Joline Henry (WD) and Chelsea Pitman (WA) contest for the ball at the 2011 World Netball Championship.
Joline Henry (WD) and Chelsea Pitman (WA) contest for the ball at the 2011 World Netball Championship. Image credit: Michael Bradley.

As the official photographer of Netball New Zealand and the ANZ Championship, Michael Bradley is the go-to guy when it comes netball photography. We see photographers snapping away on the sidelines and shooting team photos, with photos published in magazines, websites and even on the back of buses! Bradley has covered over 90 Silver Ferns test matches and countless netball games.

Netball photography is regarded as one of the most difficult sports to photograph due to the very quick pace of the players and speed of ball movement.

“At the start of the season it always seems to take a little while to get my eye in and then I am back to it,” Bradley told Netball Scoop.

“The more netball you shoot the easier it does become but most sports photographers regard netball as one of the most challenging sports to shoot.”

Work hours for a netball photographer can be very unpredictable. The schedule varies from full-on 14-hour days during the Commonwealth Games and World Championships, to travelling between New Zealand and Australia for ANZ Championship matches.

“During the World Netball Champs I shot over 34 matches over 8 days.”

“My day would start at around 9.30am to head to the stadium to arrive at 10am to set up ready for the first match at 11am.”

“I would then shoot the first half of the match, file some images, then shoot the final quarter and then file more of my images until the next match starts and do the same routine for each match until the last match of the day.”

“I would leave the stadium on the last bus at 10pm back to the hotel to finish editing by 11.30pm and then ready to do it again the next day.”

The bright side is the opportunity to meet players and watch the exciting matches court-side.

“A little bit of travel is always fun and of course the challenge of getting great pictures from every match I cover.”

“Watching at close range the rivalry between the Silver Ferns and the Diamonds is amazing and in the last few years the two teams are so close it makes for great pics especially the celebration at the end of a big match.”

Queensland Firebirds celebrate their 2011 premiership win.
Queensland Firebirds celebrate their 2011 premiership win. Image credit: Michael Bradley.

Photographing netball doesn’t come cheaply, with the best equipment needed to produce the best shots.

“I use the top of the line Canon camera’s and lenses exclusively, which are very expensive ranging from wide angle lens for team photos to a 300mm f2.8 lens to shoot the action at the other end of the court or to shoot from high up in the stands.”

And his advice for budding photographers?

“There is not really any secret to this – it takes practice, practice and more practice.”

Check out more of Michael Bradley’s photography on his website