Environmental Sports Portraiture: Action Sports Photography, with Bill Frakes

Get your game on with Sports Illustrated Staff Photographer Bill Frakes as he takes you to a variety of locations to capture dynamic portraits of athletes performing at the peak of action.

Get your game on with Sports Illustrated Staff Photographer Bill Frakes as he takes you to a variety of locations to capture dynamic portraits of athletes performing at the peak of action. Every location has unique challenges that you need to make work to your advantage. Learn tips on setting up for killer shots, taking care of your gear, how to work with your subjects, and being prepared to roll with whatever comes your way whether you are on the field, in the locker room, or at the beach.

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Beach Volleyball Part 1 (Duration 07:19)

Join Bill on the beach with two professional beach volleyball players where he creates a variety of portraits using available light on the court and off.

Lesson 2: Beach Volleyball Part 2 (Duration 06:04)

The volleyball action continues as Bill works with the athletes to make the most of the available light and various beach locations.

Lesson 3: Soccer Action (Duration 03:36)

Bill heads out to the soccer field with a new athlete and guides you through a number of setups to create a series of dynamic portraits at the peak of action.

Lesson 4: T-Ball Time (Duration 06:46)

From the dugout to the diamond, learn some great tips for shooting kids baseball.

Lesson 5: Basketball Setup (Duration 06:53)

Sometimes the key to a unique shot is all in the setup. Join Bill and his crew as he walks through what is involved in getting right under the action.

Lesson 6: Under the Hoop (Duration 07:43)

All the preparation pays off as Bill works with the player to create a series of killer portraits that puts the viewer right in the game.

Lesson 7: Surfer Shoot (Duration 07:28)

Head back to the beach as Bill photographs a junior surfer and creates a series of environmental portraits, from the dunes to the water's edge, in the gorgeous light of the fading day.

Meet Your Instructor: Bill Frakes

Bill Frakes is a Sports Illustrated Staff Photographer based in Florida who has worked in all 50 states and in more than 125 countries for a wide variety of editorial…


  1. Loved this. Bill Frakes is brilliant. The shots were excellent and he's a great teacher with a very pleasant manner. I learned some valuable stuff. I could watch this guy all day long. Thanks

  2. Would like to know more about the settings being used. The Fstop, the shutter speed, the focus point, how much to underexpose to get the sky darker. These are critical to understanding the starting points.

  3. Great job!!! Bill gives some great ideas and insight into some sports photography. I've done a little but he brings out some good ideas. I particularly liked the way he shot from under the plexiglass. Great perspective on the shot! I also enjoyed the baseball shot with the young man. He brought in some great thoughts on that and how much those type of shots mean to parents and to the young man himself years down the road. Thanks for sharing those ideas!

  4. I loved "Environmental Sports Portraiture: Action Sports Photography" by Mr. Frakes. His personal stories were excellent and help put his philosophy in focus. While I am not a sports shooter most of what Mr. Frakes taught I can apply to my work. Thank You!

  5. Very helpful video. I like the way he explains things. Very easy to follow. Very pleasant with his subjects and co-workers. Interesting to see how he works and his ideas.

  6. Really great class. I like being taken through so many different shoots with different subjects, speeds and environments. I also feel like I am being shown what is done and not just told, which I find much more beneficial overall. Frakes also gives all the information that I would want, what lens, how to shoot with available light, how to be considerate of your subject. Both this and the sports photography gear lessons were hugely beneficial and I am not even primarily interested in sports or action photography. Thank you.

  7. I'm interested by Bill's use of the long lens in the beach volleyball shoot. Is that a 300mm he is using handheld? Or a 80-200 zoom? Any way to find out? Thanks

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