All day Sunday I shot cheer. It lasted about 12 hours or so and was your pretty typical cheer shoot. One thing that was different was that we focused more on shooting bases than shooting flyers during the lifts. What this means is that when the girls went up in the air, we wouldn't follow them with our cameras. Instead we'd focus on shooting the girls on the ground and towards the back, the ones who do more work behind the scenes.
The way cheer routines are set up, the smaller girls are generally the flyers, and the more attractive ones are the ones who go up high and stand closer to the front. What tends to happen is that we get way more shots of the thinner and more attractive girls and fewer shots of the larger and not as pretty girls. However, they all have parents who are just as proud about and excited about their children and want pictures, so you have to make more effort to drill to the back and pick off hard to reach shots of the girls who aren't on display right on the front.
So when the girls would go up high, we would take the time to shoot back and forth along the bottom before going up high, that is if the girls were still even up in the air by the time I made a few passes along the bottom.
Another thing about shooting the flyers is crotch shots. Those are a biggy and we try to avoid them, even though there's so many great shots where crotches are visible. When I shoot flyers up in the air in this position, I'd generally zoom out (shooting vertically) to include a shot of their whole body plus the people in the base, rather than shooting a tight shot from the hips to the head. It would put more emphasis on the overall formation than on tighter shots which put more emphasis on particular body parts.
Another thing is which position you're shooting in. We'd have 3-4 photographers per stage. You've got your left cam, center cam, and right cam, as well as sometimes a wide angle cam also shooting center stage. Given that the girls usually lift their left legs, this pretty much prevents the right photographer from shooting flyers during leg lifts. Shooting flyers becomes the photographer on the left's priority. I shot center cam both days so I would shoot high if there was a clean shot or if I could aim right a bit.
Just to look at this shot and tell you what I see as I look at it, I notice that there's flyers doing leg lifts so I look down to first see if I can drill down to the bases. They've all got their hands up which means that their faces are covered so my options are pretty limited. I can wait for them to toss the girls up so they fall down, and in the process their hands come down and I can fire a shot before they catch the flyer, or if they rotate around some faces will be exposed and I can snipe a shot. I also like that the girl's hair is pulled back which makes it easier to see the face. When their hair is down, their faces are often covered up, making it tougher to get a clean shot.
After shooting for a few hours, you practically start running on autopilot. You can get a feel for when a good shot is about to come, when you don't have time, what's gonna come next (to a certain extent), and where on the stage to shoot.
So yeah, just wanted to post a few shots from this weekend's cheer event. It's Monday now and we're hitting the road today, heading west. Time to go pack and continue this road trip!
Until next time, stay awesome... :)