Action photos have a lot going on, and therefore, a lot that could potentially make or break the image. Any great photo can be broken down into these key components assuming that the exposure is correct:
Composition – Important for any shot, composition should never be ignored. Frame the image in an exciting and appealing manner without centering the athlete. Use a good lens and depth-of-field and the image will be all the more incredible.
Location – Shoot action that’s truly exciting, in a cool location. Look through any action sports magazines and you’ll notice that the action takes place in exciting/visually appealing locations.
Athletic Ability – Shoot talented athletes. It’s great to practice on athlete’s that aren’t very good, but to create a great shot, you need great talent!
Athlete’s style – This embodies the athletes personal style (clothing), and their style during their maneuver (trick). Some athletes have great style, others don’t. Try to have the athletes where bright clothing that contrasts to the background. It will make them stand out much more.
Flash placement/usage – Flash placement will make the athlete look great in the air, and the correct flash settings are a necessity for any great image.
Keep all of these in mind as you’re shooting and you will see that the images you create are better then anything you’ve ever taken before!