Every 4 years , the summer Olympic games creep up on me. I pretend indifference but eventually it draws me in, to the point I find myself watching sports previously I had no interest in such as fencing and handball.
As a photographer I also can't help noticing that as well as the worlds greatest sportsman and athletes, there is probably the greatest gathering of sports photographers under one roof at any one time (and probably the greatest number of camera and lenses in terms of net worth also). It is therefore a great time to take learn from the professionals about the art of event and sport photography.
The ABC channel of America have kindly shared some of the best photos from the games on their website everyday(See below), and it has been fascinating going through them.
What has struck me most is that the photos that most stood out are not traditional action shots, but the more quirky ones; the blurred action images, ones with bits of athlete or just shadows. Some do not show any sportsmen at all.
This reminded me of one of the highlights of this years photographic show.
Among the stands and vendors there was a talk by Bob Martin on sport photography. Mr Martin is a very self-assuming man, who has taken many pictures of many sports including the a number of Olympics. One of his iconic images was from the Paralympics of a swimmer with no legs diving into the water while his artificial limbs are awaiting collection next to the pool.
During the talk he gave great details fascinated of how he visualized the image and got himself into position.
Of course few, if any of us, will ever be fortunate enough to go to an event like the Olympics as photographers. We will never be afforded the kind of access that professionals get. Even if we did, it is unlikely we would be able to afford the level of equipment required to take high speed photos at night at a distance.
However that does not mean sport photography is out of reach. There are almost certainly local sport events, that while not the Olympics offer great opportunities to take great images.
As an example, a couple of years ago the photographic society did an event at a track meet for cyclists, where they were more than pleased to allow photographers access and we were given almost free reign of the track. The lessons learned from such events can be applied to almost any event from sports day to weddings and graduation.
One of the important lesson for me was the importance of looking for the other angle. Its looking for that photo that tells the story without being to obvious about it. Bob Martins single image told that swimmers story far better than a ordinary action picture would.
The other lesson is that for me, a great image needs to be different and almost controversial. The images that stick in your head are not the pretty ones, but the ones that make you stop and pause. they are the ones that tell a story, but in a way you had not previously considered.
We may never be able to compete with the kind of access professionals get at sports events or be able to afford the type of equipment they have, but that does not mean we cannot take images that tell the story of an event in some way. By studying others though , we can discover new angles and ways of looking for images
Links to ABC photo website
Some other Mallory images
These are some of the images I took last year at Mallory park and why, to me, they are interesting
|I like the energy in this image. Would it work sharper? No ,it would be too static|
|Again the blur gives motion and energy to the image|
|More conventional, but in B&W the facila expressions work better|
|This is one of my favorites. The juxtaposition between the cyclist and the lad and his bike tells a story of ambition|
|I like the distance between the lone cyclist anfd the chasing pack. The fact you can only see the wheels of the othyer cyclist is not a problem and in fact emphasizes the lone cyclist|
|For this one I played around with flash to standout the cyclist|
|Again this was a deliberate attempt to concentrate on the bikes over the riders, which adds interest|
|Again used the flash to highlight the finish flag and the riders|