Peter Read Miller is the sports photographer! He has worked for Sports Illustrated magazine as staff and contract photographer for 40 years, with more than 100 covers to his credit. He has covered numerous Super Bowls, Olympic games, NBA Finals, and has photographed countless portraits of the most well known athletes in the world. He has also published his own book Peter Read Miller On Sports Photography.
When Peter is not too busy capturing touchdowns, photographing famous athletes, or publishing books, he’s traveling the world to share his experience.
Peter will be giving a free lecture on November 19, 2015 from 7:00 pm- 9:00 pm at the Art Building Auditorium and will also be teaching Sports Photography on November 21-22. In addition to sharing his secrets on getting the best shots from sport events, Peter will be leading a class shoot during several sporting events, including the UH football game on Saturday evening November 21st.
As if he isn’t busy enough, Peter agreed to answer a few of our questions about his career, photography, and life.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your history? You have been a sports photographer for over forty years. What drew you to this field?
Photography was a hobby for me through High School and college at the University of South Carolina (USC). After I left school, I decided to try it a try as a career with the thought that I could always return to a more “mainstream” job. As it turned out, I never had to.
In addition to shooting for USC, I started shooting for the NFL and ABC Television. This eventually led me to Sports Illustrated where I worked on contract for twenty years and staff for fifteen.
Because I shot so many sports at USC, it just seemed a natural progression to stay primarily in the sports world, although a great deal of my work at Sports Illustrated was portraiture of athletes.
What does it take to get the perfect shot during a game? You have covered 38 Super Bowl games. What is your technique when photographing game events?
The more you know about the game, the teams and the players you are shooting, the better your chances are of getting a great shot. The way I cover an event, say a football game; depends on the type of assignment I have. Am I focusing in on one player? Or game action? Or am I out there just to make some awesome image?
What type of camera gear/ equipment do you use to get the best photos?
I shoot with Canon EOS-1D X and Canon 7D Mk II camera bodies. My go to long lenses are the Canon 400 mm F.28 IS II, the Canon 200-400 f4 IS, the Canon 70-200 mm f2.8 IS II and the canon 24-70 f2.8 II.0.
You have also done portraits of famous athletes. Did you ever imagine that you would be photographing the portraits of Muhammad Ali and Magic Johnson? How does it feel photographing the best athletes in sports?
I have been fortunate to shoot many famous and not so famous athletes in my career. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all people like everyone else. Treat them with respect, don’t waste their time, and give them a comfortable environment (music, food) and you will usually get the picture you are looking for from them and often more.
What separates sports photography from other types of photography (e.g. technique, angle, issues) other than the obvious difference that you are photographing moving objects?
I think the two most important things in action photography besides focus and peak action of course, are lighting and backgrounds. Both football and baseball involve helmets or caps that will shadow a player’s face. Unless you can find some wonderful low sun, your best bet is to shoot backlit, that is with the sun above and behind the player.
Backgrounds are also important in that a clean background will really make the subject pop out of the image, conversely a busy, distracting background will make it hard to distinguish the action you are trying to portray.
What can the techniques of Sports photography teach all photographers? What are you looking forward to in teaching the Sports Photography course for Pacific New Media? What can your students expect?
Timing, lighting, framing and preparation are all elements of sports photography that apply in all areas of photography.
I’m looking forward to sharing the experiences from my career in the context of shooting the UH/San Jose State football game, reviewing the photos, and shooting action portraits of UH athletes.
If you would like to register for Peter’s Sports Photography go to http://www.outreach.hawaii.edu/pnm/programs/2015/EVENT-L13995.asp