The culture of sports is a powerful and passionate one, and a particular win or loss can produce an emotional ripple effect around the world. In order to illustrate both the logistics and the emotion of a game, the sports photographer must, like in any niche of photography, know their subject inside and out. Walter Iooss, Jr., another patron of sports photography with various exhibitions and the 2004 winner of theLUCIE Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports Photography, has carved out an illustrious career with the knack for photographing his players both on and off the field.
“When you spend that much time with a team, it’s like they don’t see you anymore… I need to be their friend… I said, ‘Lance [Armstrong], it’s not my job to get into this [controversy about Armstrong’s doping scandal]. I’m just here to take a picture of you.'”
Iooss is a prime example of how a virtuous sports photographer captures any and every salient moment of sports history, whether it’s following the catch of the century or the politics of the people. Agility and attention to detail of your surroundings is key in photographing everything from the players to the fans to the coaches to the venue, and everything in between. Some of the most poignant images in sports photography may not have a single athlete, ball or jersey in them. The ever-increasing number of photographers out there only emphasizes the need to think outside the box (and outside the boxing ring) and to experiment with how the story of the game is told with the most accurate portrayal of perseverance, team spirit, and emotion. You can read more about Iooss and his insights here.
So this Sunday, whether you’re stretched along the sidelines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, or admiring from afar at home, take notice of the sports photographers and the techniques they employ, the gear they’re using, and their interactions with the team. And ask yourself: how would you handle capturing the action around you to tell the truest story?