Capturing spectacular parkour action with Samo Vidic

Portrait of Samo Vidic

© Samo Vidic

Samo Vidic has been a professional sports photographer for almost 20 years. A Canon Ambassador, he regularly covers major sporting events for magazines and newspapers as well as shooting portraits of top sports stars and advertising campaigns for major brands. He has photographed sport for Red Bull since 2005.

Samo recently shot parkour group Storror in Istanbul, Turkey, capturing spectacular images of the athletes leaping onto, vaulting over and running across surfaces of different heights. So we asked him what advice he has to offer photographers ready for the challenge of shooting freerunning and other high-octane urban sports.

Scope out the best views

“Preparation for the shoot is essential, particularly with fast and unpredictable sports such as parkour,” Samo says. “It sounds obvious, but before heading out you have to make sure you have all the essential equipment, such as the right lenses, charged batteries and spare memory cards.”

On the day of the shoot, Samo says it’s important to plan out what you’re going to do. “Before I take my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II out of the case, I’ll speak with the athletes and take a detailed look around the location, so I know exactly where the vantage points are for capturing the perfect shot,” he says.

Choosing the correct lenses is vital, too. “Shooting with the most versatile and robust lenses is essential, as the camera equipment may take a few knocks along the way,” Samo explains.

Shoot fast and look for details

“For capturing fast-paced urban sports, I suggest using a wide-angle lens such as Canon’s EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM for a solid and versatile experience. For distance photography, Canon’s EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is a great option because it’s perfect for focusing on the detail and isolating an athlete from the background.”

Parkour athletes are constantly on the move, making it a difficult sport to capture on camera. For the best results, Samo recommends taking control of your exposure settings.

“To catch all of the action, I suggest shooting with the fastest shutter speed possible,” he says. “The minimum needed is 1/1000 sec or faster, setting the autofocus to AI Servo and using the highest frame rate possible.”

If you’re a newcomer to sports photography, Samo says a good camera choice would be Canon’s latest mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS M50. “It is lightweight, can shoot up to 10 frames per second, film in rich 4K definition and seamlessly transfers images to the cloud or a smartphone,” he says.

4 men running up a crane on to shipping containers

© Samo Vidic

Practise your technique

However, whether you want to become skilled at shooting parkour or any other urban sport, Samo’s advice is the same: you have to practise as much as possible. “Take pictures in all light settings and from different angles and perspectives,” he advises.

“Get down to your local sports club because this will enable you to fine-tune your photography skills and understand your camera’s settings and capabilities. Success does not come overnight, so practise is essential. Break out of a routine, try new things and do something different.”

For more of Canon Ambassador Samo Vidic’s work, visit his website and his project on disabled athletes featured here.

Two men leaping on train roof

© Samo Vidic



Interview credit: Written by David Clark