In shooting sporting events, there are so many compostions to consider. Deciding where and what to shoot is one of my greatest challenge as a photographer. It’s easy to take on a photo opportunity and approach it as I’ve done it in the past. But the more I shoot and the more I learn about what I’m doing, I trying harder to consider the stories I’m wishing to tell. Many stories and better yet, many different chapters. As told through my lens from some recent events, here’s a mix of chapters to sports stories.
Isolated and simple. Shooting single subject with a simple background is a wonderful way to present an athlete. An image that isolates the individual and includes the pure image of the athletic performance tells a story that often suggests precision, striving for perfection and focus that is all in the context of personal dedication and sacrifice.
Pairings. Sometimes photos show great pairings; one-on-one, mano-mano, or girlo-girlo! As self composed the athletes may be, these shots often represent two forces coming together. One’s going to get and one’s going to give. Best shots are not when one athlete is dominating another, but when there’s that ultimate back and forth struggle, when one wins one battle and the other the next.
Opposing forces. While it’s often preferable to capture the faces of the clashing titans, that’s not necessarily required. The sheer physicality of athletes forcing their wills upon one another can just as effectively tell a compelling story of struggle and striving for dominance in a pairing.
Instants. There are times when a sporting event has a single instant that without a photograph passes as a flashing moment in time. The start of a race, the pivot of balance in a wrestling match, the tip of a ball, the stretching reach of a first baseman. These instants are can be game changers, but may just be routine plays. It’s hard to always tell the difference until what elapses just following that instant.
Boosters. It’s wonderful to help include the story about the place and context and what got us all here. Regardless of what level of sport, most athletes could not be where they are without the support of families, teachers and friends. Interestingly, last year while at a dinner for some US Ski Team atletes, one of the Olympians said just this when she and thanked all those who supported her for allowing her to be so selfish, for without them letting her be so self absorbed she would not be there. Fans, organizers and volunteers often make it possible for these contests between athletes take place. They are definitely an important chapter in the story of sports.
There are so many more chapters and stories. But I find it helpful to think about these different angles to storytelling with photography.