Intensity on the sidelines



Joshua White (11) photographs the basketball team as they warm up for their game against East High School on Jan. 10. White shares his work on his Instagram, @Joshua.shutterspeed.

As the Rhodes lacrosse team practices and competes, Hugh Ferguson (12) documents the players and the team’s camaraderie. Ferguson has been the team’s photographer since Jan. 2022. (HUGH FERGUSON//USED WITH PERMISSION)

As the Spartan basketball team prepares for tip-off, a shutter clicks and dozens of pictures are captured. For Joshua White (11) and Hugh Ferguson (12), sports photography has served as a form of expression and outlet for creativity. 

In July 2022, White attended a Nascar race and brought a small digital camera. This propelled his photography career, and in less than a year, White noticed progress in his work and now photographs White Station sporting events. 

“[Sports photography] is very interesting and intriguing because you don’t really get to hear or feel the emotion when you’re in the stands, but when you’re right there on the sidelines or the baseline, you feel the emotion and energy of the players and coaches,” White said. 

Ferguson has pursued his passion for photography since sixth grade, beginning with a simple phone camera and photographing his travels and everyday experiences. He now serves as the photographer for the Rhodes lacrosse team and sells his work on stock image websites. 

“I would describe [sports photography] as fast-paced,” Ferguson said. “You always have to be on your feet. You’re always running around getting good angles, dodging balls flying at your face. It’s kind of dangerous, but it’s very exciting and rewarding when you see a picture and think, ‘Oh, I took that.’”

For Ferguson and White, their hobby blends their love for creativity and their interest in sports.  

“I used to like writing books, like little novels and I used to like drawing a lot, so I found a mix between that and liking sports,” White said. “I found that [sports photography] was a good mix of what I was passionate about.”

As players speed through the court or field, photographers move as well, capturing the pure thrill of the game and the emotion of each player. Between interacting with athletes and displaying excitement through a simple picture, sports photographers master the skills of communication, art and concentration.

“I would never say I’m calm,” White said. “I’m always on edge. Especially in high-intensity moments, I find myself to be too into the game and miss some shots from being too indulged in what’s going on.”

With one good shot comes hundreds of blurry, unfocused and unsatisfactory pictures. For even the most experienced photographers, there is no guarantee that a picture will turn out the way they hoped. However, there are often exceptions for miracle shots that have the perfect lighting, perfect time and perfect place. 

“Most of the time it’s ‘spraying and praying,’” Ferguson said. “You hold down the shutter button and just hope for a good photo because the chance of that happening is so rare, and you really just have to take thousands of pictures and maybe you’ll get 50 good ones.” 

Whether it is through the angle of pictures or editing, every artist has their own style that is curated throughout their career. Many beginner photographers follow tutorials, take inspiration from others and practice on their own to hone their craft. 

“I try to be a little more creative [with] the ways I shoot,” White said. “I take inspiration from other people and put my own little spin on it. It’s a combination of taking something you like from others and using that in your own way to get your own look.”

From afar, the job of a sports photographer may seem simple, but being right on the sidelines can be both exhilarating and stressful. 

“When I get to an event I see where I can be less of a distraction, so like the back of the stands or at the sidelines,” White said. “You have to be really cautious on the sidelines especially when you’re not a player because no one’s looking out for you.”

The entire process of setting up equipment, shooting an event, editing and exporting takes many hours. Although the focus and labor in sports photography can be tedious, the results are gratifying for both the photographer and the athlete. 

“It’s cool to show the players the photos, and it makes you happy when they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I love that,’” Ferguson said. “Photography has definitely been one of my favorite hobbies to get outside and move instead of sitting at home. That’s why I love photography.”