Sports Storytelling: Technical and Non-Technical Aspects, Challenges and Inspiration

Jared Martinez, the sports photographer, is renowned for his creative storytelling through capturing distinguished photographs during games. His work, showcasing pure emotions, reflects unique aspects of the story compared to others. This includes his striking portraits of athletes both during games and off the field and different moments of players masterfully caught within a perfect frame. In this episode of Behind the Lens, Jared offers insights into his creative process for capturing these photos, discussing both technical and non-technical aspects. He also outlines the challenges of action photography and provides inspirational tips for capturing photographs.

Jared Martinez

Jared Martinez is a U.S.-based freelance photographer who travels the world in search of games and the stories that surround them. What sets Jared’s photographs apart is his ability to capture the essence of the athletes he photographs. He doesn’t alter his point of view to suit the situation but instead captures the athletes’ emotions and experiences as they are.

IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography | Jalen Ramsey of the LA Rams. Shot at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA. 16 November, 2022, USA.

Technical and Non-Technical Aspects of Shots

Technically, it’s more about the context of when I capture the portraits than the actual camera settings. For me, in most matches and games, I’m shooting at a high shutter with a shallow depth of field. I try to isolate the athlete and compose the shot to remove all unnecessary distractions from my frame. Usually, it’s more of a hero shot, where I’m shooting from low to high, but it’s not always the case.  

Less technically, I think about those moments where emotions would be visible in pre-match rituals, locker rooms, walkouts, team huddles, big moments throughout the game or match, etc. I also try to get to know the players and know their rituals, stories and characteristics. For me, knowing some of that info on an athlete provides ideas on how I can capture those moments.

“ I’m shooting at a high shutter with a shallow depth of field. I try to isolate the athlete and compose the shot to remove all unnecessary distractions from my frame.”

IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography

What Characteristics Distinguish a Great Photo from a Match

For me, it’s pretty simple; does the photo make me feel something? I think there are levels to this answer as well, bonus points if the photo also encapsulates the story of the match, bonus points if the photo contains the main protagonist of the match.

“ I think about those moments where emotions would be visible in pre-match rituals, locker rooms, walkouts, team huddles, big moments throughout the game or match, etc.”

The Challenges of Action Photography

The challenge is that sports photography is not scripted. It really is up to luck or chance. You can be prepared as much as possible, but at the end of the day, an element of luck is involved. Neil Leifer, one of the greatest sports photographers ever, talks about this “You can’t get away from the element of luck in sports photography, but what makes a great sports photographer is that, when we get lucky, we don’t miss.”

“The challenge of action photography is that sports photography is not scripted. ”

IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography

How to Get Inspired

“I’m not afraid to try new things, try new angles, or new lenses. ”

In terms of my inspiration when capturing people and matches, it’s very narrative and detailed driven. I try to stay fresh in terms of how to capture, so I’m always looking for different angles and vantage points. I guess, as I describe it, it’s really a bit of trial and error. I’m not afraid to try new things, try new angles, or new lenses.

IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography | LA Clippers vs.Los Angeles Lakers. 9 November, 2022. USA.
IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography | LA Clippers vs.Los Angeles Lakers. 9 November, 2022. USA.
IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography | Inglewood SoFi Stadium CA. 19 September, 2021. USA.
IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography | Matt Turner of the United States Men's National Soccer Team. 5 September, 2021. USA.
IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez / Godspeed Good Sir Photography.
IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography | 6 August , 2021.
IMAGO/Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography
IMAGO / Jared Martinez/ Godspeed Good Sir Photography | 16 November 2022, California, USA.
You can find Jared Martinez archive with IMAGO here.