Most photographs of athletes in action are taken with long lenses, from a significant distance (depending on the sport). A non-participant with a camera can’t step onto a football field or a basketball court or onto a hockey rink, after all; so, in many cases the distance between player and photographer is great, and this is a compensated for by the use of telephoto lenses. Many terrific pictures, even classics, have been made this way. But the telephoto effect is to produce a specific “look” to such photo journalistic sports images.
I wanted to look at athletes and make photographs of action in a different manner.
For my book “Athlete,” I had that special opportunity with Allen Houston, the star shooting guard of the New York Knicks from ten years ago. I decided that to make an action basketball image not previously seen, I’d use a very wide angle lens and place myself, and camera, just two feet away from him —- as close as a defender might position himself —- while he made his distinct and remarkable jump shot.
I wanted a sense of the force of his movement, as if the camera were an “in-your-face” defenseman. When I look at this image, I can still remember feeling his power from the proximity.
These are a few of the other images created in that manner.
I made each image standing very closely with a wide-angle lens.
Tyree Washington, Sprinter
Rulan Gardner, Wrestler
Alonzo Mourning, Basketball
Adam Setliff, Discus
And finally, from right under the basket.