography and figured out how to take rad action shots in all sorts of conditions, it's time for you to step up your game with props - rocking a Santa Klaus outfit at Christmas time is a classic! - or include other people in your photos. The more moving objects in the photo, the trickier it becomes...
Note: Do not underestimate the cute factor, photos with pups always kill it ;)
Pic: Hope LeVin
GoPro and other action camera companies lure you into thinking that anyone can take rad action shots with their cameras but in reality, getting great motion photos requires quality equipment, good preparation, some photography knowledge and a lot of time.
Anyone can take iPhone selfies, on the other hand it takes a lot of skills to get out there and take killer action shots of yourself doing what you do best, and this is what brands will see and value when they check out your Instagram page.
So start working on those action photography skills girls! We guarantee it will pay off and this is how you'll land partnerships with your favourite sports brands.
Sending you Good Vibes from KALOEA Media House,