For someone separate from the intensity of the battle on the field, void of a dog in the fight, sports take on a meaning significantly different. It is ONLY grace, it is only speed, action, form… it is ART.
I would imagine it is for this reason that I often go out of my way to stay uninformed of what teams are doing well and which players are the stars, or future stars of the game. Foregoing any added emotion from memories seen at a match or on TV, I approach every photoshoot with an athlete with one intention, to make ART.
With this philosophy in mind, I was commissioned to shoot a campaign recently for Arizona State University where only two requirements existed:
1: We use a football player from their team
2: We make ART
I wanted to show the contortion that the players go through, where life and limb exist only to do one thing, catch the ball. The idea came from a quote the late Capa used to say about the way to be successful in photography, you must first get close, and then get closer.
To do so I moved to my go-to setup for studio work, the Hasselblad H6D-100c. After all these images may need to wrap the better part of a stadium in the future, so we could not cheat on resolution. We would first photograph the player in the studio so that we could light with enough power to close down the lens for sharpness. From there we would create background plates that served only to do one thing, compliment the player’s form.
Where this photoshoot differs a little from others is that its sole intention on visuals driving the emotion and aesthetics came before the needed reality of the moment. Where it was once an image of athletes fighting for the ball and chaos down the field, the image found its way towards one serene moment of grace. Almost as if it were a solo performance at a dance, the only reason for any and every movement was ART.