Photographer Lailanie Semper Symonette is an avid photographer and a regular at swim meets for the Nations Capital Swim Club. We ALWAYS see her snapping amazing action shots of the swimmers and we love it when she shares her albums on Facebook and Flickr. We wanted to learn more about her technique (in case we ever decided to take photos with something other than our cell phones) and share it with our readers. Lailanie was nice enough to spend a few moments with Black Kids Swim.
BKS: How did you get into sports photography?
LS: I bought a camera! I just wanted to learn how to use it. But after I did it for a while I really grew to like it The action shots are exciting. It wasn’t really on purpose, I just kind of got into it. And then seeing how happy the kids and parents are with their photos it makes you want to do it more. Especially when families are appreciative.
BKS: What advice do you have for parents or supporters who want to photograph swim events?
LS: Get a good camera! I use a Cannon 6D. But whatever camera you get make sure it’s a DSLR, they are faster and can take action shots. My camera has a sports setting that allows you to take 6 photos per second. Also, make sure your lense can zoom in – you don’t want to have to be right on top of the swimmers to get a great photo.
In one swim meet I might take 3000 pictures and only 200 or 300 are really good ones. There’s going to be a lot of blurry shots. And that just happens. All photographers do it, I’m still learning. Especially with sports photography with the kids moving around. You kind of have to just keep taking photos. Just keep clicking. At some point you’ll get your shots.
BKS: How did you get into the sport of swimming?
LS: Four of my six children can swim. All of them swam for Theresa Banks Swim Club in the summer of 2008. And after that, two of my boys continued swimming through high school.
BKS: Why did you choose swimming as a sport for them?
LS: My boys are very busy and hyper. So, I thought that swimming would be a good sport to get their nervous energy out. One of my sons, Alexander, found it difficult to keep still. My sons were more relaxed when they got home from practice. They’re ready to go to sleep. And it keeps them strong.
BKS: How did they like being a part of a competitive swim team?
LS: When he first started he was always coming in last place and he’s competitive, so he didn’t like that. But I told him not to worry about everybody else, just focus on your time and work with your time. Within one season he moved from the beginner group up to the most competitive group. He progressed really well and to me that was unbelievable. He was happy about that.
BKS: Have you heard the statistic that 70% of African Americans don’t know how to swim?
LS: I’ve heard that. But when I came here, I couldn’t believe that it was a real statistic. Because this is an all black swim team. In the DC Metro area black kids swim during the summer with lots of teams like Theresa Banks and King Fish; and also year round with NCAP, DC Wave, Peake, Elite Rays and so many other teams. It’s hard to believe that statistic could be true.