What do you think are the most important elements of the pairing between sport and photography?
When people think of sports photography, they think of that climactic action picture, which is a dominant moment in how we think about sports. And it is a very important part of sports photography, but it’s not the only part. There’s the quiet moments of the sport: there’s the reflection, the victory, and there’s the defeat.
Sport can be like a dance movement with its purposeful action. The key is capturing a moment of that action. One thing I find interesting, especially as I’m primarily a still photographer, is looking at TV footage of events I’ve covered and comparing it to my photos. It still amazes me how you perceive things differently when looking at a single moment. That’s what photography does. It captures a moment, locks something in. It allows you to linger.
You’ve been photographing sporting events since 1974 including 22 Olympic Summer and Winter Games. How have things changed over the years for sports photography?
The Olympics are a great example of how dramatically things have changed across the entire industry. My first Olympics was in 1976 in Montreal. Back then, the Olympics were niche events, only hardcore fans of the sports attended the games. The relationship between the media and the athletes was much more personal. They didn’t have the kind of money, sponsorship, and scale they do now.
As things grew, they began to have these huge press centers, full of people in the media. This was during the film days, before the internet, so these rooms would be full of writers, photographers, and editors from all around the world.
But then, things went to digital. Now you still have these press centers, but there’s very few people there. Everything is done remotely. Everything is done digitally and sent over the web. Only a few photographers and writers attend these days. You don’t have that human interaction on the business side during the events themselves.