Sports Photography Tips and Tricks from Frank Darkwah

The famous adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ rings true for writer turned sports photographer Frank Darkwah. Earlier, when writing about Ghanian football games Frank often faced a dearth of quality pictures to elucidate his words. It happened far too often so he decided to take some photos himself and create a repository to supplement his stories. Little did he know that he was a natural at it. Since his first game, Frank has never stopped clicking and as they say, the rest is history – or more aptly in this case, his stories in pictures.

Today, Frank is a CAF (Confederation de African Football (CAF) and FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) accredited photojournalist he has covered prestigious events like the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations Championship, the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and the 2022 WAFU U17 Championship. He was nominated as the Best Sports Photographer in Ghana and by the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). He was also among the top 10 Sports Photographers from Africa by AIPS.

Pro tip – Passion and perseverance will pave the way

Gt. Olympics James Akaminko strong tackle on Kotoko’s Samuel Frimpong captured by sports photographer Frank Darkwah on Canon EOS 6D

Franks says, “You have to have the passion for it”.

Sports photography is not just about taking photos of the athletes and games, but really investing time, and effort in it and building technique and developing skills over time. It is a challenging realm and can be exhausting.

You’ll thrive only if you have the passion it takes. He also advises enthusiasts and upcoming sports photographers to be in it for the long run.

“Anyone who is serious about sports photography must think from a long-term perspective and the benefits it can have over a period as there are no quick returns. You must be committed to your craft. Perseverance will see you through,” he asserts.

Camera always counts

Kotoko forward Frank Mbella Etouga controls a ball midair captured by sports photographer Frank Darkwah on Canon EOS 6D

Gt. Olympics James Akaminko strong tackle on Kotoko’s Samuel Frimpong captured by sports photographer Frank Darkwah on Canon EOS 6D

Your camera and the equipment will help bring your A game. Many professionals like Frank rely on Canon. “Using Canon EOS 6D Mark ll has helped me get the best out of my best work,” remarks Frank. The EOS 6D provides powerful support to artistic expression, even in the realm of moviemaking. It’s a powerful yet compact and light DSLR with a 26.2megapixel image sensor, and a touch panel LCD monitor to capture stunning images and videos. For upcoming photographers Frank recommends moderate and budget-friendly cameras like the Canon EOS M50 or the EOS 1300D. He adds that a Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM lens works well if you cannot get a Canon EF 300mm or 400mm lens.

Tricks to bring out your best shotsWatch out for the weather. It’s a critical aspect of photography. Good weather will give you quality images.

Start with covering small games and sports that are not hugely popular. It takes off the pressure and gives you the freedom to take your time, explore and develop.

Be at the venue ahead of time. Get to the game much before the match starts so you have time to prepare and be ready when the action starts.

The action is on and off the field. Don’t just focus on the action on the field and athletes, also capture the action around you like fans, their emotions, etc. Things that happen outside the pitch make great stories.

Get the vantage advantage. Pick your position with the best view of the field that allows you to take great shots.

Be unbiased in covering a game. It helps to stay neutral on the job. You are there to capture the best moments on the field and take good shots of the game irrespective of your favorite team or player. Having favorites can make the opponent team’s fans irate.

Avoid wearing any team’s jersey on the job. It gives away your affiliation and might land you in trouble with the fans during the match.

Take care of your equipment. Safe storage, frequent cleaning and regular maintenance add to the longevity of the equipment.

Frank sums up, “The key is having the passion and zeal if you want to succeed. Knowledge about photography and understanding of the game are crucial. Knowing about sports in general helps particularly the game you are covering. It also makes working as a sports photographer very easy”. He re-iterates, “Don’t think about the immediate benefits, think about long-term benefits. Keep at it and you just might become one of the most successful photographers”.

‘Capture the Action’ Photography Competition
Photography enthusiasts in Africa were invited to participate in ‘Capture the Action’ sports photography competition which Canon held in collaboration with Pan African Visions. The contest was for upcoming photographers to showcase their talent and the power of visual storytelling in sports photography. The contest was open from 7th July- 31st July to African photographers aged 18 and over. The best shots stand to win some amazing prizes and winners will be revealed soon through public voting and an exclusive jury panel that includes Frank Darwah.

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