Photographing Lacrosse

Sick rip Bro! … Who’s hot? … Watch for the cutter... Ball’s at X… Oh, total yard sale!

Any of these terms sound familiar? If you answered yes you might have a son or daughter who plays lacrosse. Lacrosse or lax, is one of the fastest growing youth sports and depending on where you live you are either new to the sport or it is old news. Either way, it is a very exciting sport to watch and even more fun to photograph. Today we are going to talk about how to capture this exciting and fast moving sport.

Lacrosse is a mix of hockey and soccer.  The hockey similarities are evident in the fast moving ball and the constant swapping of players off the bench during play. Soccer is represented through the strategic passing and player distribution. As with both soccer and hockey, lacrosse comes with plenty of contact. More so in the boy’s leagues as girls have slightly different rules which emphasize passing and speed.  From a photographer’s perspective, knowing these elements can help when stepping out on the field to take some photos. The ball is going to move too fast to follow it through the lens and having a sense of the player formation can help you anticipate where the ball might be going next. Typically the play will come down the field then when they reach the opposing goal, the ball will be passed around from player to player until a weakness in match-up is sensed and a shot is taken. In many ways, this part of the game can even duplicate basketball.

On a top down level, lacrosse is more about the struggle of offense vs defense rather than individual isolation. While there are plenty of opportunities to photograph individual players, the most interesting photos come in the dance between the attack and the defense. I like to stay a little bit looser with my cropping to catch that interplay. This is good for the average photographer as well. It means you do not have to own that super long lens. Many times a 70 - 200mm will be just fine. The players on attack will dodge and weave and it is in those turns and curls where you can catch most of your shots. Also, due to the fact that the ball is in the player’s lacrosse stick head, you do not always have to capture full bodies. You can split up and take both horizontal and vertical shots.

Like I said before, the ball moves fast so you will not be able to move with the play like you might do with football. The ball is ripped quickly from player to player so you will want to pick a spot and shoot for a while before changing angles. Let’s discuss field position and the advantages of each angle.

Midfield – This is where you can capture a clean view of the face off and also where you can get a nice angle of the goalie from straight forward.

Halfway between midfield and the back line – Lots of curling and interaction in front of the goal happens from this position.

Even with net – Clean shots of the attackmen. These are the very fast players on offense who are darting and cutting in front of the goalie looking for opportunities to shoot. You can get nice shots of the Goalie and defensemen from this angle as well.

Corner – This is an opportunity to get a shot while catching some of the cage net in the frame. You are also able to get the attackmen coming straight down the field as well. Caution, you are now entering the danger zone. If a player is taking a shot from the far side of the field and then miss the goal (which is very frequent) you are in the line of fire.

Behind the back line – This is a super dangerous position and many times, referees and officials will not allow it. However, if you want to take the chance (don’t say I didn’t warn you) this is a fantastic angle to get the action coming straight at you. One more word about this position. While it affords some incredible shots, you are very vulnerable to getting hit and that ball moves fast, is very hard and can do some serious damage to you and or your equipment. You have been warned.

While we are on the subject of safety, lacrosse is a sport where you want to be very aware. Warm ups, halftimes, game time; these are all times when you can be in the line of fire from anywhere on the sidelines. Not a good place to turn your back and chat with a friend.

There is one more angle that can be fantastic and that is from the stands. Granted you will need a longer lens but if you have that luxury, you will get a nice overview and your photos will benefit from clean turf backgrounds.

Feel like you have a better understanding of what it takes to photograph lacrosse? Careful, shooting lacrosse can be highly addictive. The first time I photographed a game, I came home and raved about the experience to both of my boys who then dropped their current sport and have been laxers ever since wink Have a blast.

And if you need lacrosse team management software for your upcoming season, give TeamSnap a try!

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Scott Quintard is a professional photographer based in southern California and a 25 year sports photography veteran who specializes in teaching parents and aspiring photographers about how to capture sports imagery. Credits include 12 years as the official team photographer for the UCLA Bruins and a seasoned contributor for NFL Properties, MLB, NBA and NCAA. Scott is a husband and father of three young athletes. See more of Scott's offerings at

Release Date: Feb 05 2015

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