So by now you’ve gathered that I shoot athletes. But what is it that drives me in photographing them? In this post I’ll attempt to get to my fundamental motivation in photography.
Recently, I had lunch with a videographer friend of mine who worked with me on two shoots for Klean Kanteen. We ended up talking about what drives us when we’re creating images, whether they be stills or moving. This got me thinking thoroughly about what it actually is that drives me in my photography. Sure, I photograph people, passionate people, athletes. I shoot their lifestyles, capture their portraits and the action. But there must be a deeper motivation here, and this post will be my attempt at finding it.
From inanimate objects to living beings
When I first started out in photography, I’d walk the streets and shoot inanimate objects and landscapes. Fairly quickly though, I found out that having a person in my photos made them that much more captivating for me personally. At first these were random passers by on the street, captured either candidly or downright asking them if I could shoot a quick portrait. Later on, through my local climbing gym, I started shooting sports and specifically became interested in the people in sports.
The attraction of athletes
So what is it about athletes that I like so much I dedicate the majority of my time as a photographer to them? I’ve had to really think about this to come up with a satisfying answer.
Sports are an insanely multi dimensional activity. Every single sport represents a world of its own, with unique movements, tactics and rules. Sports are both a mental and physical game. How athletes have to master all these different aspects is what makes competing at a high level so hard. These athletes’ quest to improve is what fascinates me about sports. Really, when I think about it, I’m in it for the people, not the game itself. This is why even though I like shooting the action, I’m not a typical sports photographer. Yes, I’ve sat at the side of a football pitch a few times. However, I would always be more interested in focusing on a single player than giving an accurate representation of the flow of the game itself.
This is why I can’t quite make up my mind on whether I’m a portrait photographer, a lifestyle photographer or a sports photographer. These different disciplines of photography all show different aspects of the athlete. I love mixing them to paint a more complete picture of the athlete.
Capturing the athletes’ drive is what drives me
Yes, I just dropped that slightly cliche line there. The thing I love about working with athletes, is that they know what they want and are working their asses off to get it. While any athlete can go through periods of lower motivation, I feel that they generally have a very strong vision on life and are working towards very concrete goals. They have a mission, and this shows, making them very interesting subjects for photography and on a more general level interesting people to get to know.
What’s more, athletes suffer. They work hard and sweat. They’ll give it their all and then some. They refrain from doing the things their peers of the same age spend every weekend on, and instead put in some extra hours in the gym.
Ultimately, my goal in photography is to capture the personalities and hard work of these athletes. I would like for my work to help both the athletes and their sponsors to show the outside world the work they put in, and to put them on a pedestal.